Life coaches. Business consultants. Fitness trainers. There are a million coaching topics, but there are really only two kinds of coaches:
Those who make a livable income, and those who don’t.
Here’s the thing—almost all coaches start charging by hour or by session, and that’s an okay start. But unless you’re a literal celebrity in your field, charging by session can only get you so far.
If you’re a full-time coach trying to grow, the easiest way to leap to the next tier is to stop delivering one-off services, and instead create coaching packages.
Why package your coaching services?
Imagine you want to learn how to play guitar so you can play a song at your sister’s wedding in a few months (awww). You don’t have time to mess around, so you decide to look into a teacher who can help you pick up the basics quickly.
As you research instructors, and you come across two listings. The first one says:
Guitar Lessons for Beginners – $50/hour
And the second one says:
The Guitar Starter Series – Start playing your favorite songs in just one month! $400
Both options are taught by experienced teachers, and each offer a 1-hour lesson each week. Sure, the second option is literally double in price than the first. But you want to learn guitar fast, and the second option ensures you’ll learn how to play a song quickly.
The same goes for coaching. Your clients have a specific problem. By packaging your services into a system that solves that problem, you can charge far more—even if it’s the same number of hours on your end.
The two kinds of coaching packages
Once you get away from one-off sessions, there are really two main ways to package your services:
1) Focused on one result
As described in the guitar teacher example, the results-focused package is all about delivering a specific result in a specified amount of time. Each session is highly organized and planned out to ensure the client reaches their goal.
- Pros: Typically a higher price point, and can eventually be scaled into a course.
- Cons: If you do it right, each client will only need to buy this package once—because their problem will be solved at the end.
2) Ongoing results
Like an hourly rate, this package structure is priced based on time. However, unlike an hourly rate, the client must buy multiple sessions at a time. So, this might by a monthly rate, or even a 3-month or 6-month price. The purpose is to operate as a trusted advisor and accountability partner to your client. Long-term membership groups and clubs that people can subscribe to also fall into this category.
- Pros: More consistent income, deeper client relationships, and may require less preparation before each session (since you might be working more on the fly).
- Cons: It’s a bit harder to sell. Rather than a defined end goal, you’re delivering ongoing support to achieve lots of goals along the way. Unless you’re well-established as an authority in a given field, it can be tough to communicate your value.
Why it’s important to understand this distinction
Many people buy coaching packages with excitement, only to end up confused and unsatisfied. And it’s not because the coach did a poor job—they may have been great! But they didn’t set proper expectations.
When positioning your coaching or consulting package, you must make it clear if your content is results-focused or more in the ongoing-support camp.
If someone’s looking for a lot of structure and you start each session with “What’s on your mind?” they’re not going to be very happy.
And the opposite is true as well—if your client is facing different problems every week and you’re spending the whole time training on an unrelated topic, you can bet they won’t be around for long.
Which one is right for your business?
It depends on what you want your business to look like.
If you enjoy getting a system down pat and teaching it to people, the focused-result path is going to work better for you.
If you enjoy building deep relationships and really getting to know someone’s business, becoming an ongoing supporter will fit you well.
Of course, you can always offer both. There are many ways you could structure this:
- Maybe you take in clients via a results-focused package, and when they’re done you offer ongoing support.
- Or you could offer ongoing support as your main offering, and a few times a year you run results-focused group coaching programs on specific topics.
- Or eventually, you can scale everything from one-on-one to one-to many: You have a focused-result online course, and you then direct clients to continue working with you in an ongoing membership group.
Different clients want different things, and offering both allows you to make a higher income with the results package while maintaining long-term income with ongoing support.
How to build a focused-result coaching package your clients will love
I’m a strong believer in the fact that if you want to create a winning results-based coaching or consulting package, you must first ensure that you can get results in the first place.
This should go without saying, but many people want to coach so much, they’re willing to sell their advice without much first-hand experience. Not only is that bad business, but you won’t end with many satisfied customers (and that means no referrals).
If you want to coach on a topic that you haven’t done yourself, hit the pause button. Take these steps to to ensure what you’re coaching on will actually deliver—and that it’s addressing a real need:
1) Interview your target clients
What are their actual pain points around the topic you want to coach on? What do they want to learn? What solution would they pay good money for? Get face time with people in your target audience and find out what they have to say themselves.
