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Being a good coach is a lot more than racking up certifications or having a fancy website. You need to know your strengths and find clients who align with them, guide these clients to the right answers, and accept failure as part of the process.

Using practical insights from top coaches, this article will teach you about the fundamentals of good coaching, plus how to become better to deliver more value to your clients. 

Skip ahead:

  1. Get past your imposter syndrome

Becoming a coach is like holding a mirror to your life. You are more aware of your weaknesses, flaws, and shortcomings — which can affect your self-confidence. You might develop imposter syndrome and start thinking, “Am I even good enough to be a coach?” 

The best way to overcome these feelings is to coach yourself as you would a client, explains Christine Hassler, co-founder of Elementum Coaching Institute. Speaking at the Evercoach Summit, she said:

“I recommend roleplaying your coaching sessions physically — not in your head or diary since these are too abstract. Instead, set up two chairs facing each other: one for you as a coach and the other for you as a client. Then have a conversation with yourself, switching between the chairs.” 

This lets you experience your brilliance as a coach. As you guide yourself, you’ll see that you actually know what you’re doing. You have interesting experiences that can transform people’s lives. It’s a great way to overcome self-doubt and build your confidence as a coach. 

Learn more: How to overcome imposter syndrome as a creator

  1. Listen more 

One of the biggest mistakes you can make as a coach is thinking that you need to give your client all the answers. So, you spend the entire session telling them what to do based on some arbitrary best practices. 

But that’s not your job. Your primary responsibility as a coach is to listen. As Christine says, “Our deepest wounds come from not feeling seen and heard. So, do not underestimate the power of just holding space for someone else and giving them that permission to share. It’s one of the most powerful things you can do as a coach.”

Focus on being fully present with your client instead of obsessing about what to say next. Through active listening and being present, you’ll naturally discover the right things to say and when to share them.

  1. Avoid assumptions 

Be careful not to make assumptions about what your client says, as it easily leads to misunderstandings. You might end up giving advice or suggestions that don’t align with the client’s realities. 

For example, let’s say your client talks about wanting to grow in their career. You might think they’re aiming for a promotion and start advising them on how to get one. But in reality, they actually want to switch careers for personal satisfaction. Such misunderstanding can be very frustrating. 

To avoid making assumptions, think like a detective. Always ask why until you understand exactly what they mean. Don’t be afraid to take things slowly until you have a clear picture.

For example, if the client says, “I want to grow in my career,” ask what career growth means to them. And if they say, “I want to have a more positive relationship with my partner,” ask them to describe what a more positive relationship looks like. Armed with the right context, you can provide more relevant and impactful guidance. 

  1. Teach from your personal experience 

This sounds like a given, but you’ll be surprised at the sheer number of people who try to coach on subjects that they have little or no personal experience in. 

It’s not about having a ton of coaching certifications. Yes, these can be valuable, but what makes your coaching truly impactful is the ability to identify with your client’s challenge on a personal level. This close connection allows you to offer empathy and unique insights, which can significantly enhance the coaching experience. 

For example, let’s say you’re a financial coach teaching middle-aged people how to manage their money. In this scenario, having a finance certification isn’t as helpful as saying, “Hey! I went bankrupt in my 20s too. Here’s how I was able to turn it around and build better money habits.” 

Read more: How to Improve Your Coaching Skills (10 Proven Methods)

  1. Have a unique client profile 

An ideal client profile is a detailed description of the type of client that you want to attract and serve as a coach. It will help you tailor your services to attract and serve the people who are the best fit for your expertise and approach.

So how do you create one? Christine says that your ideal client profile is you in the past. Think about the person you were when you faced that specific challenge or experience. 

Beyond demographic information like your age, location, or gender, pay particular attention to your state of mind at that time. Write down your fears, questions, and objections in that moment. Then ask yourself: If I had this experience again, what kind of help would I want? That’s the coach you need to be. 

At the end of this exercise, you’ll know the type of client that will benefit the most from your coaching services and how to help them. 

  1. Choose the right coaching tools

You need the right tools to deliver high-quality coaching services. This is even more important when you’re coaching online

As an online coach, you don’t have the physical presence and immediate personal connection that comes with a face-to-face setting. So, it’s much harder to gauge body language, build rapport, and ensure clear communication. You need the right coaching tools to bring in-person experiences to your online coaching sessions. 

