How to Start a Coaching Business: 11 Steps to Success

Coaching is a rapidly growing field worth $2.85 billion worldwide, and is continuing to scale.

Starting your own coaching business can be a great experience.

However, 82% of coaches fail within the first two years – yikes. 😱

That means there’s only an 18% chance your business will be successful.

To defy those odds, you need to know precisely what you’re up against and how to climb the ladder to success.

I spent the last decade polishing my craft before jumping into the realm of coaching.

I hired, crafted training for, and led entire teams of writers, and served over 5,000 clients in those ten years.

Sure enough, my clients noticed my expertise and success and started to request personal consulting.

After earning $400,000 on the side from coaching and teaching, I decided to sell my successful seven-figure agency to lead Content Hacker.

Today, I help creative entrepreneurs get their online content strategy, skills, and systems down for massive revenue.

In this guide, I will walk you through exactly how to start a coaching business that will lead to a long and prosperous career.

Ready? Let’s jump in!

how to start a coaching business

How to Start a Coaching Business: What’s Inside

Benefits of Starting an Online Coaching Business

Are You Ready to Start a Coaching Business?

How to Start Your Coaching Business

  1. Cultivate an Attitude That Creates Success
  2. Establish Your Niche and Audience
  3. Find Your Product-Market Fit
  4. Define Your ICA (Ideal Client Avatar)
  5. Build Your Core Business Drivers
  6. Get Clear on Branding
  7. Build a Brand Book
  8. Launch Your Website
  9. Create a Content Strategy
  10. Price Your Services
  11. Find and Pitch Clients

You Don’t Have to Start a Coaching Business on Your Own

Benefits of Starting an Online Coaching Business

Well, you wouldn’t be here if it wasn’t beneficial. As we continue to step into the age of technology, digital businesses have continued to grow — and coaching is one of them.

From fitness to life coaching, you can conduct hands-on education without leaving the comfort of your home. In fact, all my coaching is 100% online.

The advantages of working in an online industry don’t end with an at-home office. You can now reach a global audience with your message. When serving a client and marketing your business, you’re no longer limited by geographical boundaries. The sky is the limit!

It gets better. An online coaching business is often more affordable to start and maintain than a traditional brick-and-mortar. In fact, 68% of professionals say online businesses are less likely to fail.

online vs bricks and mortar profit margin

Are You Ready to Start a Coaching Business?

There’s no doubt about the growing opportunity within the coaching industry, but are you ready to commit to the challenge?

While coaching is appealing, you’ll have big shoes to fill. Your clients will rely on you to be a thought leader in the industry and have expertise in your field. Do you have what it takes? Do you have the expertise?

Maybe you just need a self-confidence boost, but if you answered no to the last question, chances are coaching is not the next career move for you.

To be successful, you need to be a practitioner first. You need proof that backs up what you say and gives your clients a reason to trust and believe in your processes.

If your experience is lacking, don’t get discouraged! Just because you’re not currently ready doesn’t mean you won’t be in the future. This is a great career to work towards.

In the meantime, just focus on creating a successful business and leave the coaching for when you’ve truly developed your expertise.

If you have the experience, however, coaching is the perfect next step. Read on for a complete guide on how to make this dream a reality.

free content hacker class

How to Start Your Coaching Business

This is not a get-rich-quick scheme — it takes time, dedication, and a lot of hard work to build a thriving coaching practice. You need extensive knowledge in your field and the ability to provide your clients with actionable steps to follow.

Are you ready to share your expertise with the world? Follow my 11 steps below, and you will surely climb the ladder.

1. Cultivate an Attitude That Creates Success

If you want to become an entrepreneur (if you’re not already), you need to cultivate an attitude that will lead you to victory. Jumping from following orders to giving them isn’t going to cut it.

You need to rewire your brain at the thought level.

How you think will transform the opportunities ahead of you, and how you approach them.

Mindset is everything for starting a coaching business. If you want to be part of the 18% that have succeeded in the coaching field, you need to be prepared for any obstacles along the way and have the mindset to face them.

I am a huge believer in playing offense in your business. I live by this rule and preach this in my Content Transformation System program.

