How I got 12 New Clients by Creating a Coaching Program (and why it was a turning point!)

Happy Coach on phone with New Coaching Clients

How do we 'concretize' coaching? How do we demonstrate the value and power of coaching in a tangible way? Well, in the early days of my one-on-one coaching business, I had a major turning point—when I used coaching tools to create a coaching program that got me 12 clients in just 2 weeks. In this article I share with you how, what and why I think it worked...

I created a Life Coaching Program Outline and Flyer in just one day!

All too often we agonize over making things perfect—which is a great way to avoid taking action...

Remember that once we run something—we usually see new ways to improve it right away. So all you need is something good enough to get you started, because you're going to improve your offering over time anyway!

So, this program literally took me one day to put together.

  • I chose a few tools that I knew clients loved, and then I spent a morning planning and outlining what the program would offer based around these tools.
  • Then I spent the afternoon to create the poster and words.

My first new client signed up that very afternoon! Our mortgage broker stopped in to get some paperwork signed and I had just printed off a few posters. She saw them and said, "Sign me up!". I  didn't believe her at first—until she got her cheque book out...

life coach flyer Image for coaching program

Click to download the original flyer in Microsoft Word!

Why Creating this Coaching Program was a turning point for me

This coaching program (although it had many flaws!) got me 12 new clients in just two weeks.

And when I look at this poster now, it takes me right back to when I was setting my practice up, questioning myself, struggling to describe coaching—and get clients. I was on a tremendous learning curve and kept wondering if it would all (ever) work out.

So, getting 12 new clients was a huge confidence boost for me. Up until this point I had been getting a slow, small and steady stream of clients: I would have 3/4/5/6 one-on-one active clients in my practice at any one time.

But it was launching this program (and getting 12 clients) that made my coaching business finally feel real.

The Overnight Success that took 2 Years...

But although it only took me a morning to outline the program, it was actually the culmination of 2 years of hard work, growing my business.

Here are 5 of the key things I did in the 2 years leading up to my coaching program included:

1) Building a newsletter list

At this point my newsletter list was about 750 people—all of whom I had actually met in person!

  • I had been networking regularly at events my ideal clients would go to.
  • At every networking event I went to, I would talk to people and ask to add them to my newsletter list if there was a connection.

2) I ran a lot of (mostly free) workshops

  • I reached out to local networking groups, regional events that had speakers, local stores that held events, fitness centres and gyms—and more!
  • I based the workshops around coaching tools and forms, so people got an experience and something tangible to take home.
  • And I used my workshop feedback form to get people's permission to email them my newsletter (and stay in touch).

3) I took branded coaching tools AND printed newsletters to every event I attended

  • So, at every event I attended, I would take my coaching tools and printed newsletters and leave them at the back of the room.
  • And at every event most of the forms and newsletters would be taken home by people.

4) I had been sending a regular useful monthly newsletter for about 18 months

  • This was in 2007, before newsletter creation apps like Constant Contact, MailChimp etc. were even a thing.
  • I had been creating a two page newsletter in Microsoft Word, saving it as a .PDF and emailing it out as an attachment, without fail, every month.

5) I had been creating coaching tools for my clients and workshops

  • Lastly, I had been creating coaching tools around common topics and issues I saw both in my workshops and with my clients.
  • So at this point I probably had 30-40 coaching exercises as ideas to help create the coaching program.

Why Create a Coaching Program?

The difficulty I had been having was explaining what coaching was to people. You meet someone. They ask what you do. And when you tell them you're a coach/life coach, they say, "Oh what's that?".

And then I would get so tongue tied or give these long rambling explanations. I was so frustrated!

Because the best way to "explain" coaching is to demonstrate it, for example:

  • giving a great sample session
  • taking people through a coaching exercise
  • or running a workshop or webinar

But first you have to get people interested enough to show up so you can give that demonstration!

The Challenge with Selling (and Describing!) Coaching...

Of course the problem we all have when attempting to describe coaching is that it's not tangible.

Coaching is not something you can touch or see: instead coaching is an experience, a relationship, a process!

Coaching is about transformation. And crucially, the most powerful coaching is a transformation of the mind—how we see things, what we believe is possible, how confident and motivated we feel, what we're willing to do, or try to do... It's about courage, personal growth, getting to know ourselves deeply—and aligning our relationships, lives and actions with who we truly are.

How can you describe that to someone you meet on the street?

So it was all about Concretizing Coaching!

