Most coaches would prefer to be slathered in salmon innards and have to run naked through a forest populated by starving bears than commit to a niche.
But, hungry bears notwithstanding, it’s hardly surprising that it stresses coaches out.
Most smart coaches know that a strong niche is the foundation for building a thriving coaching practice, so they don’t want to get it wrong.
Whereas, it’s not impossible to become a fully booked coach without a solid niche, but it makes a hard job exponentially harder.
In this post, I will explain why you need a coaching niche.
I will also explain what a coaching niche is.
And probably most importantly, how you figure out your own coaching niche (or refine/test it if you already have one).
Plus, a lot more nichey-goodness will be thrown in for good measure.
Note: This post is best read in conjunction with The Importance of Branding for Coaches (a Guide for 2024)
Why you need a life coaching niche
I understand you may be perfectly equipped to help many different people with many different problems.
But, and this is incredibly important:
You cannot market your services effectively to many different people with many different problems.
For the purposes of this post, finding your coaching niche is only about your ability to market yourself and get fully booked.
It does not dictate how you coach – unless you want it to.
Your niche allows you to position yourself within the highly competitive coaching industry and refine your messaging to speak directly to one group of people.
If you start from a position of trying to appeal to everybody, you will end up in a position of talking to nobody, except maybe your bank manager when you need to borrow more cash.
1. You can charge more
I know, I know, you’re a coach because you want to help people, and money is just so vulgar.
But you have bills to pay.
Most doctors, accountants, and lawyers want to help people, but that doesn’t stop them from being paid well too.
And so can you.
In fact, doctors, accountants and lawyers with a tight niche get paid even more than the ones who don’t specialise.
A cardiologist will charge more than a GP.
A corporate tax specialist will cost you more than a general accountant.
And a criminal defence lawyer will bill you more than the local lawyer you hired to draw up your will.
And they do so because they are seen as specialists and experts.
People will happily pay more to work with a specialist and expert.
2. You can build authority and trust
As I just mentioned, a niche makes you look like an expert/authority.
And people have a tendency to trust experts.
This is important because nobody hires a coach they don’t trust.
3. Content creation is a snap
Creating content is simpler when you know exactly who you’re talking to and their pain points.
As a coach who works with coaches needing more clients, it’s not difficult for me to think of topics to write newsletters and blog posts about.
Similarly, any of those topics (or the ones you choose) can be turned into books, lead magnets, courses or group coaching.
Note: Knowing your client journey is also a must if you want to be able to quickly and easily create content.
4. Targetting clients is more straightforward
Having a coaching niche gives you a clearer idea of where your ideal client hangs out.
If you’re a career coach, it’s a safe bet that LinkedIn will be a good use of your time.
Ignoring short-form videos is probably a mistake if people under 30 populate your niche.
And if retirees (pensioners to us Brits) are your niche, then written content may be better than video.
If you want more help with this, sign up for my Pro List newsletter, and you will get access to my Client Avatar Workbook. It details the exact process I use with clients who hire me.
5. You can quickly build rapport (and trust)
How easy do you think it is for me to talk to new coaches?
I’ve been a full-time coach since 2005 and know precisely what it’s like to be struggling as a coach.
So striking up a conversation either online or in person with anybody who works in coaching is a breeze.
And then demonstrating I know my shit is easy too.
What is a coaching niche?
This post has been lovingly crafted by hand without the help of ChatGPT, other than some minor editing.
Oh, and to answer the following question:
When referring to life coaches, how would you define the term Niche, ChatGPT?
Here is its response:
In the context of life coaching (and many other professions), the term “niche” refers to a specialized segment of the market for a particular kind of service or product. When a life coach identifies and focuses on a specific niche, they are choosing to target a particular group of people or area of expertise. This can make their services more tailored and relevant to that group, allowing the coach to more effectively meet their needs.
But we can simplify it….a lot.
By using this easy-to-remember framework.
I help this kind of person solve that kind of problem
That single sentence helps you know if you have a coaching niche because if you cannot say it, you almost certainly don’t have one.
Let’s look at some practical examples and how they can fit into the framework.
Could work with people looking to lose weight or get fit (this kind of person).
Who is confused by what keto really means/involves or doesn’t want to give up meat (that kind of problem).
May work with women who are involved in the divorce process (this kind of person).
Who has never been through a divorce and is scared and unsure what to do (that kind of problem).
Jami Gibson works with people who procrastinate (this kind of person).
Who wants to get to the root of their problem rather than just install time management tactics (that kind of problem).
Working with people struggling to deal with an ADHD diagnosis (this kind of problem).
Who is apprehensive, overwhelmed and has no clue how to manage (that kind of problem).
Could work with people from their home country looking to move overseas (this kind of person).
Who is unsure of the process, worried about fitting in, and unsure what to do first (that kind of problem).
Time Management Coach
Perhaps works with people who work a 9 to 5 and have a lot of pressure (This kind of person).
That is struggling badly to get their job done in the hours available because they are so poor at managing their time.
Marketing coach for coaches
I have no idea who that could be, but I could see me (or them) working with coaches (this kind of person).
Who want more paying clients (that kind of problem)
Not all niches are made equal.
While also narrowing the coaching niche to help make the marketing process more straightforward for some niches that may be a tad too broad.
