Ep 59 – How To Develop Your Signature Coaching Program

This episode is part of my Money Mastery series. The series has been getting great response from listeners.

About episode 58 —planning for profit in your coaching business — Roger said he had several takeaways:

  • Having a real understanding of the stages of business.
  • The idea to set an expense budget.
  • “The big one is that I realize I was relying on my part time paid employment to support my coaching business as more of a hobby. So I have a shift now into thinking of it as more of a business and your great tip of taking a salary from my coaching business to pay bills will be fantastic.”

Thanks for sharing that, Roger!

Today’s episode is about a better way to package a coaching program and earn more than by the session or group of sessions.

First, let’s talk about schools of thought. There are schools of thought about everything.

If you’re still in coach training some trainers may insist that coaching should not be programmed. In other words, you shouldn’t create an offer other than coaching sessions because it means that you take away the coach’s agenda.

If you’ve been listening to me for a while you know I believe that you can both serve a client’s agenda AND offer a specific program for a specific audience that solves their biggest problem and gets them where they want to go.

After 22 years of experience in my own coaching business and helping hundreds of coaches reach financial success in their businesses in my private VIP program, I know that selling coaching by the session only may keep you at poverty income levels.

So what is a better way that helps you earn well as a coach? I’ve been leading to this in the previous episodes so I hope you’ll listen to those too.

Create a Customized VIP Program

This is what I help all my clients create.

It helps the coach feel confident they have something of value to offer. They learn to articulate what they do in meaningful terms and without the agony of trying to convince people to buy coaching.

Of course, like all successful aspects of a coaching business, creating this program has critical steps that go before.

  1. It begins by targeting a viable audience – one that’s full of seekers – people who do invest in their professional and personal growth.
  2. Next you uncover their biggest known problems and the ultimate outcome they want to achieve. That becomes your coaching niche.
  3. Then, you put together a signature program tailor made to that audience. Your program has a clear set of milestones that you’ll help your clients achieve on the way to that ultimate desired outcome.
  4. Then, you learn how to articulate that to prospects in a way that’s benefit rich, supplying them with assurance of both tangible or concrete and intangible or emotional things they’d like to achieve with your help. That there is a structure in your program helps them to trust you and feel inspired to invest.
  5. Lastly, you need a strategy to attract clients, build trust and rapport, then gently send them through a conversion process, sometimes called a funnel, so they are motivated to have a Discovery Session with you, where you’ll enroll them.

Getting all of this done isn’t easy by yourself.

It helps to have a guide like me help you with all the steps no matter how big or small.

Examples of VIP Coaching Programs

For example, let’s say you’re a relationship coach helping people to find their soul mate. Your program might include the following milestones – takeaways you’ll help your clients achieve:

  • Identifying personal values and partnership values. What are their must haves and deal breakers in their life partnership?
  • Getting ready for a partner. What are their strengths but also habits and behaviors in need of adjustment? What are their limiting beliefs about relationships? You might even have something like a life makeover in your program.
  • Setting first date goals. Helping them set personal boundaries and show up with confidence.
  • Discovering the best places to meet people and connect.

There’s a clear arc to the program and plenty of opportunity for the client to bring the agenda to sessions. This structure is more about helping prospects feel confident to work with you.

Or, let’s say you’re a leadership coach and target HR leaders to gain greater impact in their role – something you’ve discovered from market research that’s a top goal of HR leaders. Your program’s milestones might include:

  1. Creating a vision for the impact they wish to make.
  2. Identifying what’s been in the way.
  3. Uncovering their professional strengths and learning how to leverage them.
  4. Identifying skills and behaviors that need attention and areas to stretch.
  5. Develop good habits to strengthen their resilience, mindset and competencies.
  6. Building their rapport, identifying sponsors and other relationships that would help their star rise.
  7. Helping them develop a thicker skin and become bolder in meetings.

You can see that the focus in these descriptions is not about you and your skills as the coach. It’s about the target audience and what they want. But at the same time these kinds of milestones are what all coaches can help their clients achieve.

Either of these programs could be a 4 – 6 months or longer.

Bundle Significant Value Into The Program

So far in your coaching business you might be simply trying to convince a client to hook on … to want coaching and be willing to invest in a certain number of sessions up front.

It’s painful. And it’s without context especially if you haven’t narrowed to a viable audience, done market research and discovered what your audience wants so much they’d be willing to invest in your help to get it.

Programming your coaching into a VIP program creates a context for why a person would want to invest at a high level in their future success. And, you can develop this program without even using the word “coaching”. That’s your toolbox not an outcome they know they want.

Identify What They’ll Get In Your Coaching Program

The next step for creating your program is to identify the features. What do they get when they invest in the program? Consider bundling some of these things into your program:

  • A certain number of private sessions, say 10 – 18 sessions depending on length of your program, your preferences, and what it takes to achieve the goals
  • A certain number of group sessions or access to a closed Facebook group for community support
  • Annual retreats
  • Half or full VIP day where they fly out to work with you face to face on some aspect
  • Unlimited emails to you
  • Session recaps
  • Pre-created guides, forms or assessments to ease a process.

These things still involve coaching and coaching skills. But they add excitement to a program and help justify the fees to enroll.

In the Next Episode: How to Price Your Signature Coaching Program

Ep 58 – Start Planning For Profit In Your Coaching Business

This episode is part of my Money Mastery series.

I’m about to suggest a new mindset and practice that will help you take a big leap in the amount of money you earn from your coaching business — even if you’re a brand new coach.

It’s all about taking yourself seriously as a business owner and graduating from that hobby-like coaching business to what’s called a going concern – a sustainable business that reliably provides for you and your family.

