How to Become a Life Coach – This article will show you how to become a life coach and was written to make a practical difference between success and failure. This is the ultimate guide!
Note: You don’t need to have iNLP Center training to become a life coach or to benefit from these resources.
There are people for whom becoming a life coach is an ideal career choice. Many life coach candidates, however, miss the opportunity to follow their passion due to bad advice, often published by life coach training centers and marketing gurus whose sole interest is to sell training.
It’s time for a real guide that shows you, step-by-step, how to become a life coach. And we’ll dispense with the unrealistic expectations.
If you are serious about becoming a professional life coach, you will be encouraged by what you read here. We’ve outlined the process very clearly in order to help you safely and sanely make the transition into your new coaching business. We also recommend taking the Life Coach Aptitude Test so you can discover which skill sets to focus on in your life coach training.
My only goal in presenting this information is to provide an unbiased, step-by-step tutorial for anyone who wants to know how to become a life coach. The industry needs it. Too many people fail due to having false information.
If you’re ready to dive in, let’s go! Knowing how to become a life coach means understanding 10 key steps.
Becoming a life coach is a career move and should not be taken lightly. Below is a brief summary of the steps involved. We’ll expand on each step further into the article.
1. Know your life coaching aptitude score
2. Develop your unique coaching vision
3. Learn which skills you’ll need to be in business as a life coach
4. Plan your transition (wisely) into a life coaching career
5. Determine the best life coach certification and credentialing
6. Set up your life coaching business
7. Understand what really brings in (and retains) life coaching clients
8. Create custom coaching packages
9. Use a marketing system to bring in the right clients
10. Step up your online presence to expand your reach
These the basics of becoming a life coach. The rest of this post will give you enough details on each of the steps to get you started on the right foot.
But first, perhaps you’d also like to know…
I’m Mike Bundrant, a retired psychotherapist and active NLP and life coach trainer. I’m also a lifelong entrepreneur. Since getting my counseling license in 1995, I have worked for myself, with the exception of five years spent in corporate America.
At one point, I was wondering the same thing: How to become a life coach and enjoy the flexible lifestyle that goes with it.
I had three kids and was working two full-time jobs at minimum wage, with no prospects other than good training. I get how challenging it can be.
I learned the answer is to do it right from the start and follow a system that works – and stick with it through thick and thin.
My first successful, cash-only coaching practice was established in New Mexico (Albuquerque and Santa Fe) in 1995.
In 2004, I moved to California where I set up another in-person coaching practice. Today, my life coaching business is 100% online, I help clients from all around the globe and haven’t had room for new clients in at least two years.
After more than two decades of working with clients, I’ve learned precisely what will bring in clients who are willing to invest in themselves. I know how to ‘package’ life coaching services that send the correct message to ideal prospects, resulting in solid inquiries and leads.
In short, I know how to become a life coach because I’ve done it several times over. I’ve made all the mistakes and spent years refining my approach in order to develop a successful life coaching system, from marketing, sales, and getting positive results with clients.
In addition, I’ve had the privilege of working with several Fortune 100 companies in the training space and have co-founded an uber-successful online training business with students in over 70 countries.
I hope this gives you confidence in my ability to help you become a life coach and more! Now, let’s dive into those ten steps that outline how to become a life coach.
How do you know you’d make a good life coach? Perhaps people often come to you for advice. Maybe you have a desire to help others get past the obstacles you have worked hard to overcome.
Perhaps you’ve decided to live a more relaxed and flexible lifestyle. And maybe you’re like many iNLP Center students who, according to our student survey, cite the number one reason for wanting to become a life coach as the desire to lead a more fulfilling life.
Whatever your reasons, beginning by assessing your abilities is a solid first step. Knowing how to become a life coach is one thing; becoming a great life coach is something else.
A simple and effective way to discover your natural potential is to take our life coaching aptitude quiz.
It’s not a guarantee, but getting a reasonable score on the quiz is a pretty good indicator that you can safely take the next step towards your goal.
