Discover everything you need to know to avoid the most common mistakes and become a successful life coach
If you’re considering becoming a life coach and starting your own coaching practice, but you aren’t sure where to start or what the process involves, this no-nonsense guide is for you.
I’ll answer your most important questions about becoming a life coach and help you avoid the costly mistakes people often make when starting out in the coaching industry.
Don’t have time to read this now? Bookmark this page and download your copy of the Coaching Success Blueprint– a powerful, free eBook written by our 6, 7, and 8-figure master coaches! Their firsthand insight, tips, and advice will help you jumpstart your coaching career with success!
You’ll benefit from this Complete Guide to Becoming a Life Coach if:
- You’re considering becoming a life coach, but aren’t sure where to start
- You want to become a life coach, but you feel so overwhelmed you haven’t started
- You want to start your life coaching business, but aren’t sure how to transition from your full-time job (or the best way to integrate coaching into your existing career)
- You’re one of the many new coaches who has already started, and you’re ready to make coaching more than a hobby (you want a career that will support you!)
- You’ve completed a training program that taught you coaching skills, but didn’t teach you how to make coaching a viable career path
How will this post make a difference for you?
If you identified with any of the types of people most likely to benefit from this guide, this post will provide you with one thing: Clear answers designed to empower you to take your next best step best next step.
No matter where you are in your life coaching journey, our goal at Brave Thinking Institute is to support you in fulfilling your purpose and accomplishing your dreams- and it starts here!
This guide is packed with insider tips, tangible action steps, and valuable resources to help you make your dream of becoming a successful, professional life coach a reality.
First, you’ll discover how to become a life coach in 7 simple steps:
(Click to jump straight to the step you want to explore!)
- Decide what type of life coach you want to be
- Identify your life coaching niche (find your ideal client)
- Complete your life coaching certification (or don’t!)
- Create your life coaching business, or get hired as a coach (entrepreneurship isn’t your only choice!)
- Identify your services, offerings, and prices
- Put your life coaching brand online
- Find opportunities for growth
PS– If we missed your question about becoming a life coach, please leave it in the comments at the end of the post- we’d love to answer it and add it to the guide!
How to Become a Life Coach in 7 Simple Steps
Step 1: Decide what type of life coach you want to be
Long before you ever see your first clients as a life coach, you’ll have to decide what kind of life coach you want to be. You may have more choices than you thought!
While most people start out thinking they’ll just become a general life coach, choosing a life coaching focus that is aligned and fulfilling for you is an important step that will impact your success as a coach.
To help you decide which type of life coach you should be, consider these 3 questions:
1. What kind of problem would you love to help potential clients solve?
Life coaches help their clients solve problems. Before you choose a focus for your coaching business, consider the types of problems you feel most called to help people overcome and the types of lives you would love to help them create. Be specific, and focus first on what you would love over what seems practical!
2. What type of client do you feel the most passionate about helping?
After you’ve identified the types of problems you would most love to help people solve, think about the types of people you feel most passionate about helping.
You’ll refine who your ideal clients are in the next step, but for now, ask yourself what type of people you resonate most with. What values, life experiences, or goals do they have that would make you a great fit to support them?
3. What skills, personal experiences, and expertise do you already have?
You don’t have to come up with a never-before-seen coaching idea to become a successful life coach! Instead, it’s much more effective to pull from your existing skills and experience. Ask yourself:
- What kinds of problems are you already helping people solve?
- What challenges have you overcome and goals have you achieved in your own life?
- What personal and professional skills do you have now that could help other people?
- What advice do people already come to you for, over and over?
Once you’ve answered these questions, take a moment to explore our list of the most popular types of coaches. As you read, keep your answers in mind and see what types of life coaching resonate the most with you!
Common Mistakes to Avoid:
- Believing that in order to be successful, you have to become a life coach that works with any person with any problem
- Choosing what type of life coach to be based only on how you think you’ll find the most clients
- Choosing what type of life coach to be based on other people’s opinions or approval
You’ll find the most success as a life coach when you’re doing work you’re truly passionate and excited about! The key to what type of life coach you should be lies first in what you would love.
If you aren’t sure what natural gifts and strengths you have that could empower you to help others, take our quiz and find out in just a few minutes!
Step 2: Identify Your Life Coaching Niche
No matter how skilled the coach, no one can help everyone.
