There are many theories about the best way to choose a coaching niche. Start broad and let it find you. Focus on a topic you know. Go with your passion. Or my favorite, target a narrow and hungry audience for quick success. All of them have some appeal. Some are more effective than others.
Ultimately, you want a coaching niche that helps you use your special gifts to do good in the world while you do well financially.
However you come to it, when you land on the right niche for you, it’s as if all the doors of opportunity open up and prosperity flows in. It solves so many problems:
- How to talk about what you do without selling generic coaching
- How to authentically inspire enrollment
- How to leverage your efforts for a bigger impact and result
Test your coaching niche to see if it will payoff here.
What if the coaching niche you’ve pursued isn’t helping you? What if it’s actually holding you back?
It happens, and it can be painful, especially if you’ve invested a lot of time and money. Then it’s hard to let go, even if it’s not working. Release it. There’s a better path ahead.
If you’re determined to do good in the world while doing well financially, then it’s worth asking whether you should choose a coaching niche or not. There are some very compelling reasons why you’d want to niche as well as a few circumstances where niching would not be right for you. I’ll cover both in this post.
In the “pro” column, targeting a viable coaching niche opens wide the doors of opportunity and prosperity by helping you:
- Solidify your brand.
- Earn more by specializing.
- Become well known quickly.
- Break through filters and capture more attention.
- Get more of the right kind of referrals.
- Build “social proof” with colleagues and future clients.
- Focus and leverage everything you do so you can work less.
- Stand out in the crowd of service providers.
- Positively impact a unique group of people.
Since the nineties, when coaching became a profession and consulting of all types burgeoned, there are more solopreneurs in the world than ever before. That means niching is more of an advantage than it used to be. In fact, it’s nearly impossible to get your share of attention from potential clients if you don’t stand out strongly in some way. Your niche helps you stand out in the most complete and long lasting way.
A couple of years ago, the coaching industry magazine choice featured an issue devoted to “The M Word” — too discreet to even print the word in large type. Money is perhaps the most taboo topic, yet it’s in the back of every coach’s mind – how to make more of it, more easily and consistently.
For me, it boils down to this question – why do some coaches make more than others? I’m studying this right now, not only for myself, but also for coaches who seem to only get pro bono or trade clients. And for the coaches who continuously over-deliver, under-fill their business, place a low value on their services, and haven’t yet realized how the power of coaching grows when clients fully invest in themselves. It can be different for you, if you really want it to be.
The Big Secret
The #1 reason why some coaches make more than others — they ask for it! That’s the big secret.
You’ve heard “the squeaky wheel gets the grease”. That applies here too. It’s not about being smarter – except for the fact that they are smart enough to ask. You don’t need more coaching skills and certifications. And it’s not about having more experience or being better at coaching and marketing. But you do have to believe in yourself enough to ask for more.
People who make a great living in coaching think strategically about money often enough to plan for it. They analyze their sales, and innovate ways to increase them. That doesn’t mean they are obsessed with the bottom line or less heartful than other coaches. In fact, some of the highest earning coaches are very spiritual in their approach to business, knowing that abundance means there’s enough for all.
What else do coaches who earn more know, that you can apply right now?
Some part of you already knows this… it’s a rare person that wakes up in the morning thinking “I need a coach!” That person is “initiated” into the value of coaching because they or someone they know has had a positive experience with coaching. But that’s a small percentage of all the people in the world.
So why are coaches working so hard to convince people to buy their coaching?
I floundered around with this fruitless approach myself in my first three years of my business. Then I realized, that selling coaching is a very sales-like approach and I didn’t want to do it anymore. It takes a lot of energy for little return and doesn’t build much momentum or ease over time.
Each new prospect has to be convinced. It’s like starting over with every sample session. And too many say they can’t afford it because they perceive coaching as a luxury.
It’s not very coach-like is it?
Think about it. We’re taught to work with clients holistically, focusing in on their agenda — what is it that they want today. And then we use our skills, listening and asking powerful questions, to draw out their wisdom, help get perspective and work through obstacles so they walk away with the outcome they came for.
Coaching is client-centric. But selling coaching is not.
