I absolutely cannot wait to share with you some of the skills and the many pieces that are involved in how to get started as an online entrepreneur or professional coach. Whether you’re a new life coach, new health coach, new executive coach or new business coach, solopreneur, intrapreneur, mompreneur, the reality is that you can (and should) have a presence online, and I want to talk about your very first steps today.
I originally posted this article on my blog for coaches, but it really is applicable to anyone seeking to establish an online presence and a business that monetizes your knowledge.
Many coaches are exclusively online and are making a great income without having a single in-person meeting with their clients; they are meeting over skype, facetime, and zoom and co-creating incredible results with their clients while managing an intentional lifestyle that works for them. It is false advertising to say that this is easy work. Establishing an online presence is hard work now, consistent work and takes courage. Do this consistently, and reap the benefits later.
I’ll let you know that I have my own style of teaching entrepreneurs and coaches. I am a learning specialist and a writer, and have found visual imagery is powerful. Building an online business is totally overwhelming for non-techies, and like many of you, I found it hard/overwhelming/confusing/discouraging to sort through the bajillion things I felt that I needed to do. Email lists? Website? Domain? Funnel? Liquid code? What’s that? Metrics? Analytics? Conversation rates? What?!
The Number One Mistake of New Coaches and Online Entrepreneurs
The number one mistake I see new coaches and online entrepreneurs doing is getting caught up in the minutae, analytics and systems, and they lose sight of the core of their business and spread their time too thin, picking away at the multitude of projects that can pile up.
This imagery is founded in what I believe is at the heart and soul of any business. YOUR CUSTOMER.
Now, take my arm and walk with me – take your first steps right now.
Advice for Coaches Building an Online Coaching Business
Literally, you’ve just finished your ICF Coach Knowledge Assessment, graduated from your Accredited Coach Training Program, have your potentials and you are ready to make an impact on the world as a coach ( you’ve always known it was coming by the way, congratulations on listening to your intuition!)
Or maybe you’ve decided to finally take on a project that fulfills your sense of purpose and entrepreneurial desires.
Let’s delay no more. Fire up that imagination and we’re going to step from the real world, to your online world.
First, you must build your property:
Build the foundation:
Buy a domain (I use GoDaddy.Com)
Set up the Building:
Set up a Basic (free) WordPress website. Map your domain to this website. You will spend some time getting used to the WordPress platform, then learning SEO and a bajillion other things I alluded to above, but that comes with time. They become fun projects and mini modules to cover in your rapid learning curve this year.
Paint the walls and decorate:
Spend some time writing blogs, getting to know WordPress and building out a basic menu and content. There’s lots of googling and some frustration in this stage, just like any house building or renovation project, right?
Want to make it look nice? Sign up for free, user friendly graphic design tools at http://www.canva.com or hire someone on Upwork to do it for you.
Put up an Inviting Sign:
Signs will show people what you’re about. Follow SEO principles so that people find you on google. Sign up for a Mailchimp account and begin building an email list by adding a sign up form on your website, where your fans can subscribe or get a free pdf that is valuable enough to solve their problems, and they’d happily exchange their email for.
Again, there will be learning curve with mail chimp or whichever platform you’d like to use. Embrace it. Again, another fun mini module or learning module for you to check off. Spend some time painting the signs.
Create a Lovely Garden for your Guests:
Choose a social media platform that will be your garden. I’d recommend Facebook and Instagram for coaches specifically because you’ll be focusing on your community, the tribe that you want to attract, and there is no better way to serve your community as a coach than live video!
Remember, a house can have different gardens. Some people might like a contemporary, visually rich garden (Instagram) with lots of interaction – others may like more structure and traditional gardens (Facebook where you can drop files and have private groups.)
Your guests will enjoy your lovely gardens. They may wander between them or stick to one. It’s okay. They’re getting an experience they enjoy. Make sure your gardens have nice features and flowers. Start planting more seeds in your gardens, which are the coaching tools, insights and learnings you want to offer. You’re enriching their lives with every seed you plant in that garden. Water these seeds with conversation and interaction. Talk to your guests about the seeds, and what type of flower they will grow into.