The day I created the coaching program I had thought: OK, I'll just create a transformational coaching program using my coaching exercises—at least they're 'concrete'!

And then, when someone asks what I do, I can tell them that:

  • I run a coaching program that helps people get happier and embrace life.
  • We have coaching sessions and homework to explore what they want from life, what's getting in the way.
  • The goal is to come up with a set of powerful goals to create a life they love and work on that together (Life Visioning Exercises).
  • We'll look at what drains their energy (Energy Zappers Tool), create some new positive habits (Daily Success Habits Tool), look at who is draining them (Detox Your Relationships) etc.

Suddenly, it felt easy!

So, I gave myself a morning thinking—and listening to my intuition—to answer the questions: What do my ideal clients need help with? What would I put in a coaching program for them?

How to Create a Coaching Program

Here's the process I followed to create my very first coaching program:

  1. I sat down and thought about the problems and goals my clients and contacts tended to have and made two lists:
    • Common goals
    • Common issues, problems and blocks to achieving their goals
  2. Then I considered what activities we could practically do that would help.
    • I made a list of the coaching tools and exercises I'd already created that could be useful.
    • I thought about the processes, quotes and nuggets of wisdom (reframes) I could potentially share that would help.
  3. Next I wrote a bulleted list of steps we could work on that would help people with these problems and goals.
    • I chose 9 steps as I worked with my clients for the first 3 weeks of every month (the 4th week of every month I spent working ON my business, and clients had space to work on larger actions or reflect).
    • So 9 steps meant this would be a 3 month coaching or 12 week coaching program!
  4. I came up with an overarching theme for the coaching program.
    • My program was about identifying what you don't like in your life, finding your vision, connecting with your strengths, learning where you get in your own way and taking action to move towards a more exciting version of your own life.
    • I realised that most of the time people were unhappy because didn't know (or were too busy to see) what they truly wanted or got them excited about life.
    • So my program was about getting happier and connecting to and getting to know yourself!
  5. Then for each of the 9 bulleted steps I decided on 1-2 practical things we could do.
    • This meant choosing specific coaching exercises, ideas or processes that I could share with them.

And now that I had concrete exercises and steps, it made it super-easy for me to be confident when I talked about what I did... Because all I had to do was explain my coaching program to potential clients.

Finally: Name and Price the Coaching Program!

  1. I chose a name.
    • I know people felt trapped in their existing lives, not realising they had more power than they realised to change things!
    • So I decided to call the program, Free Yourself and Get Happy!
  2. I chose a price.
    • I gave this program a special promotional price of $195 monthly (for 3 sessions a month).
    • I wanted a price point that I thought was a fabulous deal, so that I would be utterly confident in the value that I offered.
    • Check out this article for ideas on how to decide what to charge for a coaching program >>
TOP TIP: Any time you offer a fabulous price, always have a good "reason" so that people understand why the price is lower than they might expect. This way you maintain your "value" while offering a price that's easy for people to like!

Here's our Coaching Program in a box: the popular Renew You, Love Your Life!

Why offer such a low/fabulous price?

Well, the 'catch' (my reason for the special price) was that:

  • It was the first time running it, so I wanted feedback so I could improve the program.
  • I asked for a time commitment of 6 months (3 months of the program, followed by 3 months of follow-on coaching at the same price).
  • And I wanted a testimonial if they liked what we did together.

And it worked!

The important thing is to make sure that the "catch" or reason you offer such a great price is highly beneficial to you.

Here are the benefits I received from my "low" price and the "catch":

  • Some of those clients stayed a lot longer than 6 months.
  • Some clients told their friends and colleagues, so I got new clients.
  • I got some awesome testimonials—in fact I still use some of those testimonials to this day!
  • And I got helpful feedback so that I could improve the program—and raise the price later.

But there was one benefit I wasn't expecting!

  • Finally, possibly the most important benefit of this coaching program was the boost it gave to my confidence both as a coach and as a small business owner.

It was a Success, yet this Coaching Program had Many Flaws!

The coaching program was far from perfect.

Now that I have more experience here's what I would do differently:

  • Make the program simpler (I included far too many coaching exercises when I was planning it).
  • Make the program more specific to a particular problem, goal or issue.
  • Be ready with a specific follow-on offer or next steps program.

But this program—as it was—got me 12 new clients and left me feeling proud and confident for the first time in a long while!

For more ideas, listen to this teleseminar I did for Noomii.com: Beat the Coaching Obstacle Course: Practical Business Building Tips with Emma-Louise Elsey

So, why did so many people sign up for this Coaching Program?

