Two years ago, I was sitting behind my laptop working for Uber as a program manager. Today I make what I made in a month of corporate 9-to-5 hustle by offering things I love to share on the internet.
As one of the many coaches in a booming $2 billion industry, I make all of my income selling services online and I spent a remarkable amount of my money on services from other people in my network to reinvest in myself or my business.
It’s an exciting time to be an online entrepreneur and personal brand. It’s an opportunity to effectively exchange things you’re passionate or knowledgable about for things you’re not passionate or knowledgable about. It’s a model that can let more of the heart and full essence of a person be seen in their career and be better off financially than they were in a rigid paycheck model working for someone else.
However, I live in Bali and as one of the digital nomad and coach hubs of the world, I also see a lot of struggle.
A lot of people who left the so-called “rat race” with good intentions and have found themselves in a new sort of rat race, chasing $10K months and slumped over behind their laptops trying to fish clients out of the waters of Instagram.
I also see a lot of coaches sipping cold lattes in expat cafes because they can’t afford anything else, struggling to make it doing what they dream about doing. The fear of having to go home and go back to the office haunts them, and trust me, I’ve been there.
A year ago I curled up in the fetal position in an ashram in Ubud, sobbing at the irony of being in such a beautiful place, “living the dream” on social media, but being absolutely terrified at not being able to make it work long-term. Of having to go home and go back to the matrix. To have to work for someone else when I knew I had it in me to make a living inspiring and uplifting others with what I’d learned in my nearly 10 year journey of corporate expertise and deep spiritual healing.
I wasn’t giving up. I hired a mentor, I recommitted to my dream to be an expert thought leader and mentor, and I succeeded. Within 6 months I went from not being able to afford cat food to seeing the first $10,000, $15,000 and more come into my business. I made more in a day than I made in a month in my old life.
And it wasn’t about the money. Money is just numbers on a screen that buy you something: a feeling or a vision of your life. Money to me equals time to invest in letting more of my soul explore her spiritual journey in this lifetime. More freedom to write books. To think. To slow down. To give back.
Now I mentor other men or women who are on the path of leaving the 9 to 5 and creating heart-centered businesses that turn over real profit and are contributing to the world. Here are the 5 biggest things I can tell you to help you make it in this industry when you feel called to serve.
- Get it in for the long-haul. Focus on results instead of numbers.
Too many coaches out there are playing the short-term game: trying to get a certain number of followers on social media or dreaming of “$10K months” simply because that’s something they hear thrown around on Facebook ads from other coaches. Create your own targets and know what they mean to you.
I had someone ask me today: “How do you have such a full client roster? How many followers do you have?”
It simply doesn’t matter. What matters is: are the people you want to serve hearing you? Are you saying something that helps them? And for those who have already opted in to work with you, even if it’s just a friend of a friend and you’re doing it for free, are you providing an outstanding experience and transformation?
It’s expensive and time-intensive to always acquire new clients. It’s smart to keep the ones you have and become a referral-based business that reputably delivers excellence results.
2. Have a clear vision for your brand.
Many coaches have never considered what their 10 or 20-year vision looks like. What is the message they want to bring to the world by transforming the lives of individuals?
Ask: How does what you do connect to the big picture? Does what you do ultimately reduce disease or violence, improve the environment, or increase empathy and compassion in communities?
3. Are you going to become a coach or marketer?
Many coaches could easily be confused with professional marketers instead. And for good reason — it can take time to fill a practice and earn enough income to leave an alternative profession. I’ve been there, too. At one point I felt like a sales and marketing professional working 40 hours a week on social media instead of doing what I wanted to be doing: writing articles, being a thought leader, leading events, coaching and making change in society. I also felt a bit slimy.
Make sure you don’t fall into that trap.
Yes, you need to be visible and share a valuable message and let people know you’re a resource for support in their lives, but don’t accidentally trade slaving away for one corporate to slaving away for yourself and losing sight of who you’re serving.
Hire professional help in this area early on — it’ll make a big difference in how visible (and sane) you can be.
4. Come up with a structure and program framework that predictably gets results for your clients.
One of the best things you can do is make a concrete program framework that will take people step-by-step from one place in their lives/health/business to another. Create it first based on your expertise or personal experience and offer it at a lower rate. Once you prove it and get greater testimonials, you can increase your charges.
Don’t sell yourself as simply an expensive sounding board who will enter a session and say, “Okay, client, what’s been up for you lately?” You’re the guide. Have a plan and be the expert support they need.
And don’t price based on how much you want to earn, price based on the length of program you need to create to actually generate a transformation for your clients.
5. Remember, you’ll have fans and you’ll have clients.
Not everyone who likes your post needs to become a high-ticket client. Embrace having a community and audience. Have fans as well as customers! This will be a huge relief for you and your audience. (Remember: you’re in it for the long-haul. 10 year vision. Results vs. numbers.)
6. Don’t hyper-niche because you need to feel special.
I did this for years, the line on my Instagram bio being something like “Transformational Coach/Spiritual Healing Soul Guide/Holistic Supersonic Nutritional Gut Expert for Capricorns.”
Because I thought I had to niche or else someone wouldn’t buy from me if I wasn’t unique enough!
That’s just not true. My business changed the day I stopped fiddling on my “about me” page on my website and realized it wasn’t about me.
“Screw it, I’m basically a generic life coach and business mentor,” I said, having a breakthrough. People need life coaches the same way they need an accountant. My accountant doesn’t try to sell me some hyper-niched version of his approach to taxes, I just go with someone I know, trust, and like.
I just needed to get in the game and focus on bringing those solutions to people in my network who needed the support I provided without all the confusing self-focused and misguided branding attempts.
Finally, people understood what I did and hired me.
7. Don’t go it alone.
Business IS hard when you do it alone. So don’t.
Some coaches are running themselves into the ground or self-isolating because of perceived competition or a lack of knowledge around how to collaborate. (If you read this and want to collaborate with me, let’s do it! That is 10x more value to me than another client.)
And hire help! Hire a business mentor, get an assistant, a web developer, a social media manager. Focus on backing yourself so you can show up with energy to do the real work: serving your people and changing lives by using your expertise, life experience, and heart-centered passion.
I spent more than $30,000 on my business in the first year alone and it helped me, someone who’s been financially independent since she was 17, lean into support and skillfully up-level.
In summary: To succeed as a coach in today’s saturated market, be excellent at what you do. Have a strong message and vision. Have an offer that’s in your full integrity and solves real problems for real people. Lead with the heart. And knock it out of the park with every single client so you can be around for a long-time to come.