So, what do I mean by this? Playing offense means you’re out there making things happen. You have control of the game, and you’re doing your best to hurdle obstacles before they become an issue.

When you’re on the defense, you’re waiting for the problem to come your way, then stop it. You’re constantly in fix-it mode and can’t take a step back and prepare for the issues ahead.

Life will pass you by if you’re sitting around waiting for things to happen. You want to be always two to three steps ahead of the game. You want a clear view of all the obstacles ahead and a plan of how to solve them.

In fact, we want to take the word “problem” out of our vocabulary. You aren’t solving problems. You’re simply overcoming obstacles that come your way.

take control at the thought level

2. Establish Your Niche and Audience

We’ve come to one of the fun and exciting parts — picking what your (hopefully long) career in coaching will be based on.

First and foremost, you must make sure that you have the proper skill set within this niche. We are not fans of becoming a coach first and building skills later. Your clients rely on you to be an educator in your industry, so you must know what you’re talking about.

You should take your years, if not decades, of experience and create a coaching service that ignites your passion while serving a large group of people.

What I Did to Grow Several Six and Seven-figure Businesses

I’m not new to the game. I’ve been in the content marketing industry for over ten years.

Now I’m taking my decade’s worth of knowledge on running a successful online business and teaching it to the world. But I didn’t become a coach overnight.

I started at 19 with nothing but $75 and a dream. I invested the last of my money into an online website.

I wanted to build a passionate team that created and wrote excellent content for our clients, so I did that. It wasn’t a quick process. It was a game of trial and error. We stuck to what worked and let go of things holding us back as a company.

But, once we had the skills, process, and strategies down, the sky was the limit. In 2021 I sold this business for over $1 million in profit. While this writing agency was my baby, I was ready for the next step in my career.

Before my exit, I made $400,000 on the side from coaching and teaching, and I loved it!

Coaching was something I stumbled upon unintentionally. While owning my agency, multiple people asked me to consult them on my expertise. Content marketing is a beast of its own, and many individuals in the marketing industry are unable to navigate it.

My methods were proven successful, and my clients saw that. I didn’t have to push my offer because my skills spoke (and speak!) for themselves.

Today I’ve sold over $400,000 worth of courses and private consulting, started multiple digital businesses of my own, written five books and have served over 5,000 clients.

I saw an unmet need in the industry, so I created a service that solved that. My side hustle turned into a passion, and that’s when the Content Hacker was born.

I have the experience to back up what I’m saying. I am living proof that what I teach and coach my clients works.

Pick Your Passion

I grew this far because I’m passionate about what I do. I have always loved to write, which is at my career’s core. However, I took this passion and tapped into a market lacking what I provide.

I found a large industry that could significantly benefit from my skills. This is the route to growth.

Today my coaching and consulting business averages $18-20k months at 75-80% profit margins. But wait, it gets better: My workdays are no more than two-three hours unless I want to work more.

I have created sustainability in my business, where I can now take a step back when needed. This is precisely how I was able to juggle life with a newborn baby.

While you are 100% capable of achieving this, it comes from having the proper skills, strategies, and systems in place. While it is a lucrative and enjoyable career, starting a coaching business is not easy, hence the 18% success rate.

It can be confusing, especially if you have never started a business.

That’s why I decided it was time to flip the script. I developed a hybrid coaching and course model with a proven framework to build a successful digital business.

From picking the perfect niche to landing clients, the Content Transformation System walks you through how to build a digital business from your passion that will last for years to come.

Want to get the lowdown on that framework I just mentioned? Get in my free class, which shows you the exact path I use and teach to my students.

free webinar

3. Find Your Product-Market Fit

Once you have decided what your coaching service will be and who your audience is, it’s time to find your product-market fit. This is how your product or service satisfies a strong market demand.

First, you need to discover what that demand is. While diving into the available data and scoping out your competition is helpful, it is not enough. You need to go out and conduct live market research.

How, might you ask? Through surveying your audience. No, I don’t mean a measly five-question survey you post online for people to complete. You need to get your potential clients on the phone. 📞

The idea is to pick their brains and find their pain points so you can provide a service/product that gives a solution to their problem — a problem your competitors may not even be aware of.