A niche is more than just the type of life coach you want to be. Instead, a niche goes a step further and identifies a small segment of the life coaching market that represents your most ideal clients.
For example, if you choose to be a spiritual life coach, that is the type of coach you are. Your niche, however, may be women between the ages of 25 and 35 who want to rediscover their spirituality to create more abundant lives.
The life coaching niche you choose represents a specific audience of potential clients with specific needs, values, and challenges.
Choosing a life coaching niche can help you build a more successful coaching practice by empowering you to:
- Position yourself as an expert in a specific area for a specific audience
- Build credibility with a clear audience, making those people more likely to turn to you for support
- Achieve better results as you perfect your coaching skills for a specific set of challenges and goals
- Focus your messaging and branding to resonate with a specific group
- Stand out from other coaches working in other areas of expertise or those still trying to appeal to everyone
Life coaches who try to appeal to everyone, work with every problem, or avoid choosing a niche often lack clarity in their messaging and content, making it more difficult to connect with new clients, stunting their success.
So, how do you identify the best coaching niche for you? Ask yourself:
1. Who would I most love to work with?
Building on your answers in Step 1, create a detailed description of the person who would be most aligned to work with you as a coach. Consider their lifestyle, background, belief system, problems, values, and goals. What is it about them that would make them a great fit?
2. What problems am I most qualified to solve?
Think beyond degrees and certifications! Consider your experiences, your skills, and your own personal development journey. (You might not have all of these answers yet! Maybe you’re still considering becoming a certified coach, pursuing training, or building your skillset. That’s okay!)
3. What problems are people willing to pay to have help solving?
Typically, people are willing to pay for results that help them experience one of four things: To be, to have, to feel, or to do. The problem(s) that you’re solving for your ideal clients should fall into one (or more) of those categories.
For example, people might invest in results like:
- Being promoted, being a confident person, or being better at managing conflict
- Having a better career, having more money, or having an organized home
- Feeling happier, feeling more fulfilled, or feeling less stressed
- Doing something they thought impossible, doing the thing they were afraid to do, or doing what they were meant to do in life
As you explore these three questions, you’ll gain more clarity about the audience you would love to work with. This insight will empower you to make confident decisions as you set up your business and grow the skills you need to make the most impact as a coach.
Common Mistakes to Avoid:
- Trying to create a business that solves all problems for all people
- Choosing not to pick a life coaching niche because you’re afraid it will limit your income, make it harder to find clients, or keep your business small
- Waiting until you’re more established or more successful as a coach before choosing a niche or identifying your most aligned audience
Refining a stand-out coaching niche for your coaching business helps you get very clear about who you help and how. That clarity helps you connect with more of the right clients, faster and easier!
To dive even deeper into how to identify your best life coaching niche and to explore our list of 2023’s most profitable niches click here. You’ll get even more guidance about identifying your best niche, and a list of life coaching niches you may have never considered!
Step 3: Complete Your Life Coaching Certification (or don’t!)
Completing a life coach training program isn’t required to become a coach. Unlike the mental health and social work fields, there is no governing body overseeing the life coaching industry, which means there are no standardized guidelines or certification requirements to work in the life coaching profession.
So, does that mean anyone can become a life coach? The short answer is, yes!
But, that doesn’t mean that there aren’t great benefits to completing a certification program. In fact, good life coach certification programs empower their coaches to:
- Master the core competencies of effective coaching to make the most impact with their clients
- Use clear systems of transformation that can be repeated and applied to a variety of niches and challenges
- Confidently show up and carve out a space in the coaching industry doing work they absolutely love
- Start and grow a successful coaching practice, avoiding the business pitfalls so many new coaches fall victim to
- Invest in their own personal growth, allowing them to embody the best version of themselves as they empower others to do the same
For aspiring life coaches, professional training isn’t required, but it is a good idea.
But with so many online programs available, how do you choose the right life coach program?
At Brave Thinking Institute, we recommend evaluating any coaching certification program based on the following criteria:
- Do the values of this program align with my own? Do I believe in what this program is teaching?
- Does it use a curriculum that has proven success for both the coaches using it and the clients experiencing it?
- Does this coaching certification program use a methodology that is both repeatable and flexible that I can use with any niche of clients I want to work with?
- Will this coaching program help me master the tools I need to run a successful business? Will I know how to find clients, enroll clients, and market my coaching business?
