Life coaching is important work. And when you create passive income streams around your coaching business, it can be downright lucrative.
This might seem a little intimidating, but it doesn’t have to be. Coaches like you are building passive income at all stages of their careers. It won’t happen overnight, and the money won’t be life-changing (at least not at first.) But over time, adding passive revenue streams can take your business from shaky to rock-solid.
In this article, we’ll break down everything you need to know about passive income (and why it’s become so important for life coaches.) Then, we’ll dive into key strategies you can use to create passive income around your coaching business—and build your personal brand online.
Here’s some shortcuts, if you’re eager to jump ahead:
- What is passive income?
- Why passive income streams are vital for life coaches
- Five ways life coaches like you can earn passive income
- Build your life coaching brand on Instagram, YouTube, and TikTok
- Create your own online course
- Start a blog, email newsletter or podcast
- Write and publish an eBook
- Tap into affiliate marketing
What is passive income?
Passive income is money that you earn when people use something valuable and permanent that you’ve created, e.g. an eBook, webinar, or online course. Once you put this type of resource out there, it generates income without your active involvement.
For coaches, passive income is separate from hourly rates, coaching client rosters, and the number of coaching sessions that can be squeezed into a week.
Put another way: Active income depends on what you do, but passive income depends on what you own.
You might be making $231/hour—that’s the average salary for coaches in the United States, per the Financial Times. But without additional revenue streams, you can only earn as much as you can work, because your income is purely active.
On the flipside: if you’re selling an online coaching course, racking up digital marketing referrals, or selling an eBook on executive mindsets, you’re earning passive income.
Why passive income streams are vital for life coaches
Pre-COVID, you were probably coaching in-person, at least some of the time. Many industries were riding the record-breaking bull market of the late 2010s were investing in leadership development with executive coaching. The ROI on life coaching for executives and managers was close to 600%, and that meant solid, regular business for many coaches like you.
And then… well, you know (you lived it). The bottom fell out from many industries, and remote work became our new reality. Budgets got cut, and companies scrambled to adapt to the new normal. (Some companies even set up life coaching for their teams, to help them deal with all the change.)
But many life coaches took a big financial hit as their active incomes decreased. 49% of coach practitioners reported reduced income during the pandemic, according to a 2020 study by the International Coaching Federation. The same study found that 51% of life coaches reported losing active clients, and that 37% reported reduced work hours.
This meant that passive income sources became more important than ever. And many coaches finally had the time to build their audiences on social media, create valuable intellectual property (like courses and eBooks), and create income streams outside hourly client work.
Five ways life coaches like you can create passive income streams
Build your life coaching brand on Instagram, YouTube, and TikTok
Before you leap to monetizing your coaching brand, make people care about it. You don’t need hundreds of thousands of followers. A small, engaged community that responds to your coaching content is just as valuable as a larger, less passionate one (if not more.)
So let’s work backwards: how do you build an online community?
The simple truth is: you just need to communicate something valuable. For life coaches, that often looks like self-help advice, reassurance, and encouragement. If you’re consistent, friendly, and helpful, you’ll find your following online.
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Here’s some easy, popular types of content you can get started with today. (They’ll work for videos or for regular social media posts)
- How-tos. Take people inside your coaching practice. Tell them how you’ve helped different clients work on their personal development goals, and show the final outcomes. Leave viewers with tips they can bring into their own lives, and boom—you’ve just shown potential clients how great you are.
- Before and afters. Use testimonials and case studies to show your audience how your life coaching has made a difference
- Words of encouragement and affirmation. Post an affirmation you told a client recently—or share something that helped one of your clients break through a mental barrier.
- Thought-provoking monologues. Start a dialogue. Talk about common challenges your clients face, or mistakes you see new life coaches make. Draw on your experiences, tell stories that are personal to you, and let people in.
What’s the connection between online community and passive income?
Having an online audience of any size means you’ll have more market demand for your passive income streams than coaches who just chuck their eBooks or blog posts out into the void. Again, we’re not talking about millions of people—just a small, focused community. That’s all it takes.
Want to see what this looks like in action? You should get familiar with life coach Tori Gordon. Gordon’s TikToks have attracted a massive audience that cares about her coaching, and more importantly, cares about her. That community of 800,000+ people means many potential buyers for her Coachable University courses, which she promotes through her website.
Create your own online course
Online courses are a rock-solid way to start creating passive income around your coaching business. (That’s our specialty at Thinkific, and we’ve already helped many coaches and teachers like you.)
The key is to focus in on a niche where your expertise can shine. Going too broad is going to make your course come across as fluffy, unfocused, and not serious enough. Be honest: wouldn’t you rather take “Your Guide to Switching Careers in Tech” than “The Answers to Life, Love and Literally Everything.”
Having trouble narrowing down your ideas? Start by thinking about your own skillset, including (but not limited to) life coaching. What do you know better than anyone else—and could you coach someone who’s trying to learn it?