How to Survey Your Market

I’ve been in the industry for over ten years and still conduct annual surveys. This is a crucial part of owning a coaching business as it truly opens your eyes to your clients’ needs.

Pro tip: Do not outsource this! This information is critical to your business, so it’s essential that YOU, the leader, are involved in the process.

The first step is framing a simple market research message for your potential client.

You’ll want to describe what type of person you’re looking for, the service you offer, and what you need from them.

This message should be simple. Here’s exactly what you should do:

  • Name your audience, then tell them what you’re doing and what you’re looking for
  • Describe their current frustrations
  • Tell them what their following action should be if they want to be a part of the process

Example: “I’m looking for FIVE creative entrepreneurs who want the framework to create a self-sustaining business they love so they can finally live free and build personal success. Get a free 30-minute session with me (absolutely ZERO pressure to buy anything). Drop a 🙌 if that’s YOU!”

survey the market

 

Offering a free service such as a 30-minute consultation or giving away a small product you have already created in exchange for their time is a great way to gain their attention and express gratitude.

After you have this beautifully crafted message, you want to post this on several social media platforms such as:

  • LinkedIn
  • Facebook
  • Instagram
  • Twitter

Once your post is live, make sure you monitor your social platforms closely for the next 24 hours.

You don’t want to miss an opportunity due to a delayed response.

Your aim is to get the attention of at least three to four people in your target audience. If you’re already established, you may receive a decent response. If you’re feeling ambitious, I encourage you to talk to as many people as possible.

When I went through this process while creating Content Hacker, I interviewed 30 people. Yes, 30; while it was intense, I received invaluable information I wouldn’t have found anywhere else.

Once you have found three to four respondents, it’s time to arrange a phone call. I highly recommend video chat, such as a Zoom call, if possible.

This gives that extra bit of insight as you can get a clear vision of what your potential clients look like and how they react to their issues.

Remember, you are here to listen. This is not a back-and-forth conversation. You are there to guide the discussion and pull the information out of them, nothing else.

Don’t be discouraged if you get to this part and feel stuck. I find many people struggle with conducting this survey.

That’s why I put together a step by a script that walks you through the entire process. This can only be found in my Content Transformation System program.

Need help developing a proven business offer that doesn’t flop? You can access everything I’ve learned in launching seven brands that have generated millions, along with live coaching feedback, 30+ plug-n-play business templates, and more. Apply for your spot in the Content Transformation System Today.

4. Define Your ICA (Ideal Client Avatar)

Simply put, your ICA is the person who needs the transformation you are selling to relieve their current issues.

Once you have conducted your market research, you should clearly understand who your ideal client will be. After all, you’ll have a first-hand look at your ICA in your calls. This should make describing/defining them simple.

When writing this description, it is essential to be as clear and detailed as possible.

Here are some great questions to ask yourself when defining your ICA:

  • What is their age?
  • What is their gender?
  • What do they do for a living?
  • What is their annual income?
  • What is the marital status?
  • What are their interests?

According to ICF, the typical coaching client is between 35 and 44 years old (37%). Less than one in three clients (30%) are in the 45–54 age range, and around one in four (24%) are under 35 years old.

5. Build Your Core Business Drivers

This is where the magic starts to happen. 💫

Your core business drivers are monumental to your success and the bells and whistles of your business. You must follow a few essential steps to build your core business drivers correctly.

5.1. Develop Your One-Sentence ICA Magnet

This will be one of the most considerable revenue-driving sentences you probably will ever write, so don’t rush this process. Spend some time perfecting it, and don’t be afraid to come back and improve upon the sentence as time passes.

Remember, you speak directly to your ICA in everything you post online. So have your market research handy here because it will help immensely in framing this sentence.

When developing your ICA magnet, you want to be clear and direct. Make sure to include the following:

  • Who you help (ICA)
  • What you coach them on
  • The transformation they will receive

Example: “We help creative entrepreneurs get their strategy, skills & systems down for massive revenue.”

5.2. Develop Your Content Differentiation Factor

This is your time to shine. What sets you apart from your competition? What quality do you bring to the table that you feel your competitors lack?

While you shouldn’t be afraid to dig deep here, your best qualities are usually right in front of your face; you just may be a little blind to them.