There are two parts to this episode. In the first I’ll explain the 3 phases of coaching business development. You’ll see why soon. 

The second part is about planning. Are you wincing at that? Planning to earn could actually mean that you do earn and earn well.

I’m purposefully keeping this part very basic so if you’ve been a CFO in a corporation or a CPA or this is your 2nd entrepreneurial experience, you may not need this episode.

But if you’re a new coach longing to earn well in your first business then what I’m sharing may shift something inside you that needs shifting.

So first …

3 Phases of Coaching Business Development

The Startup Phase

This is what I help new coaches to do right from the get go. In the phase you create your business foundation:

I’m taking a stab at a metaphor to hopefully will help you understand the importance of each of these phases. let’s pretend your desire to have a coaching business is an apple tree seed. For good measure, you put several of these vision seeds into healthy soil, give them water, warmth and light. Soon, little sprouts come up.

You leave the strongest seedlings to grow and sacrifice the rest. That’s when you nail down your niche and audience. The goal is to have one little tree to focus you love and attention.

The Establish Phase

This is where your business begins to feel real. You will:

  • Consistently put out good content targeted to your audience
  • Develop your reputation
  • Build your leads list and followers on social media
  • Master enrolling clients
  • Earn enough to quit your job
  • Grow your website SEO
  • Find spheres of influence or colleagues who can help your star rise
  • Establish the ideal rhythm and flow of your business
  • ·Fine tune your business to maximize profits and work smarter

Back to the metaphor … your little tree has set down strong roots and delivers its first harvest.

The Maintain or Scale Phase

You’ve made it!

  • You’ve found your sweet spot. Now maintain it. Enjoy it.
  • Or, if you’re hungry to do more, expand into new programs, products or markets. 

This is where your apple tree becomes a reliable producer. It not only feeds your family, but also can grow into a whole orchard if you want.

So why did I tell you about these phases?

Partly so you know that reaching that desired place of the sweet spot requires successful completion of the stages before it. 

If you’re listening to this podcast you’re likely in that Start Up phase. You may have just finished coach training and are beginning to develop your business model. You may have done bits of that and think you should be earning well.

The Start Up phase is the most important phase. Because, without a solid foundation, nothing will grow. 

Coaches often ask me how long it will take before they are established and earning well as a coach. And I say it depends on you. How quickly you can successfully start up and take your business seriously.

Why the Market Isn’t Saturated with Coaches

Every month there’s a continuous flood of new coaches graduating from coach training and beginning the Start Up Phase.

Many coaches never complete that phase either because they intentionally move on to something else or their business doesn’t take root. Strong roots are the critical part for sustained growth. 

And that’s why the field of coaching isn’t saturated with sustainable coaching businesses and may never be.

It may seem shocking or sad to say this, but this is a natural thing. Lots of people stream into entrepreneurial businesses of all types but don’t stay in them. The need to graduate from one phase of business to another is what levels the playing field.

Entering into an entrepreneurial business is a hero’s journey no matter what the outcome. There’s value to the journey even if it ends by getting off the path and onto another.

The reality is that everyone hits some roadblocks in each phase of business development that could lead to closing up shop.

The trick is not to give up on yourself or your business. Listen to episode 49 if you haven’t already – The Only Good Reason to Give Up On Your Coaching Business

It’s about developing the patience and other skills to allow your coaching business to blossom.

So now, with the phases as background, let’s move onto the second part of this episode, which is Revenue and Profit planning 101 …

If you have your foundation set, help yourself move from Start Up Phase into Establish Phase by: 

1.     Creating an expense budget. Adjust it as needed to improve profits.

2.     Setting revenue and profit goals quarterly.

3.     Tracking and reviewing your business financials monthly or quarterly.

4.     Making improvements and set better goals every year.

Now, I can hear you groaning. Maybe you’d rather do cold calls than set financial goals and track them.

But I’ll tell you, there’s solid proof that stepping into the CFO role of your business dramatically increases how much money you’re able to provide for your family from your coaching business.

If you set revenue goals, you’ll earn more than if you do not set goals.

If you set profit goals, you’ll have more money earn year for the things you care about.

I remember setting my first money goals in my coaching business. When I didn’t reach them I got bogged down in shame and a sense of failure. But then I learned the trick to financial goals. Hold them lightly as potential milestones but take them seriously in terms of action to earn.

Think Profit Not Just Revenue

A quick distinction between revenue and profits … 

Revenue is the money you’re paid for your services and products. (So if you have 10 clients and they each pay you $10,000 for a yearlong program, that’s $100,000 in revenue.)

Profit is the money you keep after business expenses, costs and taxes are subtracted from revenue. (So if you pay 20% in taxes and spend $2000 to attract each of those 10 clients that leaves you with $60,000 in profit. That’s not a bad profit but perhaps you could do better.)

So, if you want to end your year with $100,000 profit, aim to make $140,000 in revenues at least. Then do the things day-to-day, week-to-week, month-to-month to make that happen.

The Beauty of Hustle

Have you set revenue and profit goals for your business? If you haven’t, you’re in good company.

Here’s the truth of it … Most new coaches simply wake up every day and do what they feel like doing in their business instead of what will really help them shift to The Establish Phase. They hope it will result in enough clients and income each year.

That mindset and habit is for a hobby business but not a going concern – a business that provides well for you and your family.

To step fully into the business owner role and earn more, plan your revenue and profits. Then plan exactly how you’ll earn and work your plan.

That’s called hustle.

What would motivate you to generate that kind of hustle where you’re serious about earning?

