Embarking on a career in life coaching can be an incredibly rewarding experience. You’ll get to help people make positive changes in their lives and truly impact them in meaningful ways.
But before you can get to the fun part, there are a few basics you need to get out of the way first. After all, you don’t want to jump into a career unprepared.
In this article, we’ll cover the steps you need to get started as a life coach, from the skills you’ll need to develop and certifications you might want to pursue, right down to the marketing strategies you can use to get your business up and running.
What Do Life Coaches Do?
Before we look at the skills and training you need to become a life coach, let’s briefly recap what a life coach actually does.
Life coaches help people identify and achieve their goals by providing motivation and direction. Depending on the types of clients you work with, this could mean anything from creating an action plan for landing their dream job to helping them work through a significant life change or transition.
But a life coach isn’t a therapist or psychologist – you’re not there to diagnose, treat or provide therapy for clients. Instead, your job is to listen and give advice (based on your training and experience), helping the client develop a plan to reach their goals.
What Skills Will You Need?
With a broad overview of life coaching firmly in mind, let’s turn our attention to the skills you’ll need to hone if you want to thrive in this new career. Taking the time to perfect the following areas will help build a solid basis for your life coaching practice.
#1: Being Empathic
Since people come in all shapes and sizes – so do their dilemmas.
To properly serve your clients, you’ll have to learn to put yourself in their shoes and meet them where they’re at by empathizing with their predicament and understanding the barriers between them and their goals.
Showing sensitivity to each person’s circumstances, no matter how different they may be from yours, will also aid you in coming up with appropriate questions to find tailored solutions that fit your client’s needs.
#2: Staying Objective
While empathy will help you relate to your clients on an emotional level, objectivity will provide the framework for problem-solving. You don’t want to get too emotionally caught up in a client’s journey or risk losing the impartial guidance clients look for in their life coach.
Gaining objectivity will help you keep a distanced approach to the situation and provide advice in your client’s best interest. Remember, even though you may have good intentions, everyone has their own prejudices that can color their views – so work on being dispassionate and unbiased when working out solutions for your clients.
#3: Communicating Effectively
A crucial part of your job description is to steer conversations and help clients work out their own answers. But without clear and concise communication, that simply isn’t possible. You must be able to listen carefully and ask poignant questions that bring clarity and solutions into focus.
In addition, you should also learn to read between the lines, identify nonverbal cues and pick up on subtle expressions. This will help you form a clearer picture of your client’s thought processes and make a more accurate assessment of their situation. Writing skills will be equally essential, as they’ll come in handy when following up or summarizing a particular session.
#4: Listening attentively
Of course, you can’t be a good life coach without being an attentive listener. That doesn’t mean that you just sit there and nod your head in agreement – you must be actively engaged, asking questions that probe for deeper answers and understanding.
You should also aim to give your full attention, even if the conversation moves away from the topic. Many times, people will reveal details of their lives that have nothing to do with the problem – but that carries the key to the solution. The ability to truly listen and be present in conversations will ensure you have a full view of the problem and are better able to help your clients clarify their thinking.
#5: Managing a business
Not all life coaches make a living solely through coaching – many also have other sources of income or business ventures. But, if you’re looking to make a full-time career out of life coaching through high-end services, you’ll need to be well-versed in the fundamentals of business management.
Knowing how to develop an appropriate pricing structure, recognizing your target market, and creating an effective marketing plan are just a few of the things you’ll need to pick up on. In addition, mastering the basics of financial management and bookkeeping can help you stay on top of your business finances. Being knowledgeable about these topics will make sure your life coaching business runs smoothly so you can provide for your clients in the best way possible.
What Training or Qualifications Do Life Coaches Need?
From a practical perspective, life coaching requires no special training or qualification. Since coaching is still a largely unregulated profession, anyone can become a life coach without going through any formal training or certification process.
