Because coaching is expensive, personal, and requires trust, it’s unlikely that a random client will see your website and immediately sign up for services. They need to get to know you first.
And this is a good thing! There are some people I’m not a good coach for because our personalities and approaches don’t mesh well. Getting to know each other before we both make a big commitment of time and energy is crucial.
Here are a couple of approaches that can give potential clients a sense of what you’re like as a coach without having to go all in right away:
- Offer or participate in small group experiences. These can be classes or workshops but don’t have to be. I’ve attended writers’ groups and hosted accountability groups as a way to get to know potential clients. In the Before Times, I went to a session on adding the five senses to your writing where the instructor led us in relaxation techniques, then had us stimulate various senses, such as by stroking a feather on our arms, or eating a strawberry, then meditating on the experience and recording our impressions in a journal. I loved this! If I had needed coaching, I would have approached the instructor. And I know she’d make a great coach to refer clients to when I can’t help.
- Create an opportunity for a small investment first. For example, you could offer a one-hour phone or Zoom session to solve a specific problem authors commonly deal with. In this scenario, the client is only committing to an hour and the coaching isn’t open-ended. If the coaching session goes well, you can follow up with the author regarding further coaching possibilities. If it doesn’t go well, that’s not the end of the world – the approach did what it was supposed to do, let you and the client get to know each other before making a big committment. I started tacking a one-hour phone consultation onto my developmental edits as a way to introduce people to coaching possibilities and it helped them understand what they could get from coaching that they can’t get from a plain vanilla developmental edit.
- Donate to a charitable cause. This one I haven’t personally used but I know other coaches have done it to good success. They donate their pay to a charity, with the marketing message being, “Book today, and the fee goes to EXCELLENT CHARITABLE CAUSE.” That gives people a chance to work with you without risk (in the end, the donation will do good no matter how terrible the coaching session is) but you are not habituating clients to free stuff. They are still paying.