If you already have a job or if your income from your coaching business isn’t really needed to pay the bills, it’s harder to summon the hustle to really make things happen and get to that Establish Phase and then the Maintain or Scale Phase.

How will you generate enough hustle to earn well as a coach?

To start, create a need for the money you’ll earn then pay yourself a salary out of your earnings to cover that need.

For example, commit to yourself that you’ll pay your mortgage or rent each month from your coaching business income. Move the money from your business checking to your personal checking and call that a salary.

Over time, add in more bills or perhaps X number of dollars to go into a college or vacation fund each month.

Be sure it’s a monthly amount that you have to make. That will help you get into a rhythm.

You’ll need to keep enough money in your business account to cover your expenses. And this will help you see the real financial value of your business.

You may realize that you’ve got too many monthly expenses, too many apps and services you’re paying for that are reducing your profit.

It’s good to realize that sometimes when other coaches or business owners brag about their revenue that the money spent (or expenses) to reach those revenues is a high proportion of the money they’ve made. In other words, their revenues may be high but so are expenses. That means profits are low.

You’ve heard me praise the value of a simple business model for coaches. Listen to episode 5 if you haven’t heard it yet. 

Sometimes, it’s better to keep a low overhead and simpler business model than to buy into that idea of passive revenue or scaling up, which can result in low profits and a massive amount of work.

I’ve shared my personal story about this. I scaled up my business in 2006 and earned multiple six figures over the next few year but profits were low because of all the apps and assistance I needed in order to sell my online training programs, group and retreat programs.

If I did those things now, I’d be wiser about the way I did it, no doubt.

Still, not everyone needs an empire to have an enjoyable coaching business that earns well. And no matter what it’s best to start with a simple model and then grow into those more complex and involved ways of earning later.

In the Next Episode: How to Develop Your Signature Coaching Program

Ep 57 – Coach, Is It Time To Give Yourself a Raise?

This episode is the 5th in the series called Money Mastery. 

The last episode called Are You Turning Away Coaching Clients with Your Pricing explained a more strategic approach to pricing than charging by the session or a package of sessions. I highly recommend that you listen to that.

In this episode, I’ll focus in on the mindset and simple mechanics of how to give yourself a raise, no matter what approach you’re using to charge right now.

Shift Your Money Mindset

If you’re a new coach chances are you’re not thrilled with your income yet. And there may be conflicting ideas in your head about taking money for coaching.

First there’s the idea “Well, I’m a new coach so I shouldn’t charge much.”

But totally at odds with that is the desire “I want to be financially successful at this.”

And then, there’s this other idea that can come with the helping professions “Money isn’t that important to me.”

It’s like mental whiplash.

So first … compassion. I feel ya, because as a new coach I was thinking those same things. One of the coaches in my Facebook group — Prosperous Coach Club —said it so clearly:

“As someone new to the field you desire to earn a good wage but setting fees is like the taboo topic. It is uncomfortable. You feel your skill set and knowledge is worth it but fear your lack of experience being newly in the field doesn’t warrant it.”

Exactly. Thank you for that Jenny.

Most new coaches charge fees that will keep them earning below the poverty level. The strange thing is that if you applied for a job you’d never say ‘yes’ to the rates you’re paying yourself!

You deserve to earn more. Period. And deciding to own your worth is all you need to do. 

Rather than thinking that you should charge as a newbie, own your life and work experience. Charge to sustain yourself.

Be a good boss and pay yourself well. Everyone wins. You, your family, your clients – everyone!

Let’s take a more pragmatic and dispassionate look at this.

Do the Math

Think from the get go like a business owner and do the math.

What I mean by doing the math is to actually figure out what you want to earn and then play with the number of clients and fees per client you’ll need to earn that much.

Now to demonstrate this I’m going to keep things simple. In the last episode I suggested there’s a much better way to price than by the session or a package of sessions.  And I stand by that. But to make doing the math easier to understand I’m going to talk about pricing by the single session.

Let’s say you want to earn $100,000 annually and you’re charging $100 per one-hour session. 

To earn $100K, you’ll need to have 1000 paid client hours each year.

Let’s take this a step further and divide 1000 paid client hours by 50 weeks. That’s assuming you’ll take 2 weeks off each year and work the other 50. 1000 divided by 50 = 20. 

You’ll need 20 active clients paying $100 for their weekly session.

Does have 20 paying clients each week sound doable?

When I first started as a coach, I would have said ‘yes’. I had the illusion that enrolling coaching clients would be easy. Every one wants a coach, right?

But 20 years in I now know that it takes a lot of marketing and enrolling to have 20 clients. And serving 20 clients per week is a big client load! 

The largest number of 1:1 clients I’ve worked with is 15 and I found that to be far too many clients for me. I’m more comfortable with 10 one-to-one clients at time.

Consider how much work it would be to find, enroll and maintain 20 active clients every week.

Sure, you might leap to the idea of doing group coaching or having an online membership program, and you could do that eventually. 

The reality is filling those groups and building that membership program is a big endeavor fraught with challenges. It’s something that fits better later on once you have a leads list and know better what you’re doing.

As a new coach, to keep your overhead and labor low consider offering only 1:1 coaching for a while. Build up your leads list and your reputation. Later, you can try group programs.

I talk about this in my episode called The Simplest Coaching Business Model.

Now let’s give you a raise to make it easier to earn 6 figures.

Let’s say that you decide to increase your fees to $500 per session but still aim for $100,000 annually. You deserve that raise. Make your life easier.

At that rate you only need 200 paid client hours per year. Divide that by 50 weeks. 

You need only 4 one-to-one paying clients each week. 

