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Some people not only see potential in others but also know how to develop it into a productive and enjoyable life. People who do that for a living are called life coaches, and their work is just as essential to their client’s well-being as that of fitness coaches and nutrition coaches.

As more and more people become interested in self-improvement, the demand for online life coaches is on the rise. In this guide, we take a close look at how to become a life coach online. We also cover everything you need to do to productively organize your work with clients anywhere in the world.

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What does an online life coach do?

Most people who haven’t tried professional coaching before might wonder how it is possible for someone to be able to help with everything.

There are two answers. First, life coaching is more of an umbrella term — actual coaches tend to specialize either on certain aspects of your life (e.g. marriage) or on your emotional state (e.g. lack of clear goals for the future).

Second, more than anything, life coaching is a framework, a set of universal principles that can be applied to nearly any problem.

So, what life coaches really do is help their clients identify goals, make life changes, develop productive habits and provide emotional support.

Life coaching removes the interference that stands between clients and the achievement of their potential.Curly Martin, The Life Coaching Handbook

Who can become an online life coach?

The only thing you need to start your coaching practice online is clients. For the most part (with the exception of health coaches), life coaching is an unregulated industry.

That doesn’t, however, mean that the life coaching business is easy. In fact, unless you already have a wealth of life experience, you should take a few online courses for personal development before you start coaching others. Or, better yet, get an official coaching certificate from the ICF (International Coach Federation).

Certified life coach training programs are getting more and more popular every year. The ICF estimates there are currently  more than 70,000 coaches worldwide.

How long does it take to become a life coach?

The amount of time you need to become a coach online depends on many factors and can take as long as it takes you to complete your education and start onboarding clients. The good news is: you can start right away and take on clients as you complete your coaching certificate on the side.

How much does it cost to become a life coach?

You should remember that learning is an investment into your coaching practice, and it  will yield a ROI (return on investment) over time. The better your credentials, the more you’ll be able to charge. You’ll also build a stronger position as an expert in your field, and you may end up getting invited to speaking opportunities and professional publications. This in turn can create additional revenue streams for your practice.

That said, in general, ICF-accredited coaching courses can cost anywhere from $1,000 to $5,000, depending on where the institution is located.

How to become a life coach online in 9 steps

You now have an idea whether you want to build an online business in coaching and you understand the time and the cost of getting certified. What are the next steps in getting a successful life coaching business off the ground?

Step 1: Identify your niche and your audience

As we already mentioned, the most important part of coaching is your audience. Ask yourself, “who do I want to coach, and why?”

Coaches honor the client as the expert in his or her life and work, and believe every client is creative, resourceful and whole.Diane S. Menendez, Becoming a Professional Life Coach

Starting with the audience in mind will help you figure out your niche. If you’d like to focus on recent graduates, then career coaching might be a good option. With the focus on CEOs, you might prefer to shift into mindset coaching that will help with productivity and stress management.

There are many interesting life coaching niches. They include:

  • Relationship coaching
  • Health coaching
  • Spiritual coaching (e.g. energy healing)
  • Grief coaching
  • Business coaching
  • Travel coaching
  • Nutrition coaching

If you’re not sure which niche you’d like to pursue, just pick one and spend a few months working on your skills and setting up a framework around it. After you learn the fundamentals of life coaching, switching to another niche would be much easier.

Step 2: Work on your skills

In the ideal world, you’d have an extensive background in the niche you’re about to coach others in. You might be a corporate leader who is interested in career and executive coaching, or a talented public speaker who wants to help others with communication skills and strategies.

Still, keeping your skills up to date with the industry is very important. Taking up a few courses, going to conferences and regularly scanning social media is just about the minimum you could do.

If you’re interested in attending ICF-accredited coaching sessions:

  1. Find an institution that offers a course of your choice.
  2. Join ICF.
  3. Complete the course.
  4. Add the certificate to your credentials on your website and social media.

Once you’re ready to start your practice, you should think about how you’ll structure your online coaching sessions.

Step 3: Set up a framework for your work

Every successful coach has a unique methodology. However, you don’t have to reinvent the wheel and come up with new coaching techniques. A better option is to start by adopting already proven coaching programs and methods for leading effective coaching sessions.