2) Do the work yourself as a freelancer
If you’ve studied social media marketing but haven’t done much of it yourself, go get some social media clients. Learn it all first hand. You can’t coach from blog articles.
3) Teach something you already know instead
If you don’t want to freelance, choose a coaching topic that you’re already familiar with. Maybe you’re a vegan who can teach people how to put together killer beginner meal plans. Maybe you are an amazing organizer and can coach on clutter management systems. Examine your life experiences and ask, what do I know really well, even if it’s totally niche?
Once you have a topic you understand well, it’s time to add structure. Here are the key decisions you’ll need to make as you plan your coaching package:
What’s the end result?
What result are you promising, and what steps will your client need to take to get there?
How long will it take?
Is this a three-session masterclass, or a 3-month training? How often will you meet, and for how long?
How much is one-on-one?
If it’s a group coaching program, will they have any individual time with you?
A results-based coaching package can often look a lot like an online course—except it’s live and highly personal. But like an online course, it’s a good idea to put together at least an outline of the content you’ll cover in each session.
How to create an ongoing support coaching package that clients stick with for years
A consulting service that offers ongoing support can be a golden way to stabilize your income and escape the feast or famine cycle that plagues so many solopreneurs.
The key is to have a system that continually offers new value. Here are a few different models you could follow:
This is the most common approach that coaches take, essentially positioning themselves as a mentor to help their clients through whatever challenges they’re facing. This works best when your clients are following a similar life path that you’ve already walked, as they’ll be bringing random questions that require a depth and breadth of experience to answer well.
The accountability buddy
The accountability buddy checks in at regularly scheduled times to check how the client is doing and help them course-correct. You see this most often in the fitness coaching industry, but the basic idea can work with any client who needs some external motivation. This model is similar to a mentor, but you can position yourself as an accountability buddy without quite as much experience because the benefit you’re primarily giving isn’t your expertise, but rather motivation.
One way to grow your practice away from being constrained by time is to build a group coaching community. This is a group of like-minded clients who not only look to you for expert advice, but are also able to help each other when you’re not around. This is highly valuable to the right clients. Be ready, though—this will require a different skill set than merely coaching. In this role, you’ll find yourself acting more as a community manager, and your time will be split between giving advice directly and sparking discussion so your clients can learn to give advice to one another.
Obviously, these models overlap all the time, and may even change as you go. But they’re models, and they’re solid tools for understanding what benefit you’re delivering as you flesh out your coaching concept.
Pricing your coaching services
Packaging your services allows you to charge more for your services not only because you’re likely delivering a more effective product, but also because you are drawing customers into a value-based mindset. They’re not thinking, “Oh no, I have to pay for ANOTHER session?” Instead, they’re weighing the cost against the benefits they’ll gain—and that’s exactly how you want your client to think.
Coaching is an investment with a return, after all.
Now, choosing the actual price can be a tricky thing. Benchmarks can be helpful, but also very inaccurate because they don’t take into account the varying factors from one coach to another.
But I know you want numbers… so here are some numbers
My first rule of running a service-based business: If you’re not charging at least $45 for your time, you’re not going to survive. This is because self-employed taxes are high, plus you have to account for the time spent winning a new client, and all the non-client work you do to stay afloat (admin, marketing, research, etc.).
But $45 is the ground floor minimum. Average coaching prices are around $200/hour, and can range into $1-2K if you’re a well-known expert. Here are some questions to ask to help you find the price that’s right for you.
How much can your target client afford?
A business owner with a healthy income is used to investing in her business, and herself, and is likely to feel comfortable buying big-ticket coaching packages. In fact, she may shy away from services that are priced too low because of that nagging voice that wonders, What’s wrong with it?
On the other hand, a single mom caring for two kids on an entry-level income is not likely going to spend as much unless she reeeaally sees the value. She may, however, be more interested in a lower-priced, less-custom offering like group coaching for a specific problem she’s dealing with.
What’s your track record?
How much experience do you have, and how well can you prove that experience? Case studies, testimonials, official training, and certifications all help support your authority and help your client justify the cost. In general, the more of these trust signals you’re able to clearly present on your website, the more you can expect people to pay.
How invested do clients need to be to see results?