Here's why I think this Coaching Program worked so well:

  • At last I could clearly and confidently describe what I do!
  • My excitement and enthusiasm were infectious. I truly believed in what I was offering and knew these clients would learn a lot about themselves in my program.
  • I gave my program an inspiring title that would appeal to my audience (even thought it was a bit grandiose and vague!).
  • The timing and topic aligned well. It was spring and people were ready for a sunny "Free Yourself!" type of program.
  • The special deal price was great (and knowing it was a really good deal, helped me talk about it without embarrassment).
  • I listed the topics and exercises as clear steps that people could imagine doing. The client understood what they were going to get from working with me.
  • I put a fixed timeframe on the program. This means the coaching was not some uncertain, going-on-for-years activity.

So, we have excitement, enthusiasm and confidence from me.

And clear and relevant topics, good timing, great pricing and a time limited commitment for the clients.

What else did I do to get those clients?

Of course it didn't all happen magically. Just some of what I did to get those 12 clients to sign-up included:

  • I printed and put the poster up around town (in coffee shops, local gyms, stores, dentist and doctor's offices etc).
    • Sometimes this means going into places and asking if you can leave the poster or put it up somewhere—I got many more "No"s than "Yes"s.
  • I put it in my newsletter. This is where most of the coaching program sign-ups came from—people who already know and follow me.
  • I emailed my contacts, and asked them to let anyone know who they thought might be interested.
  • I told friends and people I met about my new coaching program.
  • Lastly I put it on my website.

So, it was a lot of work!

But it was totally worth it to get 12 brand new clients in under 2 weeks don't you think?

And this was before I was even on any Social Media channels! So there was no Facebook, no Instagram etc.

And yet, not as much work as it could have been...

I didn't spend days creating a detailed, rigid program that gave my clients all the answers. I just created a simple framework that told people what I would do with them to move them towards their goals and solve problems they might have.

I still coached people towards their self-defined goals. I still 'danced in the moment' during our sessions. But the program's steps gave us a focus—which took the pressure (to perform) off me, and gave my clients something concrete to picture themselves doing.

This is how the Renew You, Love Your Life Coaching Program was born!

Our Renew You, Love Your Life! Coaching Program Template is a 12 week coaching program developed out of the original Free Yourself & Get Happy! program.

"Renew You" is the ultimate expression of this original 12 week coaching program:

  • We begin by identifying goals for the client and the client works towards their goals over the 3 month period.
  • Then we do some fun and deep coaching exercises each week as homework.
  • The client takes action towards their goals and meaningful change in their lives.

Learn more about Renew You, Love Your Life! here:

You could also create your own Coaching Program!

Especially when you're starting out, a coaching program is immensely helpful to help you clearly and confidently describe what you do in a way that people will understand. It's a client journey that you can explain, feel good talking about and use to market yourself and get some new clients!

Here are some free resources to help you get ideas for your own coaching program:

PLEASE NOTE: I haven't updated these documents since I used them in 2007. So they are intended for inspiration, not as a template for you to use. However, you have my full permission to use as much or as little of the wording or documents as you like in creating your own coaching program!

Changes I recommend you make to this poster/promotion

  • I would recommend listing only 5-7 areas where you will work with people.
  • Come up with your own program name that addresses a specific problem or goal your ideal clients have.
  • Pick colours, images and wording that ties in with your business.
  • Include how your clients will feel once they're completed your coaching program!

Wrap-up

So there you have it: an "overnight success" that took 18 months+ of hard work! And all of it done without Social Media.

In particular, I think working hard to build a small (750 people), but personal newsletter list was an important part of my success. That, and creating a regular monthly newsletter that was helpful and interesting. And sending that newsletter every month without fail, builds trust.

So I hope coaching program tips, examples and ideas are helpful. And I wish you the very best with growing your coaching practice.

If you liked this article about creating your own coaching program to get clients you may also like:

Emma-Louise Elsey Headshot

Contributing Author:

Emma-Louise Elsey has been coaching since 2003 and is the Founder of The Coaching Tools Company and Fierce Kindness.com. She's passionate about coaching and personal development. Originally a project and relationship manager for Fortune 500 companies she combined her love of coaching, creativity and systems to create over 100 brandable coaching tools, forms and exercises including 30+ completely free coaching tools. She now serves coaches and the coaching world through her exclusive newsletter for coaches, Coaches Helping Coaches Facebook Group and many other great tools for coaches, plus resources and ideas for your coaching toolbox. The Coaching Tools Company is an official ICF Business Solutions Partner.