But this relaxed approach to regulating the profession doesn’t mean that anyone can become a life coach without any prep work. Successful life coaching requires a thorough comprehension of the basics and an ability to employ the right methods and techniques when helping clients face their adversities. You can acquire this knowledge through one of the below avenues:
- Pursuing a credentialing program. Certification programs can provide a roadmap to follow and help you internalize the expertise you need while offering a badge of credibility in the marketplace. Some of the most respected certifications come from the International Coaching Federation (ICF) and National Board for Health & Wellness Coaching (NBHWC). Taking the time to earn a credential from one of these bodies will show potential clients that you have the knowledge and skills to provide the best coaching experience.
- Performing self-study. However, if the certification programs don’t work for you or your budget, you can also pick up the must-have life coaching skills by taking online courses, reading relevant books, or talking to other coaches.
Whichever route you take, be sure to invest the time and effort into building up your competencies. After all, your clients entrust you with their most precious asset – their lives. You owe it to them to be thoroughly prepared.
How to get your life coaching practice going?
After gaining the essential skills, knowledge, and credentials to become a life coach, you’ll need to promote your services. Here are some steps you can take to get your life coaching practice off the ground:
Create a website
The first step is to create an attractive, user-friendly website that showcases your credentials, experience, and what makes you unique. You’ll find many inexpensive website-building platforms with drag-and-drop features that make creating a website relatively easy. Your website will serve as the online face of your coaching practice, so make sure it conveys the professionalism, warmth, and trustworthiness you want to project.
Establish your social media presence
In addition to a website, you’ll also need to establish a presence on popular social media platforms like Facebook, Instagram, and LinkedIn. Of course, you don’t need to be on every single platform – just the ones that will help you reach your target audience.
Once you have accounts set up on the major platforms, post regularly and engage with your followers. Share helpful advice, success stories, and experiences that will encourage potential clients to learn more about your services.
Employ QR codes
QR codes, or Quick Response codes, are an efficient and economical way to direct prospective clients to your online presence and bridge the gap between the real and digital worlds. You can place these codes on business cards, flyers, posters, and other marketing materials. Just about any smartphone equipped with a camera can scan these codes, and you can customize each code to open different landing pages depending on marketing needs.
All you need is a QR code generator to create them. A quick search online will give you plenty of free and paid options for you to take your pick from. Choose the one that meets your budget and needs. Then fill in the requested details and generate your codes.
Use marketing automation tools
Take advantage of the many marketing automation tools available to make your marketing funnel more efficient. You’ll find automation tools for everything from managing email campaigns and scheduling social media posts to business text messaging.
But if the thought of coding and new technology makes you uneasy, no need to worry. There’s a growing number of no-code workflow automation tools like Zapier that make it easy to design automated workflows without any programming knowledge or experience. These tools will help you save time and ensure your marketing activities run smoother.
Don’t underestimate the power of good old-fashioned networking. Reach out to your existing contacts and tell them about your life coaching practice. Attend industry events and seminars, join online forums, and get involved in your local small business community.
You can also collaborate with influencers or other professionals in related fields, such as health and wellness coaches, personal trainers, nutritionists, and mindfulness instructors. This is a great way to broaden your network and attract potential clients who might be interested in life coaching.
Hire a marketing agency
Not everyone is tech-savvy or has the time or resources to create and manage their own campaigns. If that’s the case for you, consider hiring a marketing agency specializing in life coaching to help you with the process.
A marketing agency can help you create and manage campaigns tailored to your target audience, analyze data to track the results, and make changes as needed. Just be sure to shop around and interview several different agencies before you decide on one.
Start Your Life Coaching Journey
Establishing a successful life coaching career requires an intimate understanding of the fundamental principles and practices associated with this type of work. Hopefully, this article has given you an idea of what it takes to be a competent and effective life coach. So if you’re ready to take the leap and start your own life coaching business, don’t forget to put into practice the tips and tricks we’ve discussed here.