You want your clients to succeed. Obviously. And not only for the good feels—clients who see results are clients who give referrals, so it’s in your best interest to help them reach their goals.
But getting people to take action is hard, and great coaching alone isn’t enough. A high price tag can ensure your clients are engaged and ready to do the work. Julia Stewart from the School of Coaching Mastery puts it like this:
“When people buy a high-end service, they’re saying to themselves, ‘I’m worth it!’ That feeling is what they want. And when someone decides it’s time to get a life coach to help them upgrade their life, that feeling is a big part of their resolve.”
When people feel like they’re investing in themselves, they’re going to show up every. damn. week. People love buying things that make them feel like they’re moving forward. Don’t underestimate the sticking power of a bigger price tag.
Say it with confidence
When you settle on a price, state it with confidence. Sales calls take practice, but mastering the money conversation is the key to not only winning clients, but starting out each client engagement on the right foot. They want to feel confident in their purchase, and your communication will tell them whether or not they can be.
And you know, some people will hear your price and turn you down. That’s okay. In fact, if no one’s turning you down, it means your prices are too low. It’s okay to start low in order to get client testimonials, but I encourage you to move outside your comfort zone as quickly as you can. Make it your goal to get to the point where you’re closing only half of your sales calls. This will help you focus on higher-ticket clients who are going to be a better fit for what you’re offering.
Naming your coaching packages
Naming is half science and half art. You could title it “[topic] coaching” and call it a day, but this typically only works if you’re already known for your specialty. For most coaches and consultants, you’ll want something “sticky,” something more memorable.
Glenn White from Brandwatch has 5 golden rules for naming a product:
- It should be readable and writable
- It should be unique
- It should be short, punchy and memorable
- It should look good written down and sound cool to say
- It should evoke an emotion, feeling or idea
With that in mind, it’s time to start brainstorming. I love to start with word lists.
- Write down all the words around the topic you consult on (e.g. fitness, sales, language learning).
- Then, list words that describe the results of working with you (e.g. more clients, less stress, feel 10 years younger).
- Next, write down all the emotions you want associated with your program (e.g. happy, glee, wise, smart).
- Finally, find words that describe the structure of how you work (e.g. support, sidekick, results, on-call).
Start mixing and matching. Create a list of hopefuls. If you’re planning on creating a dedicated website for the program, do some domain name searches on GoDaddy to see if they’re taken. And of course, double-check that they’re not infringing on other people’s product names.
For naming and package structure inspiration, here’s a variety of package examples from full-time coaches and consultants:
Coaching package examples
Ash Ambirge’s Unfuckwithable Girlfriends
Ash Ambirge of The Middle Finger Project runs what she calls an “advisory group” named Unfuckwithable Girlfriends—a private Facebook group for freelancers. Not only is she giving advice in the group on the regular, but each week an expert freelancer teaches a new skill, which is a GREAT way to keep delivering value and ensure long-term subscription.
Sam Owens’s Relationship & Marriage Coaching
Sam Owens is a well-established relationship in the UK who coaches on a variety of relationship topics, including self-esteem and anxiety. While he doesn’t have an absolute timeline laid out for his packages (honestly, a tight timeline would be tricky with something as variable as relationship coaching), he knows his content well enough to give a clear estimate, saying that you’ll achieve your “coaching goals in 3-6 sessions,” and that “many do so in just 3-4.”
Kathleen Ventura’s 3 New Clients in 30 Days
Kathleen Ventura helps socially responsible businesses grow. In April 2018, she ran a group coaching program for just 15 people that had a defined timeline and a defined outcome. The experience included weekly group calls, a private Facebook group and an optional add-on of one-on-one coaching time.
Designed to Fit Nutrition Meal Plans
Designed to Fit Nutrition is a team of coaches who have productized their coaching into customized meal plans. You can choose the meal plan duration, and then you can expect email check-ins each week from their team. This pairing of product and email check-ins is a great way to offer coaching services in a way that cuts down on face-to-face time.
Lissa Duty’s Ultimate Social Media Training
Lissa Duty offers a few different coaching options for different needs, but her Ultimate Social Media Training is an 8-hour training customized to your business. Six hours go to Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn, and the last two hours focuses on your individual needs and answering questions.
How do you structure your coaching packages? OR, what’s the best coaching package you’ve ever bought?
Answer in the comments so others can see your recommendations!