So, as one of the main points of having a niche is to stand out, niching down even further is advisable to see any real benefit.
For example, being a relationship or career coach is technically a niche, but they are such huge fields that standing out is barely any easier than calling yourself a life coach. The same could be said for being a relationship coach.
Similarly, some coaching niches aren’t really niches.
Neither the mindset coaching niche nor the transformational coach niche are true life coaching niches. And certainly don’t fit into this kind of person with that kind of problem.
Could work with women who have had kids (this kind of person)
Who have gained weight and want to get back down to pre-pregnancy fitness levels (that kind of problem).
Could work with professional people working in the corporate sector (this kind of person).
Who want to move up into executive roles (that kind of problem).
Could work with divorced men who have kids (that kind of person)
Who wants to reestablish predivorce relationships with their kids (that kind of problem).
The 3-letter word killing your life coaching niche
One final thing.
The word and rarely has a right to be in what you do if you have a niche.
The moment you say I am a this and a that coach, it means you’re telling people you’re not a specialist in either.
Stick with one thing and make it highly specific.
How to find your coaching niche
If you have done more than a handful of consults, you will know that some have you pumping the air with delight, barely able to contain your excitement.
And I mean because you really want to work with that person, not just because you want to get paid.
Think of this question as your coaching niche finder, and let me ask you this…
If you haven’t done any consults yet, or maybe only a few, worry not because this applies to you, too. Just close your eyes and use your fucking imagination.
- What did they say?
- What type of language did they use?
- What problems are they encountering?
- What are they itching to achieve?
- What keeps them awake at night?
Is there a coaching niche lurking in there?
Could you be helping this kind of person solve that kind of problem?
If you’re brand new to coaching, you may not have much experience yet to draw from. That’s completely normal!, so let’s simplify things even more with this lovely Venn diagram because everybody loves a Venn diagram. .
The niche sweet spot
1. What will/can people pay for
It doesn’t matter what skills or knowledge you have if nobody wants to pay for it or cannot afford to hire you.
If you spent several years sleeping rough and want to coach people in a similar position because you know the ropes and want to give back – I applaud you.
But can homeless people afford to pay for your services?
I’m not saying you shouldn’t do it, but it needs careful consideration of how you can do it, presuming you don’t end up back on the streets yourself.
Similarly, you may have 20 years of experience keeping ferrets and want to coach people around looking after their very own Mustela furo.
But are there enough inexperienced ferret lovers who feel like they need coaching around their ferret tending activities?
Homeless people and ferret lovers are pretty obvious examples, but there are others that I have seen that are less obvious.
Artists, musicians, and craftspeople seldom sit around on piles of cash ready to give to a coach.
The same can be said for teachers, ex-military, disabled people, those going through medical issues (especially in the US when most of their money may well be going on medical bills), nurses, single moms etc.
Again, I must stress I’m not saying you shouldn’t target any of these groups, just that it could be tougher than it needs to be.
Another group is teenagers or young adults because they rarely have the disposable income necessary to hire a coach.
As such, you not only need to appeal to the person you will coach but the person paying the bill too. That is hard!
2. Things you are good at.
Consider your background before coaching.
Analyze previous jobs, education, hobbies, etc. where, when, how and with whom did you excel?
What have you done that you know others would like to do?
And, more importantly, would pay to do?
What transferable skills, expertise or knowledge could provide value to potential clients?
3. Things you love to do
What topics and activities naturally get you excited?
What do you love to do and talk about?
What energizes you?
Who are the people that you feel a certain sense of affinity towards even when you don’t know them
When you imagine helping specific groups of people, what feels most energizing?
4. Can you get in front of your niche
There are only three elements to my Venn diagram, but there could have been a fourth.
It’s useless being good at some things you love to do that people need, want and can afford if you cannot get to these people.
If you’re a brilliant coach and want to form a niche of world leaders with narcissistic characteristics, that could be a problem.
World leaders rarely scroll Facebook or search Google for a coach. At that level, everything is done by word-of-mouth.
The same goes for almost all super-wealthy people – they have gatekeepers for their gatekeepers, and you will have a real problem breaking through and building up a referral network.
I’m not suggesting that is a reason for you not to pursue your chosen niche, but you need to be aware and plan accordingly.
Other ways to help figure out your coaching niche
Here are some more tactics to help find your coaching niche when just starting out if you’re still struggling:
- Interview people in your existing network. Ask about their lives, struggles, and goals. See if any patterns emerge that reveal an audience to serve that gels with you.
- Look for new trends, but be careful that they are trends and not fads that may die out.
- Offer pro bono coaching to a few people in different target niches. This hands-on experience will quickly give you clarity. (You can look for practice clients in The Coaching Exchange
- Attend industry conferences or network in your community to directly interact with potential niche audiences.
- Search social media groups on sites like Facebook and Reddit for inspiration – look for recurring problems that people clearly want solutions to.
Conclusion – don’t sweat your coaching niche!
But whatever you do, don’t worry about getting it “right” immediately; some coaches take many months, even years, on occasions before crushing their coaching niche.
After reading this post, if you really still have no clue, give yourself permission to start broader and refine over time.
It’s okay to have a work-in-progress coaching niche.
As long as that is, you nail your branding. But that’s another post for another time.
You could always hire me if you’re ready to stop half-assing your coaching practice. I know a little bit about this client attraction malarkey.