Now, that’s more enjoyable and sustainable than 20 each week.

Decide To Raise Your Coaching Fees

But you might be thinking, well, Rhonda, how can I charge $500 for one session? Who would pay for that?

You’d be surprised. I’ve seen a lot of coaches charge much more than that.

But know this … they have put a lot of strategy behind their pricing. It starts with:

These are all the things I teach new coaches how to do.

It’s not just about throwing up a website selling life coaching or some other type of coaching and enrolling people by the session.

This doing the math exercise was simply to illustrate how to think about paid client hours and how as you price higher you make earning well a more realistic scenario.

I suggest that you do not charge by the session at all. If you haven’t heard my last episode, go back and listen to understand this. It’s at prosperouscoach.com/56

In any case, you can’t begin to earn well until you charge more.

Decide to give yourself a raise.

Two years into full time coaching, I distinctly remember feeling so frustrated with my income. I couldn’t figure out how to break through the blocks I had about it.

And then I had a mental break through. How did I do that?

One day I simply decided to raise my fees. In fact, I challenged myself to raise my fees by 25% with each new client I enrolled.

And that’s what I challenge you to do now. With each new client you enroll, increase your fees by 25% or more. You’ll be amazed how you take a leap in the way you position yourself and own your value.

My preferred method for raising fees is simply to charge higher fees for new clients. 

You can also raise fees across the board with existing clients by giving them notice. Tell them that as of a specific date your fees go up to a new amount.

Increasing Your Fees Helps Your Coaching Clients Too

Sometimes we don’t consider the effect that low fees have on our prospects and clients.

As I increased my fees, my client took bigger leaps.

They were more invested both financially and emotionally in the work so they showed up more fully, put more into their actions. And because of that, they were more ideal clients for me so I enjoyed the work more.

  • As I increased my fees my confidence grew.
  • As I increased my fees I was able to be more choosey about clients and opportunities.
  • As I increased my fees I developed better marketing, enrolling and coaching skills.
  • As I increased my fees I relaxed.

And relaxing had a profound effect on every aspect of my life, especially my ability to enroll clients. I had fewer ‘no thank you’s’.

My conclusion? If you really want to do the meaningful work possible with coaching and get paid well, charge higher fees

Now everyone has their glass ceiling. I’ve hit a new one over the years and had to work with my mindset to get through it.

There came a time for me where earning more was no longer my goal. Serving more people and living my life the way I want to are the reasons I charge the way I do.

Here is my recommendation for you:

  • Don’t be about money, be about value and sustainability.
  • But, do be a smart business owner.
  • Set revenue goals.
  • Do the math to plan how you’ll achieve those. 
  • Take smart actions.
  • Keep making incremental improvements in your mindset and habits.

In the Next Episode: Start Planning for Profit In Your Coaching Business

Ep 56 – Are You Turning Away Coaching Clients with Your Pricing?

This episode is the 3rd in my Money Mastery series.

You’ll learn a powerful shift in the approach to your coaching business that will dramatically boost your earning power.

Are You Charging Fees for Coaching Sessions?

Raise your hand if you’ve ever priced your coaching by the session or by the hour.

You’re not alone in that. It’s the typical pricing strategy for new coaches. I raised my hand too.

I used to charge by the month for a certain amount of sessions. Now, that’s slightly more strategic than charging by the hour, but as pricing strategies go, it’s on the low side of effective.

Today, the only time that I charge by the session is for my Strategy Session. You’ve heard me mention this from time to time. It’s a one-off 90-minute session where you can get my expertise to help you choose a smart target audience and coaching niche.

Those are small but crucial steps for your success. Once you have your audience and niche figured out it’s like being let out of mental prison after a long stay. Sunshine. Fresh air. Freedom.

Consider giving yourself a special Christmas present that will be a turning point for you in your coaching business. Grab a Strategy Session with me.

There are two weeks left this year to invest in a Strategy Session before the price goes up in 2020.

Jil Hunsberger wrote this beautiful testimonial for her session:

I am so thankful I invested in a Strategy Session with Rhonda. I was at a standstill trying to define a viable target market and had spent way too much time and money trying to figure it out on my own with nothing to show for it. In one amazing session with Rhonda, we were able to define a unique target market that I am truly excited about. Rhonda is very good at what she does and I am excited to continue working with her to grow my business in the coming months!

Thank you, Jil. We had a lot of fun in that session!

The Coach Practitioner Approach

So why is my Strategy Session the only time I charge by the session now?

Because when I used to ask for fees for a certain amount of coaching sessions each month it kept me from earning well as a coach.

That by-the-session pricing approach is what I call The Practitioner Approach.

If you think of yourself as a practitioner of coaching then you are selling coaching and your only strategy to earn is to try to convince people to buy coaching from you.

Sound familiar?

That Practitioner Approach is the same thing that therapists do, that body workers do.

There’s a HUGE limitation to selling your services by the session or even a package of sessions.

Because you are putting a price to your time, every prospect and client is mentally calculating the value of each session against the cost.

They keep asking themselves …

do I really need any more of these sessions?

And that’s the problem with selling coaching. More about this in a minute.

Most likely you learned to price your coaching this way from your coach training school. It makes perfect sense when you’re first learning how to coach, you need to fulfill a number of hours of coaching to pass or certify.

If you have finished your coach training … I invite you to STOP that pricing practice now.

It’s time for a wholly different pricing strategy that won’t hold you back from earning well.

And it begins with key mindset shifts:

Shift to Being a Business Owner

First, stop thinking of yourself as a coach practitioner and start thinking of yourself as a business owner. Rather than running a coaching practice, run your business.