- How long will it take me to complete this certification? What requirements will I have to fulfill before I can start coaching others?
- What kind of support will I have access to after I’ve finished the program? Is there a community I can connect with or mentorship opportunities?
Common Mistakes to Avoid:
- Costly trial and error trying all the different coaching techniques and tips you find online
- Choosing a life coaching certification program that promises you can get certified in a weekend. These programs rarely result in success
- The misconception that only programs with ICF accreditation are “good” programs. (While the International Coaching Federation has done a great job helping to regulate the coaching industry, great certification programs are not limited to their specific review process. Look for the coaching program that fits you, your values, and your goals best.)
At the Brave Thinking Institute, we’ve created a comprehensive coaching certification program designed to empower life coaches with proven tools for transformation, business and marketing skills, and ongoing support and mentorship after completing certification.
See how the Brave Thinking Institute’s Life Coach Certification Program could benefit you! We’ve laid everything out in one, easy-to-read post.
Step 4: Create your life coaching business, or get hired as a coach (entrepreneurship isn’t your only choice!)
Once you’ve identified what kind of life coach you want to be, explored potential coaching niches, and decided on the best pathway to certification for you, it’s time to start taking the practical steps to starting your life coaching career!
Many of the coaches we train and certify at Brave Thinking Institute dream of running their own life coaching businesses, but entrepreneurship isn’t for everyone!
It’s a common misconception that becoming a life coach means you have to quit your job and start seeing clients in your own office.
The truth is, there are so many options for how you can transition from your current career to a life coaching career that works for you and the lifestyle you’d love. You can:
- Become a fulltime coach and start your own successful life coaching business coaching virtually from your phone or laptop
- Pursue coaching part time as a lucrative, fulfilling side hustle while you keep your full time career
- Coach part time while you prepare to transition out of your full time career at a time that’s right for you
- Retire from your current career and build your life coaching practice to fit your post-retirement lifestyle
- Integrate the highly-transferable skills of life coaching into your existing career for even greater levels of success
- Or anything you can dream up!
If the idea of working for yourself seems overwhelming and you decide to get hired as a coach, exploring coaching jobs in corporations, gyms, health and wellness facilities, universities, and nonprofit organizations can be a great place to start.
If, however, you do long to create a life coaching business with complete time freedom, location freedom, and unlimited income potential, here are some of the basic steps you’ll want to take*:
- Choose a business name, entity type, and register your new coaching business. Registering your business isn’t required to start a coaching practice. But it can help you protect your personal assets and set you up for success in the future.
If you’re starting out as a life coach, you’ll likely be choosing between a Sole Proprietorship and an LLC. For a complete breakdown of the differences between the two, reference this helpful chart by Legal Zoom.
- Choose insurance for your new business. Business insurance also isn’t required to start your coaching practice. But, since you are offering professional and personal advice to your clients, it’s a good idea.
For a breakdown of popular options and provider and cost info, click here.
- Create a budget and secure necessary services. Starting a business doesn’t have to be expensive, especially with the amazing technology we have access to today. But it does usually require some upfront cost. Map out the foreseeable costs for your new business.
At minimum, you’ll want a reliable method of conducting your coaching sessions, a way for new and potential clients to find you, and a solution for scheduling and keeping track of your appointments.
- Find a mentor. I consider this an essential, foundational step to starting a successful coaching business. After all, why spend time and money figuring it all out on your own when you could work with someone who already knows how to get great results?
Read more about the benefits of mentorship here.
Common Mistakes to Avoid:
- Trying to figure it all out on your own. You don’t have to reinvent the wheel to become a life coach. Find others who have already paved the way for your success!
- Ignoring the legal and professional parts of the coaching industry. It can definitely be overwhelming, however a good certification program should prepare you to be able to set your business up for the greatest success. If you do decide to do it on your own, I recommend seeking out professional support.
*Always consult a legal expert or financial advisor before making any personal financial or business decisions. Some situations are unique, and yours may be too!
Step 5: Identify Your Services, Offerings, & Prices
Once your business basics are in line, it’s time to get clear about how you’d love to serve your ideal clients.
Life coaches typically make money in 5 ways:
- Charging per 1×1 session (usually charged hourly)
- Charging per package of 1×1 sessions
- Charging per month for a combination of sessions, resources, and support
- Enrolling clients in group coaching programs
- Selling Products (digital and actual)
How you choose to generate income in your life coaching business is ultimately up to you. There are no right or wrong answers!