What Type of Guests Would You Like to Attract?
As you stand and admire the lovely gardens and structure you’ve created, think about what type of people would appreciate what you offer.
Now, here’s a really important part – this ties in with what we call attraction-based marketing. You can try to appeal to everybody and have a rather haphazard garden. Certain features will draw people in, but they won’t stay because there’s not enough of what they like. OR, you can cultivate something that touches your soul that you are happy to tend to every day, day in and day out. It has a theme and attracts guests who love and want more of it. They stay longer, and they are drawn back.
Decide what you are about, what you want to offer, and don’t try to appeal to everybody. You may say, wait a minute Carina, is that niche marketing or finding your niche? Why yes friend, yes it is.
This visual really helps you with thinking about your ideal customer, your customer avatar as they say in fancy online marketing forums. Who would be drawn to this garden? What do these types of guests like more of? Who do you want to spend time with in your gardens, what type of conversations do you want to have, and what are the characteristics of people you truly resonate with? Your vibe attracts your tribe, and your online garden will, too. If you haven’t done any work yet on your personal strengths as a coach and your online leadership style, I invite you to have that conversation with me.
What Will You Serve Them?
As your guests enter your different gardens (Facebook, Instagram, Blog) and you have an idea of their tastes (similar to yours) you’ll want to keep them in the gardens, have the time to speak with them, and cultivate a relationship. What kind of refreshment will you serve them? How can you serve your guests?
Think about the coaching models and tools that you yourself loved in coach training, or the solutions your business is providing to your customers. What changed your own life? What did you come out of coach training most wanting to share with people? Why did you start this business in the first place (because it touched you enough that you wanted to offer it to other people.)
I encourage you to generously share little gifts with your guests, to elevate their experience and have the walk away feeling inspired, positive, lighter, happy and more confident – or, whatever feeling it is you want them to have.
At the end of the day, building an online business (and your tribe / community) is not about you as a coach or an entrepreneur.
It’s not about your models or the best systems or the best tech – it’s not even about the biggest email lists or followers. It’s about the unglamorous work of kneeling in that garden, tending to it day in and day out, planting seeds and waiting for them to grow patiently, watching carefully what your guests enjoy the most, talk to you about and ask for more of, and then feeling deep appreciation when you see the smiles on their face as they walk among the garden and chat with other guests.
At the end of the day we don’t remember what people told us, but we remember who people made us feel. Online, or IRL. Through our online interactions we are leaving an energetic footprint. We are setting a wavelength that other people will be attracted to (and compelled to join.)
Remember dear entrepreneurs, it will always be about the recipient of your service. How you made them feel, how their life was elevated, how you solved their problems.
You have a special gift that the world has been waiting for. You have the tools, training and the experience of someone who elevated their own lives and can now can share it, in a beautiful cultivated space (your online garden) with enticing refreshments (samples of these tools.)
I hope you enjoyed this visual and that it serves you as you begin to think about the presence you want to establish, which platforms to engage in online, and how to begin cultivating a community of like-minded people. People who you’d want to be with – whom you can serve with your unique mix of talents, energy and background.
There’s someone out there waiting for what you are doing, in the style you are doing it, and the way you are delivering it online. This, no-one else can replicate.
There’s someone out there waiting for you to finally claim your space online and put yourself out there. And I’m here to tell you, go for it!
Carina Huggins is a professionally certified coach with the International Coach Federation, working with innovative entrepreneurs and coaches who are the curious, and the brave, negotiating their way through our shifting landscapes of work and lifestyle.
She combines her psychometric training, professional coaching and own deep online business experience to help her clients navigate their journeys in a way that closes the gap between work, lifestyle and purpose. Carina has always enjoyed exploring the outer edges and learning from “the disruptive, curious and brave.”