I know the whole world of business ownership can feel intimidating. But it can also be hugely empowering.

When you take ownership of your business it will raise your confidence. It puts you in the driver seat of your results.

Stop Selling Coaching

If you’ve been listening to my podcast for a while no doubt you’ve heard me suggest something that at first sounds crazy.

When you talk about coaching and sell people into a coaching program you’re pushing a big rock up a steep hill.

People don’t know that they want coaching. And some people have a negative opinion of coaching or they immediately rule it out for themselves because they think it’s like therapy and expensive.

In their minds, coaching is a nice-to-have for wealthy people instead of something they urgently want right now.

I talk about this in my most popular ever episode called Why is Coaching a Hard Sell?

Yes, you’ve been trained as a coach. Yes, coaching is highly valuable. You and I know it.

But if you’re trying to sell it you’re working very hard to earn very little.

What do I suggest instead?

  • Target a unique viable audience and find out what they want so much they’ll invest in you help to get it.
  • Then, gear your entire business around serving those clients towards that ultimate outcome.
  • Your website is no longer an online brochure about the type of coaching you do but a place your target audience feels at home with a strong conversion process to build trust and a desire to work with you.

Will you still coach your clients? Yes, because coaching is the main skill in your toolbox. But you’re no longer selling coaching – something people don’t readily buy.

And if you create a long-term private program that helps that audience reach their ultimate outcome one milestone at a time, you can charge much higher fees. And that means:

  • You need far fewer clients each year.
  • You’ll do less marketing to find and enroll them.
  • You’ll do deeper work with each client.
  • You’ll never have to try to convince people to buy coaching ever again.

Your target audience will be inspired to enroll because you’ve tailor made a program that helps them overcome specific obstacles while helping them reach their big goal.

They trust you because you’ve bothered to research what they want, what’s in the way and then put a clear pathway together to help them reach what’s been unreachable on their own.

And because they are investing in a whole program up front and it has milestones that get them where they want to go, they are not thinking about the money and calculating value. They are fully focused on the transformation.

And we all know that clients focused on their own transformation make greater leaps.

So, are you ready to make these shifts? I double dog dare you to try it. Get the word “coach” and “coaching” out of your vocabulary, off of your website. You’ll be amazed how things will change for you.

And if you need help to make these shifts in mindset and approach and get everything set up in your business to make enrolling great clients easy for you, check out my VIP Coaching Business Breakthrough program.

In the Next Episode: Coach, Is It Time to Give Yourself a Raise?

Ep 51 – 2019 Listeners Choice #1 – Why is Coaching a Hard Sell?

I’m starting out here with an announcement … I’m proud to say that Prosperous Coach Podcast is 1 year old and going strong with over 18,000 downloads thanks to you.

I’m grateful for the continuous stream of enthusiasm I hear from you and how generously you’ve shared my episodes with other coaches.

Keep that up because coaches need this kind of community support.

We’re in this together. Whatever generosity you have towards other coaches comes back to you many fold.

Very soon I have a new series for you. I’ll be digging into pricing, packaging and all the mindset issues that I know coaches have about asking for fees that pay you well. I had them and I see the same limiting beliefs in my clients.

The good news is you can leap over those issues with a bit of coaching. I’ve seen lots of coaches go from stuck and limited to suddenly understanding why it’s so important to charge more than you think you’re worth in order to realize your worth and help clients transform significantly.

More about that and all the MONEY topics very soon.

To celebrate the 1 year anniversary of Prosperous Coach Podcast, I wanted to share the top episodes so far. Listeners’s Choice.

I’m not surprised that this is the clear #1 episode. And it’s so important for all coaches to hear. It’s called Why is Coaching a Hard Sell?

Listen closely. You’re about to have your eyes opened. And it’s in a good way that will help you succeed as a coach.

Click here to find the rest of the Show Notes for Why is Coaching a Hard Sell?

And tune in to another Listeners’ Choice episode for 2019.

Ep 47 – 5 Rules to Write Better Copy for Your Coaching Business

Today I am diving into the 8th episode in the series called Client Winning Coaching Websites.

Writing smart copy is both an art and science. You’ll be amazed how using these rules will turn you into a significantly better writer. And, you will attract and enroll more coaching clients because your communication speaks to the heart of your ideal clients.

If you want support to write powerful copy for your coaching business, let’s talk. Fill out the questionnaire on my Work with Rhonda page of my website and I’ll be in touch quickly.

I wished I’d had a list of copywriting tips back in the day when I started my coaching business. These rules apply to your:

  • benefit statements
  • titles, subject lines, headings
  • web copy
  • emails
  • freebies
  • blogs
  • show notes for your podcast episodes
  • social posts

Copy that’s written with these 5 Rules will be evocative and action inspiring. 

Get Your Special Download of the 5 Rules

Download it. Print it out. Keep it next to your desk so that —whenever you write — you’ll apply and ultimately integrate these tools into your writing.

One Copywriting Rule to Rule Them All

Write to attract attention and keep your readers interested. 

We live in times where people read a lot less than they used to. So you can’t write the way you used to when you were in school.

Many of the academic rules of writing that you learned in school will not at all help you attract and keep attention these days. Learning how to write compelling copy is partially an unlearning of some of those old rules. 

Rule #1 – Specificity Attracts

Specific words and concepts are more attention getting than broad, sweeping, vague or abstract words and concepts. 

What I see a lot with coaches is they haven’t yet niched and drilled down their target audience to a narrow, viable target audience. They want to cover all the bases. They want to write in a way that won’t turn off someone.

But trying to turn on everyone means you won’t turn on anyone.

