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This episode is about the minimum online tools you’ll need to effectively run your coaching business. It’s part of my Smart Mindsets & Habits series. I think systems fit well into that topic.
I’m going to share my 3 all time favorite online tools. The kind of apps that save brain cells, time and money.
We’ll also talk about pitfalls new coaches fall into when they grab up lots of tools with monthly costs.
If you’re totally tech savvy, this might be remedial for you.
But most coaches I meet are a little tech shy. They don’t love learning how to use online tools. They just want to coach so every additional thing they need to use to find, attract and enroll their clients feels heavy.
I’ve heard many a sigh and fear in the voices of my clients who worry about how tech will impact their time.
If that’s you, I get it. When I started as a coach I was a total luddite — the last to know anything tech related. Now, on the tech savvy scale I’m somewhere in the middle. I know how to use a few things extremely well and most things at a small percentage of their abilities and that’s okay.
This may be a relief to you … you don’t have to be a techno geek to leverage a few choice tools well and have them help you attract and enroll clients.
I like tools that have depth and that I can wade slowly into. I want to learn what I need to know now, then learn more later once I’ve mastered the basics.
So let’s get this rolling …
First, I’ll cover a set of applications that all coaches need to run a smart business.
1. An Email Marketing Service
3. An Online Scheduler
Let’s talk about each of these and I’ll share my favorite tools for each.
Email Marketing Service
Sometimes called an Email Blast Company or Email Campaign Company, this service is all about getting your messages out to people who have trusted you by opting in on your website for a free offer. It’s also called a leads list but what I like to call your community.
This type of service helps you:
- manage email addresses of people who have opted in for your free offer
- get your emails delivered in a way that meets regulations
- automates everything so you save time
- build trusting relationships with followers
No doubt you’ve heard of Mail Chimp and Constant Contact, there are dozens more that get more and more technical and costly up the scale.
For a startup coach I suggest a relatively inexpensive and easy to use service. my hands down favorite is Aweber (affiliate link).
It’s been around a lot longer than most Email Marketing Services. Here’s why I LOVE them:
- Customer Service
- Customer Service
- Customer Service
I’m the kind of person who wants a person I can talk to in real time if I need help. Most tech companies don’t share their phone number or at best only have an online chat. If they do let you speak with someone you reach an overseas call center. And your problem takes 3x longer to fix than it should.
Whenever you call Aweber you get to a highly trained person within a minute or two who will help you or find someone to help you in one phone call.
They’ll patiently teach you how to use their systems so it’s easy peasy. And no one says anything like: “I understand your needs, Miss Rhonda.”
The other reasons I like Aweber is:
- They are highly respected by ISPs (Internet Service Providers) so emails from them get priority delivery.
- They constantly improve their systems in a user friendly way. There’s never that feeling of disconnect between the way their online tool works and the way you think it should work.
- Aweber is comparable in price to Constant Contact.
- And, Aweber integrates extremely well with WordPress, which is my favorite for tool #2 …
A Professional Website
There are loads of debates in Facebook groups about which is best web platform … the venerable WordPress, or newer on the block Wix and Squarespace?
I always advise WordPress over the others for 3 main reasons:
- It’s self hosted. Which means you own your website.
- It has unlimited customization capabilities.
- It gives you access to more 3rd party plugins.
Bottom line … if your intent is to succeed in your business and be in it for the long run, WordPress beats the other platforms hands down because it can grow as your business grows.
WordPress templates can easily morph into a home for your blog or podcast, a membership site, an online store. You can add sales page builders, survey or forms builders, advanced analytics, SEO builders, Live Chat, and that’s just the tip of the iceberg for WordPress plugins.
By the way, I recommend A2 Hosting (affiliate link) to host your website. I used with Bluehost, which is far more recognizable but they were bought by a big conglomerate and try to sell you stuff you really don’t need. A2 is pretty much set and forget it.
In another episode I’m going to talk about 3 Agonizing Mistakes Coaches Make with Their Website. For now, let me just say, don’t go cheap with your website. This is the place to invest in your success. And hold off on creating a website until you are crystal clear about who is your target audience and what specific problem your help them solve with your coaching niche.
Any site you create without that as the centerpiece will be a waste of time and money.
3. An Online Scheduler
There are places to spend the big bucks (your website) and places not to. When you can find a tool that does an excellent job serving your needs and keeps your overhead low, that’s a place to save.
I came across TimeTrade a decade ago and I continuously sing it’s praises. Why do I love it so?
- Customer Service – They are well set up to solve challenges with local, positive and knowledgeable support.
- Price – Compare Time Trade for $6.50/mo or $78/yr with Acuity, which is $15/mo or $180/yr.
Sure Fire Ways to Reduce the Profits of Your Coaching Business
Monthlies can add up and steal your profits. I know coaches who have 10 – 15 tools they’ve purchased that they don’t really need and that stack up their overhead horrendously.
Yes, there are so many wonderful tasty apps out there and it’s easy to go crazy on them at first. But most people don’t have time or inclination to fully leverage those tools.
My goal for the financial aspect of my business is high profit and easy cash flow. Believe me, I’ve had a high tech, low profit coaching business before. It’s a lot more work and no more joy.
It’s also tempting to purchase systems you may use someday. Consider another approach, only invest in what will help you succeed.
Free Apps that Pack Value
Dropbox (affiliate link) is wonderful if you have an assistant, web designer, colleague or others you want to share files with. Google Drive is good for that as well.
Another free tool is Zoom. That’s my choice for a free online video or audio calls that you can record. I have a lot of international clients. And this tool is a great solution for sessions. I sometimes use Messenger for those calls if a recording isn’t needed.
The last thing I want to say is I’m not in favor of those supposed all-in-one solutions that are marketed to coaches. I won’t name names but it’s those services that say they’ll give you a website and an online portal for your clients. They’ll host the site for you and provide other client management tools.
I have never seen one that provides a client-winning website. More often those services are very expensive and simply not worthwhile on any level.
It’s very easy to do client management in low tech ways using email. I’ll talk about that in the next episode and plan to have a couple giveaway documents that you can use to organize and manage your clients with simplicity and efficiency.