As an all-in-one creator education tool, Thinkific makes it easy to plan and deliver impactful coaching sessions at scale. Some features that stand out for our users include: 

  • Live events: You can host one-on-one or group coaching sessions using our live webinar tool. These can be a part of your coaching offering or sold as a separate digital product. 
  • TCommerce: Thinkific allows you to receive payments from coaching clients in different parts of the world. This makes it easy to scale your coaching services to more locations. 
  • Coaching website builder: You can create a beautiful and professional website for your coaching services without writing a line of code. 

Learn more: The best coaching tools and platforms for creators

How to get better at coaching 

Once you’ve got the fundamentals right, the next step is improving your coaching services to serve your clients better. To do this, you’ll need to: 

  1. Have your own coach 

Just like how you help your clients navigate challenges and achieve their goals, having a coach can provide you with the guidance, support, and fresh perspective you need to grow both personally and professionally.

Coaching is a reflective process, and having a coach can help you gain insights into your own behaviors, beliefs, and blind spots. It helps you see things from your client’s point of view. You might find out that behaviors that seem useful from a coach’s point of view might not be as helpful when you’re in the client’s seat. 

The lowest-hanging fruit is to have a business coach who helps you scale your coaching practice. But this doesn’t have to be the case. You can get a coach for some other aspect of your life you’re struggling with — whether that’s maintaining a healthy weight, improving your soft skills, or something else you want to improve. 

Read more: How to Get 10 New Coaching Clients in the Next 90 Days

  1. Outsource tasks 

As your coaching practice scales, you might get overwhelmed with administrative tasks like responding to client emails and scheduling sessions. This could potentially take up so much of your time and energy that you might struggle to adequately prepare for coaching sessions and deliver the high-quality experience your clients expect.

When this happens, it’s time to outsource these time-consuming tasks else you might burn out. For example, you can hire a virtual assistant to handle emails and manage your day-to-day schedule. Then hire a writer to create your coaching curriculum and other instructional materials. Not sure where to start from? Our outsourcing worksheet can help you get started with hiring staff for your coaching business.  

If you don’t have the budget to hire outside help, consider automating repeatable tasks. For example, you can use a scheduling tool to book and add meetings to your calendar automatically. And use AI writing software like Jasper and Writer to create editable templates for coaching materials. 

Related: How different creators use AI tools

  1. Scale your coaching practice

Think about how to scale your coaching practice to deliver more value to your clients and potentially earn more revenue. 

Take online creator coach Kristen Bousquet, for example, who decided to create an online course, having noticed that she was repeating the same information to different clients during one-on-one coaching sessions. Now, she offers a high-ticket course that includes four self-guided modules and three one-on-one coaching calls.

Think of other educational digital products that can complement your existing services. For example, you can sell your coaching program templates as a separate digital product bundle. Or create a paid membership community where clients can connect with people like them. 

Learn more: 13 types of digital products you can create and sell

Keep practicing 

Like everything else, coaching is a skill that improves with practice. Don’t compare yourself with people who have been at it for decades. Rather, commit to trying new things, learning from your mistakes, and improving your services based on client feedback. That’s how you succeed. 

Enjoyed reading this? Check out our other resources to help you grow a thriving coaching business.

How to be a good coach FAQs 

Find answers to the common questions people have about becoming a good coach and scaling their coaching business. 

  1. What skills do you need to become a good coach? 

To be a good coach, you need to develop active listening skills and empathy. You also need to know how to build rapport with your coaching clients and guide them without prescribing solutions to their challenges. For more ideas, check out our detailed article on how to improve your coaching skills

  1. Can I use Thinkific for coaching? 

Yes. Thinkific has a live events feature that allows you to host one-on-one or group coaching sessions easily. 

  1. What are the qualities of an effective online coach? 

An effective online coach needs to be knowledgeable, a good communicator, empathetic, and adaptable. They should have a strong understanding of their field to provide useful advice. 

Clear communication helps clients understand and apply this advice. Listening well ensures the coaching is personalized. Empathy helps build strong relationships and offers support during tough times. Being adaptable means they can change their methods to fit different situations and client needs.

  1. How is online coaching different from in-person coaching? 

In online coaching, sessions take place over video calls, phone calls, or through messaging platforms, allowing for flexibility and convenience in scheduling. On the other hand, in-person coaching involves face-to-face interactions, which can facilitate a more immediate and personal connection between the coach and the client.

Ready to get coaching? Try out Live Events for hosting your coaching sessions with Thinkific.