To help, here are a few tips and guidelines for deciding what offerings might work best for you:
- Use a clear, effective coaching program. A great coaching program both attracts more committed clients who are prepared to invest time and money into their personal development, and also helps you establish more predictable income as a coach.
We train our coaches at Brave Thinking Institute on how to enroll and successfully facilitate our proven coaching programs and curriculum. We’ve found that usually provides the most success!
- Diversify. You don’t have to choose just one of these income-driving avenues. You’ll probably find that a combination of services feels and works best for you.
For example, you might run a great 3 month group coaching program, see a handful of 1×1 coaching clients who desire deeper support, and decide to publish a book! Focus on what feels life-giving and sustainable for your coaching career. You don’t have to do what everyone else does.
- Use a contract for clarity. Be sure you have a clear contract for your clients so both you and they know exactly what to expect. No matter what types of coaching sessions, programs, or services you choose to offer in your business, always strive for clear communication and integrity.
The best life coaching certification programs should also provide training and support on the business side of becoming a life coach. From offers to sales and marketing to contracts, your coaching certification should provide clarity on how you will sell your services to clients, in addition to teaching you how to coach. Find out what else a great certification course should offer here!
Common Mistakes to Avoid:
- Limiting yourself to selling 1×1 sessions that keep you stuck in the cycle of trading your time for money. With this model, your income will always be limited by how many hours you can work in a day!
- Getting caught up in guesswork and trial and error of what to offer and how without a proven, repeatable system to help your clients achieve their goals. Your life coaching business shouldn’t feel like throwing spaghetti against the wall to see what sticks!
Step 6: Put Your Life Coaching Brand Online
First thing’s first: You don’t have to master every piece of technology every other coach is using to be successful!
I hate to see passionate people procrastinate on their dreams of becoming life coaches because they’re overwhelmed by the amount of technology they think you need to master.
The truth is, in order to make your coaching business public online, all you actually need is:
- A place to share your information (a simple website, Facebook page, or even your existing social media accounts)
- A way to connect with your clients (a phone, Skype account, Zoom account, or an office space)
- An email address (we recommend gmail for free, easy, and professionally appropriate)
- And a way to process payments (Paypal and Stripe are both great options)
If you’ve established the basics, you can start promoting your business and attracting clients right away.
If you want to expand the technology your business uses in order to reach more clients, you can also consider:
- A scheduling system to track client appointments, allow clients to schedule their own appointments, and to accept payment automatically (Acuity Scheduling, Calendly, and You Can Book Me are some to explore!) Or, opt for a more all-inclusive system like Honeybook or Satori.
- Program and course creation platforms that allow you to record content, classes, and programs for clients to access or purchase at any time. (Kajabi, Podia, Teachable, and Thinkific are good examples)
- Email Marketing Service that will allow you to collect email addresses and send professional communication to your list of existing and potential clients. Coaches often email their lists about helpful insight, resources, new programs or offerings, and sales and discounts. (Consider platforms like Flodesk, Convertkit, or Mailchimp, depending on your needs)
- Design resources you can use to create custom social media graphics, workbooks, or anything you can dream up. (Canva is a great, affordable option for this)
Tips for setting up a website
We do recommend life coaches have a website of their own as a part of their growing coaching business. Most of your potential clients are already spending time online! But, it doesn’t need to be complicated or a lot of work to be effective.
In fact, your website only needs to cover who you are, who you help, and how you help them. It should give potential clients a clear way to connect with you and sign up for your services.
If you aren’t sure where to start, here are a few tips to guide you:
- If you aren’t sure how to make a website, consider hiring a web designer or using a drag-and-drop website builder like Squarespace or Weebly.
- Your website will require a domain name and a hosting service.
Think of a domain name like a home address and a hosting service like the house at that address. One tells people how to find a home while the other is the space that holds everything in the home. Some services, like Squarespace and Weebly will include and automate this process for you.
- Make your web address as clear, simple, and memorable as possible. If you can secure your business name or your own name, that’s best!
- When deciding on what to say, what pictures to use, and how to present your your offers, always consider your ideal client first. Ask yourself what they need to read, see, and feel on your website to feel confident about working with you.