Learn more about Emma-Louise & see all their articles here >>

39 Comments

  1. Rhona Morris

    Hi Emma Louise

    What a great article! Some brilliant thinking and very practical advice! I loved the fact you described your early experiences of coaching so honestly and shared your original program details and the valuable insights you gained in hindsight.

    Trying to put coaching into words can be a stumbling block and having a "product" to sell rather than just ourselves provides so much more clarity about what we do, for everyone!

    Thanks so much, you're doing a fabulous job!

    Warm wishes
    Rhona x

    Reply
    • Emma-Louise

      Thanks Rhona! Coaching can be a tough business to get started in... And a lack of confidence makes a HUGE dent in our ability to be successful! Glad you found it interesting. Warmly, EL

      Reply
  2. Steffi Black

    Thank you for such a clear and concise article..inspired me to get a new program for spring in the works!
    Thank you for taking the time to share tips.

    Reply
  3. Nicole

    Hi Emma-Louise,
    Thank you so much for this article. I love the idea and plan to make a program of my own. Can you tell us where you find some of your homework activities? Many of them sound interesting and might be helpful with my clients as well.

    Reply
  4. Lalitha Brahma

    Hi Emma

    Thanks a lot for providing resources.
    1. I am not a certified coach, but my clients give me feedback that makes me feel that I am doing the work of a coach, but not considering it as a revenue stream and adding to my business. I have over 17 years of experience in management position in banking and Immigration. I transitioned to self employment/entrepreneur in 2002. I do have the ability to help a person think beyond their barriers and act on their possibilities.
    2. I am very passionate about helping
    a) employees transition to entrepreneur.
    b) Women going through changes in careers/relocation.

    I want to start off by coaching one person and getting paid. Can you suggest the resources that I can use/buy from your website to coach one person first and see for my self, if that is what I really want to do.

    Thanks again!
    Lalitha

    Reply
  5. Sirli

    Hi Emma-Louise!

    It is incredible how one can think in such complex ways! I'm talking about myself here! 😀 I'm just currently putting together 7 weeks e-course to sell and to take the focus off myself and put it more in what I do and what are the results my clients will get.

    Your article though was an eye opener for me. I just realised that can use the same outline that I've put together already "7 steps to your dream" which has 7 different topics and coach my clients around that same framework in 1-1 sessions!

    How brilliant is that! 🙂

    So thank you for sharing this article and inspiring me!
    Sirli

    Reply
  6. Lillian Courtney

    Hi Emma Louise,
    Many thanks for that amazing article. I am a Certified Business & Life Coach with affiliation with the ICF just setting on on building my coaching Business here in Ireland.I have completed 3 seminars as to date but wanted to send around flyers. I was going to put more information ref my credits etc but now realise that would be on my fb ,Twitter ,Linkendin accounts. My Website is under construction therefore I just am going to order a minimum amount as I am taking a stand at a charity ball on Thursday .
    Many Thanks
    Lillian
    Lillian Courtney Coaching.

    Reply
    • Emma-Louise

      Thanks Lilian! I am so glad you found the article helpful - and thank-you for taking the time to comment. Enjoy your stand at the charity ball! Warmly, Emma-Louise

      Reply
  7. Maureen

    Thank you Lillian, I've only just "discovered" you but I am so grateful to you for sharing your early adventures and how you made that first programme. I have only just become Certified and have been trying to work out how to go about making a programme for those elusive first clients and then onwards and this gives the template so I can formulate what I need to do, I just didn't have a clue and now i can dive right in, a thousand thank you's of gratitude

    I need to do the foor slogging round of Naturopaths, beauty salons and the like to drum up some potential clients and so become the coach I envision becoming.

    Maureen Quantum Leaps life Coaching

    Reply
  8. Bridgett Tulloh

    Thank you for this. Is this an offering you did at your office space? I'm at the point where I'm trying to find space to rent and am wondering about the feasibility of online versions of this for meeting with groups.