Have you been in the field for decades? Well, that gives you a leg up.

Are you an expert in more than one field? This will most certainly set you apart from the competition.

Do you have an out-of-the-box approach when it comes to your process? Yup, another content differentiation factor.

Once you decide what makes your business special, you’ll want to craft this into a detailed paragraph.

Example: “We stop at nothing to empower and enable our marketers and entrepreneurs to create amazing content without the burnout. Our secret factor is TEN years, a full decade, of working in the content field with over 40,000 projects and 5,000 clients; our passion is in what we do. We believe and practice in constant growth and adapting to trends and best practices in our industry (content marketing) and teaching these practices and trends to each creator in our team. Not only are we amazing at our ‘day job’ – content – but we also care about the mental health and greater purpose of those we serve, enabling them to get out of the burnout with smarter content creation practices.”

Don’t be afraid to think deeply and profoundly here.

5.3. Develop Your Brand BHAG (Big Hairy Audacious Goal)

You want to aim for the moon here. Be ambitious. If your company could reach any goal, what would it be?

Once you have that defined, that is what you will work towards every day.

During my time owning a writing agency, our BHAG was to be the BEST writing service marketplace in existence.

That’s right — the best writing service marketplace in existence. When creating something for our clients, we did whatever it took to give them the absolute best content out there. Not the best in the state. Not the best in the country. The best in existence.

It took us ten years, and our business income graph looked like this…

how to start a coaching business - revenue growth

…But we did it. Our BHAG maintained our momentum.

If you want to truly succeed, don’t play small. Push yourself to be the best of the best.

5.4. Develop Your Brand Mission

Your brand’s mission statement is its reason for existence. It’s not about what you do or how you do it, but why. Your business will likely suffer if you don’t have a clear sense of purpose.

So how do you develop a brand mission statement that will guide your business and ensure its long-term success?

The best mission statements are clear, concise, and inspiring. They should be easy to understand and remember. And they should be based on a deep understanding of your customers and your competitive landscape.

A great mission statement can be a powerful tool for aligning your team, focusing your efforts, and inspiring your customers. So, if you’re serious about building a solid and successful brand, take the time to craft a great mission statement.

Example: “We help heart-led, authentic online experts and founders get the content marketing skills and strategy and presence they need to exponentially grow online.”

For even more inspiration, check out our brand motto here.

6. Get Clear on Branding

Your branding sets you apart from your competitors and gives your customers a sense of what you’re all about. Therefore, it’s essential that your brand name reflects your values and speaks to your target market.

If you have already developed a brand name, it’s time to do a gut check with two key questions:

  1. Is there instant clarity on the market you serve?
  2. Is there instant clarity on the value you provide?

Don’t spend too much time thinking about it. Give yourself five seconds and go with the initial response. If you answered “no” to either of these questions, then it’s time to do some tweaking.

An excellent tool for inspiration is to check out your established competitors. Don’t be afraid to aim high – if your market is in a specific city, try looking at established companies in your niche throughout the state or even the industry leader in the country.

Examine their brand. What type of words and terms are they using? Write down your favorites, and don’t be afraid to put them to use. But remember, you are not copying their content, only taking inspiration.

Check out my landing page here for inspiration. You can also find a sneak peek below.

branding example

7. Build a Brand Book

Are you clear on your brand? Great!

Now it’s time to make a clean and beautiful document to limit any confusion.

Remember, you’re not just building any coaching business here. You’re building a business that will scale to six and seven figures.

This means you will be hiring contractors and growing a team along the way.

Therefore, you want clear and concise guidelines to ensure everyone you’re working with is on the same page — literally and figuratively.

The best way to do this is through either a brand book or a brand style guideline.

What Is a Brand Book?

A brand book is a document with all your branding neatly organized in one place so designers have a clear idea of what visual aspects should be included in future creations.

Simply put, it’s a guiding document to get designers on the same page.

This includes things such as your color palette, logo, and typography.

What Is a Brand Style Guide?

Brand style guidelines are a bit more detailed. Unlike the brand book, these are created to guide an entire content team.

From designers to writers to social media managers, this document will be a clear and concise guide that allows your content to remain consistent no matter who creates it.