- Look at other websites in your coaching niche or of coaches you admire for inspiration as you create your own. Consider both what you like about those sites, as well as what you think works for their audience.
- On the very first page of your website, be sure it is clear who you help, what you help them with, and how you help them.
For more in-depth guidelines about creating a life coaching business website, see this helpful article!
Tips for Using Social Media
As you build your life coaching business and brand, you can connect with potential clients is through social media.
Here is my biggest piece of advice when it comes to using social media for your life coaching brand: You do not have to become a viral sensation on every single social media platform for success!
In fact, in order to use social media effectively, you actually don’t want to try and master every single platform or get likes and follows from every single person!
Social media is an opportunity to showcase your unique message, story, and beliefs. It’s a mechanism to connect with your most ideal audience of potential clients.
To amplify your impact on social media, consider these tips:
- Consider your ideal client from Steps 1 and 2. Which social media platforms is he or she most likely to be spending time on? For example, does your ideal client use Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn, Youtube, Pinterest, Tiktok, or something different? Those are the platforms to focus on!
- Of those platforms, choose 1 or 2 that you feel you can commit to using consistently. Consistency is one of the primary driving factors for success on most social platforms. Many people struggle because they try to use and master too many platforms at once.
- Research what kind of content performs best on the platforms you chose. For example, video or images? What length or size? What posting frequency gets the best results?
- Curate your social media content to resonate with your ideal client. Focus on content that is relatable to where they are now, their pain, and their challenges. As well as content that speaks to how it will feel and look when they have solutions.
Above all else, always strive to provide value that directly relates to what your ideal clients need and want most!
- Humanize yourself! Your social media should help people know, like, and trust you. Don’t forget to show your face. Let people in on the behind the scenes of your business, and seek to build connections.
Common Mistakes to Avoid:
- Thinking you have to figure out your online presence and branding all at once. Start simple, and allow it to grow as your business and your confidence grows!
- Trying to master all the popular social media platforms at once. Focus on the 1-2 where your ideal client is most likely to spend their time.
- Forgetting that your online presence should be clear and value-driven. You are building relationships with potential clients and your content should align with their needs and values.
Step 7: Find Opportunities for Growth
Becoming a successful life coach extends beyond your initial decision to coach, and even beyond the start of your business.
The truth is, becoming a life coach is an ongoing process of growth and expansion.
The best life coaches are always in the position of learning. They seek to grow their skills, add new tools and methods to their coaching toolkit, look for opportunities for mentorship, and continue their own personal and professional development.
I often say, one of the greatest lessons I learned about success as a life coach is this- What’s green grows, what’s ripe rots.
The meaning is simple. When we come to a place where we believe we’re ripe enough, we know enough, we’re grown enough, we rot. And our potential clients can sense that!
Stay on the green, growing edge of your own potential. Seek out learning opportunities, new understanding, and expansion. It will directly impact the growth and success of your life coaching career.
Common Mistakes to Avoid:
- Missing the opportunity of mentorship. This is one of the fastest, easiest ways to ensure your success as a coach!
- Thinking you know enough to stop pursuing your own personal and professional development
- Believing you have to be perfect or have all the answers to coach others. Read more about this common trap here!
Quick Links to Becoming a Life Coach FAQ’s
- Can life coaching really be a profitable career for me?
- How do I know if life coaching is my true purpose?
- What kind of coach should I be?
- How do I know what life coaching niche to choose?
- What will I actually do as a life coach?
- Where can I read life coach success stories?
Where can I find more information about becoming a life coach?
Becoming a life coach could be your opportunity to design a career that you love.
It might seem too good to be true, but we’ve helped thousands of people create careers they only dreamed possible…
In fact, now is the perfect time to start a coaching business.
- It’s easier than you think! With our certification program, you’re only 6 months away from massive impact and abundant income as a coach.
- You can help others transform their lives and fulfill your calling without spending years (or hundreds of thousands of dollars) for another degree you don’t need.
- You’ll join a rapidly growing industry with clients who can’t wait to work with you. The demand for life coaches is higher than ever, and projected to keep growing.
- You get to design a business that works for you, instead of working a job that takes from you. On average, coaches report higher career satisfaction and more income, working half the time!
You can get started now by taking advantage of a free strategy session with us!
Our experts will personally answer any questions you may have about becoming a life coach. In one, 60-min video call you’ll get clarity, confidence, and tailored action steps designed specifically for you.