How to become a life coach
I get a lot of people who are interested in becoming a life coach write to me to ask for advice, so I’ve written this page as a resource for those FAQs which I shall continue to update as necessary.
Please note that everything expressed here is my own personal opinion, should not be regarded as fact, and every care should be taken to do your own further research and draw your own conclusions that work for you.
Why did I become a life coach?
I became a life coach because of my life-long passion for psychology, personal growth, and personal experience with self-transformation. I started studying psychology at A-level when I was 16, and in fact, even before that I was reading personal development and psychology books as opposed to fiction.
I then went on to study psychology at university, because even back then I understood that at the route of absolutely everything in life is you and WHO you’re being. I knew that if I wanted to become successful, at anything, it was best to learn about how my human brain and psyche works so that I could achieve the things I wanted to achieve. Because the person I was back then certainly didn’t know how to! I might have had some great academic success, but this did nothing to help me in the real world.
After university I figured that career-wise I wanted to do something ‘with people’ (helpful!) and so I went into a graduate management scheme in social care organisations, which just so happened to include sessions with a coach throughout the year. This scheme helped me to refine ‘which people’ I wanted to help. I realised I wanted to work with people who were already doing reasonably well in life, they just wanted to become better and achieve more. That was what I could relate to.
This led me to getting a job in HR with a plan to work my way up the career ladder in occupational psychology. However, at the age of 22 I was fortunate enough to have an existential crisis and realise that there had got to be more to life than sitting at a desk Mon-Fri 9-5. It was around this time that becoming a life coach and working for myself was emerging to be the career path that fulfilled all of my desires.
How did I become a life coach?
At 22 I figured I would be too young to become a life coach and be taken seriously, having not yet experienced much of life, so I went off to work on cruise ships for a couple of years, for 2 main reasons:
To experience a totally different way of living life, and to prove that there was one besides the one society was trying to get me to conform to
To experience a huge personal development shift myself
Prior to joining the ships, I struggled with low confidence, shyness, and lack of self belief. Me going travelling by myself and joining the ships was my opportunity to recreate who I knew myself to be. And I sure did. You can read more about my personal journey on my about me page.
After I got tired of ship life I returned to London and took on a part time job that would earn me enough money to cover my living expenses whilst I studied my coaching diploma.
I trained with The Coaching Academy, studying their Personal Performance Diploma and NLP. In my opinion, the diploma was a good introduction to ONE form of coaching, that which focuses on goal setting and achievement. However as I progressed as a coach I realised I wanted to do more deeper level, mindset shifting, transformational work, which this diploma at the time didn’t really cater for. I learnt this stuff through other courses and coaches, including the Landmark Forum.
Once that was complete I was turned my attention to starting my business. Something which I knew absolutely nothing about, in fact, pre-cruise ship life I didn’t think I’d EVER be able to run my own business - that was just NOT something that “people like me” did.
As it happens, I kept my part time job for 9 months before quitting and going full time as a coach and business owner.
However, qualifying and incorporating my limited company, was only just the beginning. As my Mum always used to say, “once you pass your driving test, that’s when you start to learn to drive.”
Do you need to train and get accredited to become a coach?
You don’t ‘have to’, as currently this industry is unregulated. However, there are many people out there who are not trained or accredited, and end up giving the profession a bad name by giving bad experiences. My recommendation is don’t become one of those people. Considering that coaching is all about personal growth, I think we as coaches should be doing as much as we can to continually grow ourselves. That can be in the form of coaching training, or receiving coaching itself. Personally I’ve probably invested more in hiring coaches and going on personal development courses than I have in formal coaching training.
The reason why is because investing in my own personal growth means I am actually walking my talk and overcoming my hurdles which means I am far better placed to help others with theirs, as opposed to simply understanding a set of skills.
That said, there’s a place and a benefit to both.
As for accreditation, in my years as a coach I think I’ve had only one person ask me whether I had accreditation or not. I don’t, and she still became my client. Accreditation is useful if you want to go down the route of working with corporates, organisations, or partners as they often require this.
What is it like being a life coach?
Incredibly rewarding. There are few things in life more satisfying than serving people and making a difference to others. Seeing my clients have breakthroughs and achieve the things they want to achieve gives me a feeling that tells me I will probably be a coach for the rest of my life.
What it is like having your own business?