The quiz is unbiased.
If you answer the simple questions honestly, the quiz will provide you with honest feedback about your aptitude and what adjustments you might need to make to become a great life coach. Taking the quiz is anonymous, and your score will not lie if you don’t.
Whatever you score, please remember that a low score doesn’t necessarily mean you wouldn’t make a good life coach. It means you will need to focus on key areas in your training. We all have those areas! That’s what life coach training is for.
If you really want to know how to become a life coach, you’ll take a look at your potential. This will show you where you need to focus as you’re learning to be a coach.
If aptitude and ability are the sail on your journey towards becoming a life coach, then having a clear and unique vision is the rudder that will guide you through the inevitable challenges and obstacles.
At iNLP Center, our students develop their unique coaching vision at the start of their program. Here are some of the areas they are asked to focus on:
The benefit of getting clear on the above before you begin your training is that you can tailor the life coach training to your unique vision from the start. Being clear on your own motivation and potential struggles allows you to work on yourself as you go through the course. This is how to become a life coach!
Armed with this seemingly long list of issues, she was able to persevere through the certification and address them in the process.
You don’t need to be perfect to be a life coach.
You are and always will be a normal, real person with your own unique challenges and struggles. And just like everyone else, you can choose to work each day to become the very best you can be. The life coach training you choose should not only teach you how to coach but help you to address your own challenges, giving you more confidence to help others.
Beyond the life coaching skill set that you’ll learn in training, there are a number of areas in which you will need to become competent. Most will require your daily attention.
Effectively advertising and promoting your coaching business is a vital, on-going task. You may be a fantastic coach, but if no one knows about you, all those wonderful coaching skills will be wasted. No marketing = no sales opportunities = no clients. We’ll get more specific about marketing in steps 9 and 10.
So you’ve promoted your coaching services and the inquiries are coming in. But you’re not finished yet. While effective marketing creates sales opportunities, selling creates paying clients.
You will need an effective system to convert inquiries into clients. Many who are drawn to life coaching are uncomfortable with the sales process, and worry that it will be too ‘car sales-y’. It should be a relief to know that a good life coaching sales process is not like that.
Your sales meeting is more of a consult than a sale. The sales process should follow a specific system that includes a set of questions which potential clients will find helpful, and which naturally motivates them to sign up for coaching where appropriate.
At iNLP Center, we call our coaching sales program the Windfall System. It takes the guesswork out of what to say and do during an initial consultation and is exceptionally effective at converting interested inquiries into coaching clients. And you’ll never feel like you have to convince or pressure anyone.
Administration is a catchall set of tasks and required skills including (but not limited to):
Much of the above can be automated or outsourced inexpensively these days, but it’s still a good idea to know how to perform most tasks yourself, especially during the early days of your practice.
The best coaches are always looking to up their game. Continuous self-improvement through additional training, reading, seminars, and workshops will be what sets you apart from other coaches.
Since coaching models and techniques are not one-size-fits-all, you want to be proficient in several. The more tools in your bag, the more client challenges you can address. Being the best you can be through on-going personal growth should be a way of life for life coaches.
Most life coaches working directly with others, usually one-on-one.
It can be overwhelming at the start of your life coaching journey to imagine coaching actual, living and breathing clients. Being able to comfortably talk, listen to and deal with the emotions of someone who is looking to you for guidance can feel intimidating, even scary.
When iNLP Center new students discover that they will be submitting a real coaching demonstration audio for review, most are nervous at the prospect. We always remind them that by the end of their training, they will have practiced enough coaching and learned so many practical coaching skills that they will become quite comfortable working with actual clients.
It also helps to remind yourself of the positive and constructive impact you can have on someone in need. It’s why you signed up for this. The thrill of knowing you’ve made a difference in someone else’s life is an experience that brings with it the most profound sense of satisfaction.
During your training, take one day at a time. Your coaching confidence will grow because we focus on that, specifically.