The sky’s the limit—the only thing that matters is your knowledge. And the more unique and focused your course is, the more likely you are to be the leading coach in your space. That means visibility, plenty of students, and… a solid passive income stream. (We’ve also got a handy ten-step guide that’ll help you get started.)
Eager to create your own coaching course but don’t know where to start? Don’t worry—we’ve got you covered. Thinkfic makes it easy to create and sell your own courses, even if you’re not very tech savvy. You can even get started for free today.
Start a blog, email newsletter or podcast
Blogs, email newsletters and podcasts are great for life coaches who want to build passive income outside social media. These content formats let you build direct connections and community with life coaching prospects, and they’re great ways to find buyers for your online coaching courses.
First and foremost, your blog, newsletter or podcast should showcase your coaching skills and advertise your core business as a life coach. If you’re getting more consultation requests, you’re winning.
But that’s not the whole story. Blogs, newsletters and podcasts are also publications that you can monetize and use to run up those residual checks.
When you’re starting one, your focus should be creating useful, engaging content first. You don’t want your podcast, newsletter or blog to seem like pure advertising—you want just a small, tolerable hint of self-promotion.
And if you’re very busy with your core business, don’t pressure yourself to do all three—just pick one content format. Here’s five ideas you can steal to get started:
- Ask a client if you can record a coaching session (in exchange for a discount), and publish it as a podcast.
- Blog about your own journey as a life coach—and share how you broke into the industry.
- Break down some highlights from your coaching sessions in a weekly email newsletter.
- Blog about common mindset challenges you see in your coaching clients—and how you help them break through.
- Interview other life coaches about their career paths for your podcast.
Write and publish an eBook
eBooks are another fantastic way to generate passive income—especially if you’ve already got a library of successful blog posts to adapt into book form.
Writing an eBook may seem intimidating, but remember that you’re not writing a novel. You’ll have more success writing a shorter, 20-50 page guide that empowers people trying to learn a specific skill or make a specific change in their lives. Use the same strategy you use for course design: narrow in on your expertise, and don’t go too broad. That’s where you’ll create value worth paying for.
Wonder what this looks like in practice? Look no further than strategic book coach Honorée Corder. She specializes in helping authors get published—and turn their literary dreams into reality. Her books include You Must Write A Book, Prosperity for Writers: A Writer’s Guide to Creating Abundance, and Vision to Reality: How Short Term Action Equals Long-Term Maximum Results, among many others.
She’s got a well-defined coaching niche: literary coaching. Within that niche, she’s published enough to establish herself as a thought leader and a brand name. Now, her eBooks are available on Amazon, where she can reach a very wide audience — and generate great sales.
I got to feature @Honoree in my new book! Guys she’s written over 50 books and is an executive book coach! She loves royalty income, and I’ll show you how to create it for yourself in my next book (coming nov 19) pic.twitter.com/Mx7G7ZRBVP
— Money Honey Rachel (@MoneyHoneyRach) November 7, 2019
This said: writing an eBook is not for everyone. It’s challenging, and represents a big time investment. You might not have the time, and that’s totally okay. And if you don’t have an audience that you can convert into paying readers, we suggest starting off by launching an online course, or starting a blog, podcast, or newsletter. There’s less start-up risk, and a higher potential ROI.
Tap into affiliate marketing
Got a blog, podcast, TikTok, Instagram—or some other type of public platform for your coaching business? If so, you’re ready to get started with affiliate marketing.
As an affiliate marketer, you’ll get paid by referring customers to brands. This is how it works: You post affiliate links, and brands track who you send their way. Every time you drive a sale, you get a commission.
According to Statista, affiliate marketing spending in just the United States will soar to $8.4 billion by the end of 2022, so there’s lots of money to be made. All you’ve got to do is start selling.
Start by signing up for an affiliate program, and looking through the list of partners. Then, start to think about which products would be a good fit for your brand as a life coach.
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Popular products for life coaches to advertise include books, courses, and productivity and wellness software. That’s because they’re products your audience is already interested in checking out.
Here’s eight reputable affiliate programs to get you started:
- Instagram Affiliate
- AWIN (prev. Affiliate Window)
- Amazon Associates Program
- CJ Affiliate
- Thinkific Affiliate Program
- Udemy Affiliates Program
And one last thing: you can even use affiliate marketing to help sell online courses you’ve created with Thinkific. For a share of the profits, you can incentivize other creators to share your courses with their audiences. That’s win-win.
So, what’s next?
Now that you’ve got a few passive income strategies under your belt, you’re ready to scale your coaching program. And the fastest, most effective way to reach more clients and build passive income is to take your coaching services online.
That’s where Thinkific comes in. We make it easy to grow your business by adding self-guided coaching courses to your repertoire. Our easy-to-use online course design platform helps coaches, educators, and digital content creators build engaging, custom eLearning experiences and grow sustainable online businesses.
Try Thinkific for free and get the course creation, marketing, and selling tools you need to take your coaching business to the next level. (No tech skills required!)