For me, there’s no alternative. I’ve never been able to quite fathom being an employee. Having to ask permission to take time off? What’s that about?! Having to stand in really long queues at the Post Office at 1pm because that’s when everyone else is on their lunch break? No thanks. I have nothing against people who dream to have a successful corporate career - if that’s what works for them. It just doesn’t work for me.
At the same time, it comes with its own set of challenges that employee-life does not. The lack of guaranteed pay check at the end of the month. The guilty feeling you get for taking time off. The lack of colleagues and office banter. Both routes come with their own set of advantages and disadvantages, you just have to choose the set that best works for you.
How do you become a successful life coach?
With a lot of perseverance, commitment, passion, resilience and determination.
By working on yourself.
And most importantly, by helping people to create the results they really want to create.
What should my coaching niche be?
Grab a piece of paper and write down your life story, i.e. the hurdles and challenges you’ve experienced and overcame.
Ask yourself what life event or problem you are most passionate about.
That’s most likely going to be your best niche.
How do you get clients?
Simple: people will pay to work with you if they believe that doing so will help them to create the result they are desperate to create.
But not easy.
Whether people believe that they will get the result they want from working with you depends on whether YOU believe you can get them the result they want. My coaching business became successful when I really truly believed that working with me would transform their lives.
I’ve also found that your success often comes down to a lot of subconscious magic that goes on behind the scenes. For example, a few weeks ago I delivered my emotional intelligence talk to a different audience two nights in a row. The first night was my first night delivering the talk in a while and I wasn’t quite at my best. The second night, after having had practice, I was more confident and at ease. The first talk yielded nothing in terms of potential new clients. The second yielded a wonderful soulmate client who signed up to work with me almost straight away. The content was exactly the same. It was ME who was different. Who you are being plays a really big, mystical part in your success. Hence why I say that getting a personal coach is essential!
A second really important point here is to do with money. Whenever I found myself needing money, subconsciously, my business suffered. Whenever I found myself not needing money, and just able to truly serve the client in front of me 100% without needing anything from them, my business grew. Go figure?!?!
This is why building a successful coaching business is SO MUCH MORE than marketing strategies, branding, and website copy. It’s also, if not more so, about YOU.
No but really, HOW do you get clients?
Ok, you want the more practical answer. The majority of my clients have come from either finding my website through a search engine, or seeing me at one of my live talks. I started out by giving talks on confidence and emotional intelligence, and that proved a great way to get noticed and build my credibility and expertise with people.
There is no one right or best way to attract clients. Don’t believe the scammy Facebook ads that promise you £10k a month in 3 easy steps with the ONLY method that works. Don’t be fooled into thinking that you have to be on social media in order to be successful. You don’t. The right method is the one that you love to put time and energy into. Some people love to record videos of themselves, others don’t. Some people love to write blogs, others don’t. Some people love to give talks, others don’t. Whether you love the strategy or not will show through subconsciously and will either attract or repel people.
Choose the marketing strategies that you enjoy. Excel at them. And use them as channels to give value to people from the very beginning.
Finally, what advice would I give to anyone interested in becoming a coach?
Don’t become dependent on your coaching business to pay your mortgage. ‘Needing clients’ is the fastest way to ensure you won’t get any
Get a part time job, freelance work, or generous partner that covers you financially and allows you enough time to work with clients and grow your business
Don’t become a coach to make money, become a coach to make a huge difference, and coincidentally you will make all the money you want
Don’t quit that part time job without some sort of financial security underneath you for at least a few months ahead, so that if you hit a dry spell, you’re not freaking out about running out of money
Being a coach and running a business are two separate things and you don’t have to do both. Being self employed isn’t for everyone. Take time to consider which option is right for you
Don’t wait for things to be perfect before you start. You will be editing your website for as long as you are a coach. The important thing is to get out there and start and refine along the way as you learn
Marketing yourself is not about ‘how to get clients’. It’s about ‘how can I give value?’ Show people that you can help them and solve their problems, via the approaches that you enjoy the most
Build your business around your life, not the other way around. Being a business owner doesn’t have to be 14 hour days and no time-off. From the very beginning I designed my business with the end in mind. Just 3 years in and I’m fortunate enough to be location independent (able to work from anywhere in the world), I exercise daily, and work probably no more than 20 - 25 hours a week, allowing me enough time to follow my other interests in life which in turns keeps me happy and motivated. No-one wants a stressed, busy coach that’s unhappy with their own life. Enjoying the journey is far more important than the end goal
Finally, get a coach. Because you won’t make money as a coach if you’re not willing to invest in one for yourself.
With love and magic,