Wisely is the operative word.
Anyone wanting to become a life coach needs to understand how (and how not) to transition into the business, particularly regarding what to expect as far as income. Your income expectations can make or break your plans. If you don’t check them, your life coaching business may very well end before it has a chance to succeed.
Let’s take a cold, hard look at money expectations.
With any new business, it takes time to succeed and your coaching business will be no different. How much time? That depends on several factors, not the least of which is how well you master marketing and sales. Let’s look at the averages.
Please note: We will NOT be taking into consideration the outrageous claims of certain life coach marketing gurus who woo unsuspecting customers with promises like “six figures in 90-days!” Such false claims are deliberately misleading and create dangerous expectations for those looking to make a career change.
Do NOT run out of money before you succeed.
It all seems so easy when you’re just counting clams: Ok, so I will charge $150 per hour. To make six figures, I only need to work 15 hours per week, and I can still take six weeks off every year! If clients see me once a week, that’s only 15 clients. How hard can that be?
Actually, this dream scenario is not far-fetched. You can do it. I’ve done it and know plenty of coaches who are living the dream. It’s a fantastic lifestyle that I’d never trade for any career. The only problem with this scenario is that most newly trained life coaches underestimate the time it will take to get there.
Going from zero clients (and limited experience) to 15 billable hours per week, 46 weeks per year will take one to two years. This is assuming your business, marketing, and sales systems are effective.
Factoring in the time it will take for you to complete your life coach training, set up your business, and begin your marketing, I strongly suggest that you plan on an alternate way of keeping the bills paid for 2 to 3 years before you can live off of your life coaching income.
Unless your situation is already established (for instance, you already have a large following, or perhaps already have a coaching contract in place), if you don’t allow enough time in your transition plan to keep the bills paid while you build your business, the fateful day will come when you will be forced to either throw in the towel or get a second job. This can be extremely disheartening, not to mention expensive and entirely unnecessary.
Far better to practice a little realism and patience now, plan wisely and do things right the first time so that you can achieve your dream.
There are three styles of life coach training available:
As online platforms became more accessible and user-friendly, purely online training options gained in popularity due to their convenience and lower tuition cost.
One significant drawback to pure online learning is that these training programs often do not offer adequate (or any, for that matter) oversight or personalized feedback. Without a trainer personally overseeing an online student’s progress, the student can’t really know if they are learning accurately or effectively.
Pure online learning is not how to become a life coach. If you choose to get your life coach training through an unsupervised online course, you will not qualify for any life coaching credential.
In contrast, an accredited blended learning program will provide the flexibility, convenience, and affordability of purely online training, while offering the personalized supervision needed for proper learning and accreditation.
Good blended learning providers offer live training sessions in an online classroom. Blended life coach training hits that optimal middle ground.
Let’s review the pros and cons of each style of learning. Then, we’ll look at what you should look for in any life coach training program.
Blended Online Life Coach Training ($$)
Finding the best life coach training platform will depend upon how much time and money you have available to you. If you have the resources available to travel and take time off from your regular work, then attending an in-person training might be something to consider.
If you require the flexibility of studying at your own pace as you transition out of your current career, then a blended learning curriculum will likely be your best option.
In my experience, in-depth learning and proper skills integration favor the blended learning format. For this reason, the training programs we offer through iNLP are of this style.
The necessary skills are taught in smaller chunks with personalized support and live virtual training. The content is delivered on your own time and at your own pace, and you can return to lessons over and over until you’ve really mastered the material. And our extensive online peer and trainer community offers an on-going resource for practice, assistance, and encouragement.
Once you’ve decided on the general style of learning platform best suited to your particular situation, find an accredited program that matches your unique learning style.
Whatever the style of program, students serious about becoming life coaches should insist upon the following:
Based on over 25 years of personal experience running a life coaching business, training others to do the same, and setting up and establishing my own coaching practice on three separate occasions, I have put together a list of business and administrative tasks that you will need to complete while you set up your own life coaching business.