When you target a unique audience, you discover their psychographics through market research. https://prosperouscoach.com/22 You come away with valuable information —specific words and spoken phrases — that drive your target audience to action.

Then use those keywords and phrases in your content. That helps you to boost search engine optimization (SEO).

If you write any kind of copy, I don’t care whether it’s a social post or it’s a blog or its copy on your website, go through it and replace the broad, vague, and abstract words with specifics that are highly relevant to your audience as it relates to your niche.

Rule #2 – Less is More

Writing well is always about making choices. 

  • Do not try to cover all the bases.
  • Don’t attempt to include everything in one sentence, paragraph, article or page on your website!
  • Focus in on easy to digest ideas.

Specificity ties in here too, but there are lots of little tips for this rule to guide you.

Keep paragraphs short. No more than four lines deep in order to encourage reading. If people are looking at your website or whatever you’ve written on a mobile device, that four lines deep on a laptop is going to be 16-20 lines deep on a phone.

Use single sentence paragraphs often. Emphasize a point or ask a powerful question.

Reduce prepositional phrases in sentences. The more prepositional phrases you have in a sentence, the more complex it is, which reduces the chances it will be read online.

Prepositional phrases draw a relationship between a noun/pronoun and another word in a sentence. The most common prepositional phrases include one of these words:

  • after
  • at
  • before
  • by
  • during
  • for
  • from
  • in
  • of
  • over
  • on
  • past
  • to
  • under
  • up
  • with

De-complicate your writing. Break run on sentences into multiple sentences.

Avoid beginning sentences with it’s, here, and there. Listen to the difference between these two sentences:

There are some bloggers who use filler phrases.

Some bloggers use filler phrases. 

The second sentence is more effective. It’s easier to parse the meaning and it uses less characters.

Use adjectives sparingly. Adjectives tend to dumb writing down. In school, we were taught to use lots of adjectives. Go through your copy and pull out the adjectives as much as possible while still keeping the meaning. 

Eliminate VERY and REALLY. See how much more powerful the 2nd sentence is below?

It’s a very important to use really powerful verbs. 

Use powerful verbs. 

Rule #3 – Write to Your Avatar 

Your AVATAR is a detailed description of your most ideal client in your target audience

Describe specific details about their:

  • top goals and ultimate desires as it pertains to your niche
  • top challenges and pain points as it pertains to their goals and your niche
  • background, education, occupation, job title, income
  • age, gender, marital status, children, location
  • other details about their day to day existence
  • buying habits

Again, these are the things you discover through market research.

Write these things down as if they describe one person. Then, when you write, picture your Avatar. Your copy will be more specific and on target. 

Develop your Avatar only when you have narrowed to a specific viable target audience and you’re crystal clear about your niche — the urgent problem they have that you help them solve.

Use the word YOU instead of we or they.

Write informally and use contractions often. Less formal is more connective.

Balance authority with vulnerability. When I first started my blog in 2006, authority was the way to go. The current culture prefers vulnerability blended with authority. You’ll capture hearts and minds if you reveal obstacles you’ve overcome.

Use present tense to keep the feeling that you’re with your audience. 

Rule #4 – Use Devices That Keep People Reading 

Use punctuation strategically. Pick your spots wisely for exclamation points. Don’t use semi-colons. Rarely use colons. Use long dashes for parenthetical phrases that you want to emphasize.

Keep paragraphs short — a maximum of four lines deep — to encourage reading. 

Convert lists of information into a lead in phrase followed by bullet points. Bullet points help to pull the eye down the page. 

Scan for repetitive words and replace them with a synonym. Repetitive words will bore your readers and stop them from reading.

Rarely use italics or bold type. Use italics only for quoted sentences or questions. Bold is best for headings, subtitles, or rare points of emphasis. 

Occasionally, indent a single sentence to make a point stand out.

Add in evocative images now and then.

Use boxes or pull quotes now and then.

Rule #5 – Balance Authority with Vulnerability

You’ll capture hearts and minds if you reveal a bit about your own journey while also sharing how you’ve overcome obstacles and created a system for others.

Share a short personal story from time to time and relate your own challenges or blunders.

Convey your authority about subjects by using the imperative voice in sentences that guide. Start those sentences with a verb.

See the difference in the 2 sentences below?

You’ll want to edit your work.

Edit your work.

Eliminate ‘can’ and ‘will’ wherever possible unless it’s something like: You can do it!

3 Steps to Take Before Your Call Your Copy Done

When you feel you’ve done your best on a draft:

1. Read what you’ve written out loud to catch and correct awkward syntax and other errors.

I might read my copy will out loud 10 times before I publish it in.

2. Challenge yourself to reduce the overall number of words by one third to one half. You will be amazed how much better the copy is when there is less of it.

3. Spell check, check grammar and then proof. Use the spelling and grammar. Spellcheck won’t catch everything, that’s why you proof. (Reading out loud helps enormously.) 

Okay, that’s my gold mine of copywriting tips for you accumulated over 20 years. Use them and write better copy, Coach!

In the Next Episode: 2 Mean Habits That Hold Coaches Back

This is about something most coaches are all too familiar with. And it has to stop!

Ep 46 – 6 Steps to Ace Your Coaching Website ‘About’ Page

This episode is the 7th in the series called Client Winning Coaching Websites

In past episodes, I’ve covered

It’s worth listening to the whole series because we’ve been building up a clear picture of exactly what a client-winning coaching website looks and sounds like copy-wise.

If you know your target audience well and have drilled down your niche, you can follow the series to create or improve your website so it attracts and pre-sells clients to work with you.

