8 Essential Technologies for Your Online Coaching Business
Publishing Note: This article was originally published in Nov 2013. But some of the technologies I mentioned back then have evolved and I have a few new suggestions. I updated the article in May 2017 (and removed a few “!” which I have a tendency to overuse because I’m genuinely excited about everything all the time).
If you want a coaching business that attracts customers from all over the world, sells your coaching products online, and manages all your clients online…you need a plan. AND that means a handful of different technologies.
There is so much to consider when you get started, the job can seem complex, convoluted and totally overwhelming.
Fortunately, each technology is easy enough to use, in it’s own right. And when you step back and break it down into it’s component parts, you can see that there are about eight basic ingredients or building blocks that you really need to get started.
Here is a little information about each one…
1. Domain Name
Your domain name is your website address. Basically, you need a web address to direct people to before you can do very much online activity (like promoting and selling your products).
I happen to have several domain names for my coaching business but this is only because I’ve been around for a while and seem to collect domain names like some women collect shoes!
All you really need to get started is just one domain name. Find something simple and buy it. A domain name should cost around $15 each year.
Bricks and Mortar Analogy: Your store’s physical address
2. Hosting Provider
Your hosting provider is the company that stores your website on their server. Most hosting providers also can also set you up with an email address with your domain name (mentioned above), so be sure to have that done. A professional looking email address beats a Gmail address any day!
Be prepared to spend about $5 a month for a basic hosting package.
Bricks and Mortar Analogy: Your utilities (like electricity and water!)
3. Website Content Management System (CMS)
Your website content management system is a framework that sits behind your website that enables you to easily manage your web pages and blog articles by yourself. You may want a technical person to help you set everything up but once it’s up, you can take over on the basic content update stuff.
Most content management systems come with few free themes that you can use straight away. Themes are basically templates for the graphic design of your website with a few options you can tweak to make it uniquely yours e.g. colors, images and layout options.
Free themes can be a good low cost option for coaches who want a website but are starting out on a small budget. FYI – I got my start using the a basic, free WordPress theme.
If you have more money to invest in your website you can:
- Buy a more advanced theme for your content management system (I’m currently using the Divi theme from these guys – check out these cool themes!)
- Hire a graphic designer to create a custom design that sits on top of your content management system
The good news is that when you have a content management system running your website, changing the design is a relatively simple job. It’s like changing your outfit while the content underneath the clothes remains the same.
Interested in earning passive income?
If you want to add a passive income stream to your coaching business, a good way to start is by selling your own information products (e.g. ebooks and workbooks, tool kits, templates, etc.) from a shop on your website.
Nothing beats waking up to new sales (OK- maybe a few things beat it but passive income is pretty high on the list)!
If you are using WordPress for your content management system, you can choose from a range of “shop” plug-ins. Your shop plug-in will enable you to create pages for each product, link “buy” buttons to your payment gateway (see next step), and enable your customers to get a copy of your information product.
Bricks and Mortar Analogy: Your store front
Check out: WordPress – I use to list other content management systems here, but in my view, WordPress is the absolute best right now. It’s easy to find talented people to help, there are tons of free tutorials online and heaps of plugins you can add on to get really cool features working on your site fast and usually at a low cost. WordPress is the way to go!
If you are looking for a proven, guided approach to creating your own coaching products and getting them online, check out my Next Generation Product Development (for Coaches) program. It’s a self-study online course, you can complete at your own pace. You can upgrade to receive one-on-one coaching if and when you need it.
4. Online Marketing Service
In it’s most basic form your online marketing service enables you to capture people’s names and email addresses from your website and then send out emails to all of your subscribers. Basically, you grab all the non-buyers who visit your website and covert them to clients over time (provided you are a good fit).
You may be tempted to skip this component but I strongly recommend that you resist the urge and get your online marketing service set up ASAP.
For around $10-$30 a month you can start building your email list and start getting your head around the concept of online marketing. If you want to reach a global market and sell products online, this is an essential learning curve you absolutely must go through. The sooner you get through it the better and you get the added benefit of collecting email subscribers as you learn – BONUS!
The investment will be well worth it because your email list will enable you to build lasting relationships with people you would never otherwise have had the opportunity to connect with. It’s pure awesomeness.
Plus, when you treat your subscribers well, in a way that is congruent with you, some of your subscribers will grow to become your biggest fans and supporters. They will genuinely want to know about your new products and services, will buy them AND they look forward to hearing from you.
Here’s how to get started:
- Subscribe to one of the email marketing services listed below.
- Add an email subscription box to your website.
- Start collecting email addresses!
Bricks and Mortar Analogy: Your shop attendant/Sales person
5. Client Management System
I use Life Coach Office to manage my clients online. The system keeps all of my client files in one place (that travels with me) and also helps me organize and deliver my online coaching programs. It’s easy to use and affordable. A great enabler for small to medium sized coaching businesses.
Bricks and Mortar Analogy: Your coaching office where you meet clients including your filing cabinet and book shelf
Check out: Life Coach Office
6. Payment Gateway
To sell online you need a way to collect money online. The quickest and easiest way to collect money online is through PayPal or Stripe. Simply set up an account, link it with your online shop and start selling.
Bricks and Mortar Analogy: Your cash register
7. Paid Online Advertising
Paid online advertising is a great way to drive new traffic to your website and hopefully get people to join your email list (see #4). Paid advertising often gets poo-pooed, because it costs money, but I’ve found it highly effective in my coaching business.
In fact, when I recently surveyed my buyers, 90% of them found me from a Google Ad!
Sure, there are free things that I can do to promote my business online but those things cost me time – my number one most valued asset. For me, paid advertising costs a few dollars, little time and my return on investment has been fantastic. I’m a convert – I love it.
Bricks and Mortar Analogy: Targeted mail-out campaign
Check out: Google Adwords – I use to have Facebook Ads here but I’ve removed it. I have tried Facebook Ads a few times over the years and OK, I get some “likes” but Google gets me sales!
8. Social Media
You are probably familiar with social media – sites like Facebook, Twitter, Linkedin, Pintrest, etc. Well, here is my take on social media…
When done in a way that genuinely adds value to people’s lives and that is congruent with you, and you enjoy it, social media is a great way to connect with people and drive new traffic to your website. BUT, if you are doing it just because everyone else is, then STOP!
If you are keen to give social media a try then, focus on doing one area of social media well. When you’ve got the first one down then, and only then, add in another one – and that’s only if you want to AND have capacity to do an amazing job of it.
This approach will help you stay focused on delivering value to your prospects and customers (the best promotion you can do). And hopefully avoid getting tangled in the web of the latest and greatest social media craze.
Bricks and Mortar Analogy: Fan club
These Ingredients Can Take You a Long Way
With these essential ingredients you can go quite far with your coaching business. But, like all things, you have to get started! 🙂
It is my hope and intention that this list helps remove some of the overwhelm that you may have been feeling about how to sell your own coaching products online, and instead, inspires you to take the right first steps.
My advice is this – just focus on one step at a time. I’ve written this post pretty much in the order you need them. When you’ve finished or mostly finished the first step, move on to the second. Once you’ve finished the second, move on to the third and so on.
Everything is easy when you take it in the right order at the right chunk size.
NOTE: In this article we have given examples of systems that we use as well as systems that have been used by our clients. To help you focus and keep moving forward, our recommendations are intentionally limited to just a few. There are plenty more options out there though, so if none of our suggestions meet your needs, please keep looking – and leave us a comment if you find something amazing. By the way, we are not formally affiliated with any of the companies in this article.