So, what would be a more client-centric approach to attracting clients? There’s a tried and true way. Every successful change agent, entrepreneur and professional has done this. They target a specific group of people, find out exactly what they want — that tangible outcome they woke up wanting this morning — and show how they can help them get there.
It’s a good question. If you’ve been selling a certain type of coaching such as relationship, career, wellness, leadership, life purpose (put any word before coaching)… you must be wondering this yourself because clients may have been hard to come by.
Many coaches haven’t noticed a blip in the number of people wanting their services. In fact, their income has increased over the last few years and it’s still rising. Their clients are staying longer. What are they doing differently?
Well, I’ll tell you, this may be shocking, but they are NOT selling coaching. And yet they are continuously doing some fine coaching with a wait list of clients.
Here’s what we know about any economic downturn, and there have been several over the last two decades where coaches rode the wave back up ahead of the curve…
People still buy things they want, but they have changed their buying strategy.
They feel they must justify their expenses and they get very serious about what’s really important to them. They dedicate their resources to those things right now.
I hope you didn’t. But don’t worry, it’s never too late to pick up that step because it will dramatically affect how much you earn and how hard you work.
We all happily stumble into exciting opportunities that become significant turning points in our coaching business. There’s a lot of grace in moving with the current… but it’s helpful to at least pick the river that will take you to where you ultimately want to go.
Making conscious choices, planning your work and working your plan, and setting intentions for the big milestones in your life are part of a prosperity practice. Deviating from the plan here and there is cool (but spazzing out all over the place is not so cool).
In my last post, my friend Erika Kalmar talked about the importance of business planning. Unsexy as that may seem, what I know for sure is that she’s absolutely right. Business planning helps you take AIM and take your business seriously.
But it’s not the first step…
The 1st Crucial Step is Choose a Smart Coaching Niche: Decide specifically who you serve and what transformation you provide (that they urgently want). Stand for something and someone. That’s how you stand out.
Without that clarity, your business plan will be sketchy at best, your website will be bland and your offers won’t compel people to invest.
Are you leading your coaching business to long-term sustainable success? Or are you just taking stabs and hoping for the best?
Coaches are taught to choose a coaching niche based on what we are passionate about. That approach to niching speaks to us, because we’re people of the heart. We tend to think that if we follow our true purpose, the money part will take care of itself.
Then there’s the real world of business. Coaches make money by selling a service. Like every other business, we have to get in front of people who don’t already know us, and show them that we offer something they are willing to pay for.
Nearly all of us start out thinking we know how to do that, and nearly all of us get humbled when it turns out not to be so easy. It turns out, the money part doesn’t take care of itself.
I’m all about passion, believe me. I completely endorse you following your purpose. But following your purpose is not the whole story – because it’s all about you. It leaves out your tribe.
So, what if you were to look at the whole topic of your niche from the point of view of the people you serve? From that angle, the question is –
What coaching niche would bring you a steady stream of ideal clients?
What coaching niche would connect so powerfully with what your tribe really wants that they would line up to work with you? Either your niche has that potential or it doesn’t. If it doesn’t, you have to ask yourself how you are going to take care of the money part.
Test Your Niche
How do you know if your niche has that potential? Try this quick test. Rate your niche on a scale of 1-10 (10 being best) for the following four questions:
Have you ever invested in a teleseminar, home study program, or live event to get your coaching business off the ground, and then months later felt guilty for spending the money and frustrated that you didn’t reap the promised results? If so, you’re not alone.
But did you waste your time and money? I think not. Here’s why those programs haven’t worked their magic for you… yet.
You have invested in valuable programs full of cutting edge tools and proven techniques to amp up your income and bring you a better business. But without a solid foundation in place, you cannot fully leverage these techniques, even if you do your best to implement them.
Do any of these scenarios sound familiar:
- You’ve learned from the best how to fill your teleseminars or launch high ticket group coaching programs, but you still don’t know where to find enough people to enroll in your programs, and you don’t know exactly how to communicate the benefits in way that has them saying “Yes!”
- You’ve got all the steps for creating membership programs and other recurring revenue products, but because you’re not certain of your niche, you’re not confident that if you build it, they will come.
- You’ve learned how to enroll clients using the most powerful set of questions, but you’re having trouble scheduling people into your consults in the first place.
There’s a building block needed before these skills will reliably work for you.