If you know right now that your coaching website is not going to help you build the business you want full of ideal clients who pay you well, let’s have a Strategy Session.

I’ll review your site and share my recommendations based on two decades of expertise about client-winning websites.

If you’re stuck, reach out. One call can lift you out of confusion on any topic so you can surge forward.

Writing Copy Is An Art 

And there is some science to it as well.

I help my clients write all of their copy in my VIP program Coaching Business Breakthrough. And by the time we’ve finished their business foundation, they know how to write great copy on their own. It took me far longer to learn.

When I started as a coach I had a lot of ideas about what made for good writing. Most of them came from school. And then, over the years, I had to slowly unlearn the stodgy rules in order to learn to write compelling copy. The kind of copy that inspires reading and taking action.

Your ABOUT page is a critical part of your website. And the truth is, all web copy is important because in relatively few words you have to strategically plan for one effect … to inspire action. Copy does that through relevance and building trust.

Not So Much About You

There’s a temptation to talk a lot about yourself and coaching on this page but that won’t help you attract and enroll clients.

When an ideal prospect lands on your website, you want them to feel totally at home and as if you are speaking directly to them. This is true for every page, even the ABOUT page.

It’s actually less about you and more about them.

People will go to the ABOUT page of your site when your other pages have made them curious.

They want to know — can this person help me overcome my biggest challenges on the way to reaching my biggest goal?

How you’ll answer that question might surprise you …

Illustrate how well you understand them.

They don’t want to read a CV. In fact, credentials are the last thing they care about. And that’s why those go last.

Jump In and Write It

So what do you write on your ABOUT page? 

Your story as it led to serving your audience. But tell it in a relatively ego-less way.

I’m about to walk you through step by step how to write this copy. To make this easier for you to visualize, check out the website of a recent client of mine. You can read her About copy and see how it fits this approach.

Go to Cultivating Resilient Teens, click on the tab in the navigation bar Meet Shawna.

Shawna, thank you for letting me share your fabulous website with other coaches.

1. Write 1 or 2 short evocative sentences that speak to the very heart of why your web visitors are on your site now. Your goal is to help them to feel immediately understood by you.2. Write a short paragraph of 2 – 3 sentences to further connect and relate to your audience. Bring in a few of the top emotional challenges plus desired outcomes related to your niche.If you’ve done market research, you’ll be able to mine that information for highly relevant words and phrases that will build a sense of trust.

3. Then, write 2 – 3 short paragraphs infused with a bit of vulnerability that show why you understand them. Either you’ve been where they are now or you have a unique perspective on it. Pull in a detail or two about your background or skills that makes you a great resource for them without being salesy or mentioning your program.

4. Segue into a short paragraph or two that explains why you created your company (name your brand) and how you help people like them (insert your Core Message/Unique Benefit Statement).

5. End with a final and more personal paragraph about what you do when you’re not serving this audience. Make it light and relatable. Add in something funny or touching.

6. Lastly, put your training, education and any relevant credentials or work history into box titled Background & Education. Eliminate any references that are too old or not on target with why this audience is on your site.

To see another equally excellent client-winning website and a slightly different approach to writing copy for the About page go to Your Business Unchained and click on Meet Audra.

Audra is another past client who generously gave me permission to share her website with you. Thank you, Audra!

Either approach is effective and one of these will work well for your About page. By the way, some people use the words Meet instead of About in their navigation bar for this page. It’s up to you.

In the Next Episode: 5 Rules to Write Better Copy for Your Coaching Business

And I’ll have a highly valuable GIVEAWAY for you with all the copywriting rules and tips I’ve curated over 2 decades. Don’t miss it!

Ep 44 – Craft a Compelling Benefit Statement for Your Coaching Business

This episode is part of the Client Winning Coaching Website series.  

In the last episode I described 3 approaches to choosing your brand or company name and domain.

Today we’re diving into how to create your benefit statement so that it’s attention-getting. It’s the second thing your web visitors should see on your website to help them feel at home and interested in what else you have to say there.

 You’ve no doubt heard the concept of a Benefit Statement. It’s a single well-crafted sentence that describes specifically how people in your target audience will benefit from working with you.

I like to call it a Core Message because it identifies your coaching niche and all of your other messaging and offers will stem from the concept. But for the purpose of this episode, I’ll stick with Benefit Statement.

If you’ve ever done any live networking, you’ve probably experienced that dreaded moment when it comes around the table to you and you’re supposed to say what you do.

I remember times like that where I literally snapped to attention when someone introduced themselves with style. That’s the power of a well-crafted Benefit Statement.

But I’ve also heard and read a lot of there statements that lack inspiration and won’t help the coach attract clients.

Obviously, you want yours to be highly relevant and compelling to your target audience. 

 So in today’s episode I’ll explain 4 main things:

  1. What makes a Benefit Statement COMPELLING as well as how to avoid that “MEH” response.
  2. What a well-crafted Benefit Statement will do for you and your target audience  plus why it will help you get engagement and enroll clients from your website.
  3.  A bunch of Benefit Statements that are beautifully word-smithed for impact as well as some that are duds so you can see the difference.
  4.  The pre-work and basic formula for crafting your own Benefit Statement.

 So first, what does a Benefit Statement do for you and your prospects?

 Your Benefit Statement is an attention-getter. It’s the centerpiece of your marketing. When you share an effective Benefit Statement, people will understand exactly who you serve and why those people would want to hire you.

You want colleagues and friends who hear it to say:
     “Oh, I know someone who could really use your help!”

You’ll use your statement a lot over the course of your business, including as:

·      The first marketing message in the header of your website.

·      The first sentence that you say to introduce yourself to prospects.