This is going to be an extremely detailed document that will include things such as:

  • Your mission statement
  • Your target audience (ICA)
  • Description of your visual identity
  • Editorial guidelines

You’ll want to elaborate further within each section. For example, we developed an entire movie character description for ourselves in the description of our identity.

Don’t be afraid to get down to the nitty-gritty here. If you think it’s going to make a difference to your brand, include it!

Use of brand name example: “Our brand name is Content Hacker. Do not lowercase our brand name when typing it out. Do not remove the space between the two words. Shortening the brand name: ‘CH’ is fine when mentioning the company
internally to other staff or talking to seasoned, old clients (1+ year of history
with us). Do not use ‘CH’ when talking to new clients, and refrain from ever
using it in written content for branded blog and site content.”

If you will be producing digital content (which you should be if you are going to be a coach), it’s essential that you don’t miss this step.

Companies with consistent brand activities experience a 33% increase in revenue and a 20% increase in the value of content produced. That means not having a brand style guide could be costing you revenue.

Get your hands on a real-life example by downloading our very own brand style guide here.

brand style guidelines

8. Launch Your Website

Now it’s time to put your brand style guidelines into action. Hand this over to a web designer and begin crafting the storefront of your business.

Your website is the central hub for all your marketing efforts, so it needs to be well-designed and easy to navigate. Once your target audience is here, you want to keep them coming back.

A poorly functioning website will reflect badly on your business and may drive potential customers away. In contrast, a well-functioning website can help to build trust and confidence.

I highly recommend skipping free website platforms like Wix, Weebly, or a Facebook business page. While the promises they offer may seem intriguing, this is not the path to success.

If you’re serious about your content strategy and business growth, you must build your website through WordPress. Here are a few great reasons why:

  1. WordPress is an open software meaning anyone can build on this platform
  2. WordPress is the industry standard
  3. You own your data

Many people don’t realize most website platforms collect and own your data, but not WordPress. When you create a WordPress website, you are the content owner and can move or sell this at a later time.

Think of this as real estate. Would you remodel an entire house if you’re only renting? Of course not. So, if you’re going to put your time and effort into scaling your business, you need a website that’s actually yours.

This is YOUR business we are talking about, after all. You don’t want to give visitors away – you want to send that hard-earned traffic to something that’s truly yours forever

content house

Are you ready to create a one-of-a-kind website that will be your digital base for years to come? Then you need a team of developers that understand this importance.

At Content Hacker, we bring you next-level CUSTOM websites made from scratch.

Don’t just settle for any website. Get a user-focused, brand-first website built for speed, rankings and beauty that will take your coaching business to the next level.

custom built wordpress websites cta

9. Create a Content Strategy

Content will be critical in your digital coaching business. If you haven’t already decided what kind of content you will be producing to market your business and services, now is the time.

However, even the greatest content can fall flat without a strategy.

A content marketing strategy is more than creating blog posts, website landing pages, and email newsletters. A strong content strategy encompasses an entire plan and is rooted in the why behind the content being created.

Once again, your market research will have a significant impact here. You’ll want to look at your audience’s pain points and link them to terms and topics you can write about that will solve their issues.

You’ll also want to go the extra step and conduct SEO (search engine optimization) research.

If you’re unfamiliar with SEO, I strongly urge you to learn about it.

Why use SEO? Because 70% of online experiences now start with a search. Not taking advantage of this is like throwing money down the drain.

I have made over $5 million in the last ten years through my WordPress website, entirely without ads, and SEO significantly influenced this.

While discovering what you’ll write about is critical, it’s only a small step in the content strategy process.

The following steps will pave the way to developing an effective content strategy. These include:

  • Setting up content workflows: Creating a HEALTHY content strategy involves finding and sticking to proven and replicable processes.
  • Identifying your audience and goals: A content marketing strategy will involve learning about whom your content should be written for, as well as setting trackable goals and KPIs.
  • Attract, engage, delight: The core of any content marketing strategy should include the goals of bringing in leads from search results, engaging people to become customers, and then turning them into your brand’s BIGGEST fans.
  • Creating content: As you might have guessed, a significant piece of any content strategy is researching, outlining, writing, publishing, and promoting your content.

how to start a coaching business

10. Price Your Services

An essential yet tricky step. While watching your client’s transformation and developing your passion is rewarding, we all have bills to pay.