Business Set Up Tasks
Caution: You may not understand how long these types of tasks actually take.
Why not plan for the worst-case scenario from the start, and be delighted if you get the job finished early? And remember, the fancier you get with your branding and material, the more time you should expect the process to take.
As an example of just how long this all-important development stage can take for something that might seem simple, I invite you to take a look at an overview for a short online program my wife and I developed together as a complement to our full training programs – The AHA Solution.
It took two people one full calendar year to develop that program from concept to end product. This is not shared to discourage you. It’s been well worth the time and effort, as this one short program brings in a steady stream of new student enrollments and coaching clients.
You’d do well to realize clients want one thing:
Solutions to pressing problems.
They won’t be coming just to hang out with you. They need solutions that they cannot find on their own. If you become a life coach, you will be facilitating solutions to problems.
Many coaches consider themselves more than mere problem solvers. While this is true, clients (especially in the beginning) do not care. They want out of the painful situation in which they find themselves.
If you can demonstrate that you understand their pain and offer a believable solution, you will be hired. It’s that simple.
This is why many successful life coaches (and other businesses) regularly demonstrate their understanding of problems.
Here’s an article that has proven to be an effective inspiration for client inquiries. It has inspired enough inquiries to fill more than one coaching practice:
When the right person reads these kinds of articles, they see themselves in them. This is often a profound experience. They are reading an article from someone who understands what they are going through! They know you get it. This is the first step toward connecting with someone who will become your coaching client.
The second step is to present a believable solution, which brings us to step eight.
Life coaching isn’t like going to the doctor or hiring a plumber; we all know when we need to make a dentist’s appointment or call an electrician. But most people don’t know when to seek out life coaching.
Even though life coaching is exploding onto the mainstream, it’s still too new for the average person to know when or how to use it. Trying to sell ‘life coaching’ services is too vague and undefined for most people to understand, and is not enough to inspire an investment.
A critical step in your sales and marketing plan is to create custom coaching packages that offer solutions to the specific problems your ideal clients are struggling with. By clearly outlining which problems you help clients solve, showing them exactly what they will be buying, you sell ‘solutions’ rather than ‘life coaching’.
At the iNLP Center, we help our students to identify the main problem they want to solve with their clients, and to then create tailored coaching programs to address those needs. In this way, you let prospective clients know when they should call you and why. Your conversion of prospects into clients will skyrocket with this simple but crucial step.
There are numerous and creative ways to market your new life coaching business. You can start with free options such as social media postings, local area business listings, and word of mouth. Or perhaps you have a modest budget and can afford some online ads, or a spot in the local paper. But whatever your budget, you must market your business.
Deciding on the specific advertising method you use will depend a lot on your budget, but also on your target niche. There’s not much point in using Instagram if the age of your niche clients is 50+, since most Instagram users are under 30 years of age.
Similarly, posting an ad in the local community newspaper will likely not be effective if your target market is Millennials, as this age group gets their news almost exclusively from online sources and social media. It pays to do your research to determine which marketing vehicle will be most effective for your target clients.
Here are some advertising and marketing options in more detail:
Having an active social media presence is an effective and low-cost way to promote your services. You can create free accounts on Facebook, Linked-In, Instagram, Pinterest, and many other social media platforms.
There are many free resources you can find in a Google search for learning the best marketing practices for each social media platform, and you can also research the specific demographics for each, which allows you to target the ones that best match your niche.
Be aware that social media sites do require on-going maintenance in the form of regular postings and building a base of friends or connections; posting can take quite a bit of time, but the reach can be significant.
Your best approach is to choose one or two of the most fitting platforms, and then be consistent in your message and your schedule of posting. There are some great free apps available that will help you manage postings to multiple social media platforms, which should make this option more appealing and less time-consuming.
Joining professional organizations such as the local chapter of BNI (Business Network International), your local area Chamber of Commerce, or your town or city’s BIA (Business Improvement Association) can be a good choice if you would like to build a local coaching business.