·      The beginning of your “elevator” speech when you share what you do in a networking meeting.

·      One of the first sentences within your “bio” for a presentation or your by-line in any kind of guest article or promotional material.

·      It’s also what you’d say if someone asks what you do for a living.

What Will Your Core Message Do for You?

·      Make it easy for you to articulate how you benefit your target audience.

·      “Weed out” non-ideal prospects. 

·      Spark interest with ideal prospects in seconds.

·      Evoke the response “That’s me!” or “I want help with that!”

·      Invite them to take a step with you.

·      Open potential for an enrolling conversation.

What Will Your Core Message Do for Your Coaching Audience?

·      They feel that you understand them and what they urgently want.

·      They recognize you as a potential go-to resource for them.

·      They begin to know, like and trust you (or move on).

Wouldn’t it be grand to stop having those awkward moments of trying to explain feebly what coaching is and why someone wants it.

In fact, and this is important … the word coaching doesn’t show up at all in a powerful Benefit Statement.

So before I go further let me share some actual Benefit Statements used by successful coaches.

As you listen to these, notice how each begins by specifically naming a target audience, then artfully goes on to name a challenge that target audience has which implies an outcome they want.

I help mompreneurs make more money doing work they love while taking care of priority #1: FAMILY.

I help parents empower their teenage daughters to build confidence, integrity and resilience for all of life’s adventures.

I help authors get their books out of their head and into bookstores.

I help restaurant owners and managers keep the staff and patrons who keep them in business.

I help divorced women move forward with vitality and a positive sense of self.

I help financial planners confidently build a lifetime of value with multi-generational clients.

So, do you see why those would snap the specific audiences mentioned to attention and pique interest?

What Makes for a Top Notch Benefit Statement?

Those were all top notch Benefit Statements. Why?

1.     Its one single sentence streamlined to 10 – 25 words max.

2.     It has the fewest possible prepositional phrases.

3.     The target audience is defined in the first phrase. I help _____

4.     The rest of the sentence names 1 to 2 SPECIFIC challenges and/or desired outcomes for your target audience.

5.     It flows mellifluously off the tongue. In other words it’s easy to say and read.

6.     It’s emotionally evocative.

That last one is critical if you want your statement to inspire action.

The words and concepts are highly relevant to the target audience and the syntax of the sentence is crafted mindfully.

That’s again why it’s really helpful to do market research in the form of info interviews to draw out from individuals in your target audience what specifically they say — how they language pain points and desired outcomes.

If you take nothing else away from today, I want you to hear this: Specificity grabs attention!

That applies to all messaging, whether you’re creating a Benefit Statement, writing web copy, blogs, social posts. You name it.

It’s so tempting to go with bland, broad, vague and abstract words. But those don’t grab attention or inspire action.

I think what happens for a lot for coaches is they want to leave the door open. They want their message to cover all bases. But that’s a misstep. Because broad, vague and abstract words and concepts don’t move people to action.

Let’s look at some of the Benefit Statements I read before one at a time. First, I’m going to dumb it down by replacing specific words with more broad, vague or abstract words. Then I’ll read again the crafted statement.

Here’s an example of how vague and broad misses the mark.

I help women get through divorce and thrive in their new life and relationships.

It’s not bad, just not attention getting. Now here it is with more specificity in the words:

I help divorced women move forward with vitality and a positive sense of self.

Instead of trying to cover everything — thriving in their new life — this statement hones in on vitality and positive sense of self, something all divorced women would want. 

Here’s another Benefit Statement dumbed down with abstraction and vagaries:

I help moms find fulfillment and joy in their businesses and family.

Starting with the audience as moms is too broad. The words ‘fulfillment’ and ‘joy ‘are too abstract, especially when used in a sentence that doesn’t get to a tangible benefit.

Tangible benefits get more attention. But that doesn’t mean you can’t also have emotional benefits included. 

See what I mean with this emotionally evocative Benefit Statement:

I help mompreneurs make more money doing work they love while taking care of priority #1: FAMILY.

See how much more powerful that statement is?

We know the previous statement was talking to moms with businesses but it didn’t make it as clear as it could. And what do business owners want? To make more money doing work they love. But since she’s a mom she also wants to take good care of her family.

Listen to one more set of Benefit Statements that goes from so-so to fantastic!

I help authors write with ease and grace so they can publish their books.

Okay. Not horrible. It names the target audience and something want, but it’s lacking emotionally evocative words. So this one infuses that emotion with a sense of motion:

I help authors get their books out of their head and into bookstores.

The Basic Formula for Your Benefit Statement

It might surprise you to know that a highly effective Benefit Statement is NOT:

·      About you.

·      About your skills.

·      A laundry list of how you help your clients.

·      The same as a tagline. That’s a different device altogether.

When you write your Benefit Statement:

1.     Begin with ‘I help’ or ‘Helping’.

2.     Then describe your target audience in the fewest possible words.

3.     Lastly describe in evocative language a specific tangible outcome they know they want that implies a related challenge they’ll move beyond.

CAUTION: Testing your Benefit Statement on people who are NOT in your target audience or who are not experts in marketing won’t bring you useful feedback. Well-meaning people who don’t understand what you’re doing may try to dissuade you from targeting and using specific language.

Okay, go forth and word-smith a compelling Core Message!

In the Next Episode: Custom Coaching Website Vs. DIY Template with Guest, Nichole Betterley, Chief Web Wiz

I’ll be interviewing Nichole Betterley https://npoweredsites.com, an ace web designer, the best I’ve found for coaches. We’ll talk about the real differences between DIY websites and custom professionally designed site. We’re biased for good reason.