How you deliver your coaching really matters. There are multiple instructional design models you can follow to make your content more engaging and memorable to your clients.

Additionally, you should structure your practice around your own goals. Are you trying to build a life coaching business or are you just sharing a single life coaching program with others?

How many clients do you want to take on at any given time? How much time every week do you want to devote to coaching?

These and other questions will help you shape a sustainable coaching practice and avoid burnout.

Step 4: Work out a pricing strategy

Since life coaching is such a diverse and unregulated industry, online life coaches charge vastly different prices for their work.

If you work in one-on-one coaching, one approach would be to charge something close to an industry average, which you can source online or by asking other coaches. This might seem fair — but oftentimes, it’s ineffective.

A better way is to charge based on value. If you’re a travel coach, ask yourself how much do your clients value lifelong travel experiences? It’s likely a much higher sum than your hourly costs. You can (and should) charge accordingly.

To make your services more accessible to a wider audience without overwhelming your schedule, you should also create online courses. While online courses are not expensive, they only require the work to be done once and can then be leveraged multiple times, easily recouping the initial investment without any extra effort.

Step 5: Build your personal brand

When you’re a life coach, a personal brand is everything.

Life coaches should be inspirational. You should try to lead by example. So don’t be afraid to share your own ups and downs — and how you deal with them — publicly via social media (i.e. Twitter and Instagram).

Offer your opinion in the ongoing debates. Try to get in front of larger audiences — make appearances on TV, radio and podcasts, if possible.

You should also have a centralized online presence where you can direct your new audience, like a website. Email marketing is another great brand-building tool. Collect email signups and write to your audience directly, with the goal of eventually converting them to paying clients of your online courses and coaching sessions.

Step 6: Build an online life coaching program

Depending on your life coaching specialty, you could either create a few separate coaching programs online, each with its own theme, or design a single online life coaching program as a membership.

Instead of coaching clients one-on-one, you can create a subscription-based program for many. You can also set up Slack channels or Facebook Groups for your course participants, creating a supportive community of like-minded individuals (and adding value to your services).

Creating programs and courses like these today takes much less effort than you would think —  especially when you have the right software at your disposal.

Thinkific is an easy-to-use platform for building and marketing online courses. It doesn’t require you to know any programming at all. You can use its intuitive drag-and-drop interface to design, build and sell your online courses from a single dashboard.

On top of that, you can create your marketing website with Thinkific to to build a centralized hub of online presence.

See how quickly you can start selling your Thinkific course in this video tutorial.

Step 7: Market your online life coach business

Once your online courses are up and running, you need to help your audience find and join them. In this sense, coaching requires some marketing skills — but the best way to start promoting your services is collecting and showing off testimonials from happy clients.

Word of mouth recommendations are also a strong, low-cost marketing strategy. Using social media (primarily Twitter and Instagram) to present your thoughts and respond to any questions will, over time, activate your referral network.

You can also start a YouTube channel and use it to give people a free glimpse into your practice.

Make sure to crosslink everything and include all the valuable content you produce on your website to be more visible in Google (this is basic SEO).

Most importantly, be patient. Frequent updates to Twitter, Instagram, YouTube and your own website will make these tools much more useful to you over time.

Step 8: Collect feedback from coaching clients

There’s nothing more important in coaching than getting constant feedback from your clients and adjusting your strategy accordingly. Especially if you’re still figuring out your specific life coaching niche!

Create regular polls on social media, send out surveys and ask your clients for feedback directly. Make that data anonymous if you have to, but try to gather it as often and as early in the process as possible.

Step 9: Analyze and improve

In analyzing data, it’s critical to not just act on things you like to hear. Some of the more effective solutions and improvements are hiding in criticism that may, at first, seem hard to accept.

Regularly schedule time (e.g. an hour a week) to update your old processes with any of the new feedback coming in. That way you can stay agile and even become more resilient as your practice matures.

Get started with online courses

Now that you know how to become an online life coach, there’s nothing stopping you from putting theory into action — and start making money online.

Create a Thinkific course today to see how easy it is to organize your expertise into an engaging and profitable learning experience.

Get started with Thinkific for free and build a foundation for a new source of income in as little as one day.