These organizations often charge an upfront membership fee, and sometimes additional fees to attend meetings, but also usually offer a few discounts and perks exclusively to their members.
Attending these types of meetings provides you with a great opportunity to meet a variety of people you may not generally come in contact with, and to practice delivering your message. Additionally, working alone can get lonely, and these groups provide good socializing opportunities.
Tip: make sure to have business cards with you if you choose this option. You will need them!
If you don’t have the time for or inclination towards posting to social media or attending weekly events, you could choose the more expensive option of paid advertising.
For print advertising, you’ll need to consider that, just as for social media platforms, individual newspapers, journals, and magazines cater to a specific demographic. You’ll need to do your research and ask the right questions to ensure the demographic applies to your niche in order to get the best value for your advertising dollar.
You must also be consistent to get a good response, which means advertising over and over to the same group of people. Choose a package that fits your budget over the longer term.
Online advertising is another option. This is often referred to as ‘pay-per-click’ advertising. Search engines such as Google and Bing feature this option, which can be useful if your website itself is not showing up on the first three pages of an online search. However, it can get very expensive if you want to get results.
As an example, the search term ‘life coach’ can cost you as much as $4USD per click. That means if someone enters the search term ‘life coach’, sees your ad and clicks on it, you will be charged $4. Be aware, as this method can add up quickly.
You can also advertise on social media platforms such as Facebook through something called ‘pay per impression’. This is a similar structure to print advertising in that you pay for your ad appearing on a page whether someone clicks on it or not. The fees are much lower than ‘pay-per-click’ advertising, but it can still add up.
The advantage with this type of online ad is that you can target the exact demographic you are interested in, which will make a big difference in how effective your ad campaign will be.
The iNLP Center regularly consults (for free) with students to determine the best marketing strategies. If done right, they work!
Let’s say you’ve got your custom coaching packages set, have a clear message for your niche market, and are seeing a fairly steady stream of clients as a result of your marketing efforts.
Perhaps you are feeling confident about expanding your comfort zone into the global online world. If that’s the case, it’s time to consider ways to scale up your life coaching practice and get more serious about your online presence.
Writing content for online publications and can be a great way to drum up traffic to your website and increase your worldwide reach.
If you like to write and are good at it, other sites (not competitors, but in a related or supporting field) may agree to post your article on their site and provide a link back to your web page.
Getting links from other websites forms an integral part of what’s known as SEO or Search Engine Optimization. SEO includes a series of actions you can take that optimizes your website so that it shows up earlier and more often in online searches.
There are excellent free resources and articles available online that will walk you step-by-step through the basics of preparing and optimizing your website. Alternatively, there are businesses that specialize in SEO if you lack the technical know-how but have the budget.
Most online and print business directories are useless, but I spent a year researching and using such directories, and there are three specific to life coaching that should be considered essential in your first year of business. I won’t mention them here, but if you want to know, just ask.
Fine-tuning your online newsletter and building your mailing list is critical. It takes time to get there, but creating an engaging newsletter and using the tips and tricks above to expand your mailing list is a must. You want to get to a point where you can simply put out the word to your email list and receive several inquiries for new clients in response.
Learning how to become a life coach involves more than getting coaching skills. It involves a range of other business and practical skills and requires you to learn and follow a business model that other successful coaches are using.
I hope you feel confident that I have been candid about how to become a life coach and what is required to succeed. You need a realistic (and optimistic) view of what lies ahead for you should you choose to pursue your dream.
It may seem like a lot of work, perhaps more than you were anticipating but it does require time and patience to see results. It’s all about taking one step at a time and finding the right training program to support you.
Unfortunately, you’ll find that most life coach certification institutes won’t teach you how to become a life coach, which includes getting practical coaching skills and running a life coaching business. And most life coach training centers don’t support your learning after your course is complete.
At iNLP Center, we do all of the above. How to become a life coach? Join us. We’ll be with you every step of the way.