It’s crucial to develop a price that serves you and your customers. So how do you do this?

If you don’t know where to start, Google will be your best friend. Type your keyword into Google and study the prices of freelancers or coaching agencies in your market on the first page of the results.

Remember to avoid ads and stick to organic search results.

Once you know what your competition is charging, it’s time to set a minimum rate. This is the lowest you’re willing to go for your services.

Try to set a price in the same ballpark as your competition unless you have a good reason not to. Your experience and knowledge level should be the guiding factor to what this is. Once this rate is developed, stay firm to this price.

If your expertise goes beyond one industry, creating a package that offers your different levels of experience is an excellent way to diversify your service and receive the proper payment for your knowledge. Almost all coach practitioners (94%) offer services in addition to coaching.

If you are still testing the waters, it’s okay to start with lower prices in exchange for client feedback. Just don’t stay there. As your knowledge increases, so should your prices.

This no longer means staying in the industry for years and slowly climbing the ladder.

Go out and seek education to develop your skills.

The world is truly your oyster. Thousands of online resources can help you scale your expertise in a matter of months. Once these skills are obtained, increase your prices.

I suggest evaluating and raising prices twice a year. Typically, in the fall and spring.

11. Find and Pitch Clients

After all, there’s no coaching business without clients. So, how do you find your ideal clients?

As a coach, your ultimate goal is to help your clients reach their full potential. To do this, you need to be able to connect with them on a personal level and understand their specific needs.

Fortunately, you can take a few simple steps to attract the right clients and build a strong coaching business.

One of your main goals should be to achieve clients through great content. You want to build a foundation as a thought leader so clients come to you.

Social media platforms are a great way to get your services in front of your ICA and lead them to your website.

However, you don’t want to oversell here. You want to give insight into your business and the value you provide as a coach. Writing clear stories around your expertise can absolutely net you clients.

You should form these stories from lessons you’ve learned that directly relate to the transformation you offer. Don’t be afraid to get personal — be willing to give insight into your life so your ICA can get to know you and learn to value and trust what you say.

Clear communication with your audience will pave the road to success. 54% of entrepreneurs cite communication as the most important skill to have.

While we want our clients to gravitate toward us in the long run, this might not be an option initially. You may have to hustle a bit to get your business off the ground, and that’s okay.

Don’t be afraid to get out there and pitch your services. A great way to do this is to scan Craigslist and Google Jobs. Look for companies that are currently in need of your services and pitch your offer. How will your coaching transform their company? What can you do for them that others can’t?

While you want to be specific here, you need to be careful not to oversell.

Helpfulness beats sales every time.

Still a bit lost? No need to worry

Follow my four ways to get ideal clients. With this proven methodology, you have the ability to go from nothing to $1k in sales!

Once you land your first client, it’s official. You are now a coach — pat yourself on the back!

You Don’t Have to Start a Coaching Business on Your Own

Starting a coaching business is no walk in the park. You must put in the time and dedication to set yourself up for success.

While I’m confident that after reading this article, you will have the tools to launch your digital empire, putting them into action successfully is another story.

You, more than anyone, know how helpful it can be to have an expert coach you along the way.

My Content Transformation System is designed with LIVE coaching, so you never get stuck in the process of building your business.

What’s better? You’ll get a first-hand, behind-the-scenes look at a successful coaching business.

Surpass the 82% of coaches that fail by year two.

Get a supportive team, tools, and systems you need to get off the ground running with my Content Transformation System.

However, not just anyone can join. We want to ensure you’re serious about success and willing to invest time and effort to scale your business.

Does this sound like you? Apply now!

content transformation

About Julia McCoy

Julia McCoy is an entrepreneur, 6x author, and a leading strategist around creating exceptional content and brand presence that lasts online. At 19 years old, in 2011, she used her last $75 to build a 7-figure agency, Express Writers, which she grew to $5M and sold ten years later. In the 2020s, she's devoted to running The Content Hacker, where she teaches creative entrepreneurs the strategy, skills, and systems they need to build a self-sustaining business, so they are finally freed up to create lasting legacy and generational impact.