    Sorry for such a simplistic question, but I just wondered… Where do coaches actually meet their groups?? Thanks! Bridgett

    Reply
    • Emma-Louise

      Hi Bridgett, the simplest questions are often the best! When I started out I ran this program one-on-one with my clients over the phone. If I was doing it as a workshop, if you have enough space at home, yes you could do it in your office space or home. 4-6 people could be a nice intimate group. And if you want to do a larger group, a comfortable space that has a good feeling. You could think creatively - I used an art gallery for some retreats, have used library rooms (if they feel cosy/classy), yoga/exercise studios for a few examples. If you're going to offer a program online - it's still about the environment. But this time you CREATE the comfortable environment / space online. Sharing, warmth, space for people to get to know each other. I hope that helps. Warmly, Emma-Louise

      Reply
  9. Nicky

    Wow! Thank tou so much for this! I have tons of ideas for clients- once I get them! And this has reqlly helped me frame my work and give me a storng direction to work along. I have many ideas for workshops which is my aim but getting clients is hpwhat I need to run them! Big thank you for sharing. Totoally inspired byt this and the whole website, the Universe has answered my prayers!

    Reply
    • Emma-Louise

      Hi Nicky! Thanks for commenting - and so glad you found this article helpful! It takes time to build a business, loyal clientele etc. A coaching business is no different. But get out there and start running workshops, make authentic connection with people and over time you'll get a great following! Good luck and keep up all your good work. Warmly, Emma-Louise

      Reply
  10. Leah Delos Reyes

    This is a great site! Lots of helpful information here. May I ask permission to use your template?

    Reply
    • Emma-Louise

      Dear Leah,

      First, thank-you for your email and kind words! So, I'm not sure which template - but if you mean the poster or word document outline linked to on that page - then yes. Please use these as templates! Warmly, Emma-Louise

      Reply
  11. Joe Ranieri

    Hello:

    Thank you so much for the helpful article. My question is where around town did you put your flyers....how did you go about distributing them etc. I'm thinking of creating my own flyers but I'm not sure how to go about distributing them around the city? Thank you.

    Joe

    Reply
    • Emma-Louise

      Hi Joe, I put my flyers up in coffee shops, on notice boards like the health food store and at the gym. Think about where your target market hang out - and put up flyers/ask if you can leave flyers there.
      Other ideas include the doctor's surgery and dentist for example. But do ask for permission.
      Hopefullly that gives you some ideas 🙂 Warmly, Emma-Louise

      Reply
  12. Robin

    Hey Emma-Louise,

    Very useful and needful article you shared!! Really I feel motivated and wish to have my own coaching program 🙂 Thank you and keep posting.

    Reply
  13. Lori Carnale

    Hi Emma-Louise,

    Thank you for sharing your article and life coaching program. The customized coaching program is a terrific idea and can easily be tailored to various types of coaching strategies. Your easy to follow and articulate framework will be of help to many aspiring life coaches.

    Wishing you continued success.

    Lori

    Reply
  14. Emma Nunn

    What a great article. Thank you.

    Just what i need to see. So helpful

    Reply
    • peyushbhatia

      Peyush Bhatia specializes in life coaching and career coaching, Book a free consultation with a coach in Hyderabad, Delhi, India, Mumbai, and Bangalore.

      Reply
  15. peyushbhatia

    Peyush Bhatia specializes in life coaching and career coaching, Book a free consultation with a coach in Hyderabad, Delhi, India, Mumbai, and Bangalore.

    Reply
  16. Yagnesh Bhatt

    Hi Emma: I enjoyed reading your article. I need help and guidance from you.

    I have recently completed my Coach certification. I am a HR professional with over 20 years of experience. Since 2018, I have been in a transition from my job to working as an independent HR consultant but the flow of work is not at all financially rewarding. Worst happened due to the pandemic since March 2020 resulting in the lockdown. I never had imagined myself to be on my own and I am struggling to get assignments for work. I am located in Mumbai, India

    I am now looking for coaching assignments. Being an introvert person I do not have a very big social visibility. And I realize that I need to make my presence felt in sites like LinkedIn.

    How do I attract people to seek coaching from me?

    Reply
    • Michela Phillips

      You are most welcome, Shubham! So glad you enjoyed the article.
      - Kindly, Michela

      Reply
    • Emma-Louise

      Hi Lori, thank-you for commenting! 🙂 So, this was a while ago - before Zoom! So it was telephone coaching, and a couple of those clients were in person.
      It's funny in those days (all of 15 or so years ago!), many people wanted to be in person and thought telephone coaching a bit odd. Now video is the norm! Warmly, Emma-Louise

      Reply
  17. Abs

    Hi Emma,
    Just reading through this again and it is still so inspirational. It was your coaching program that got me started with group coaching and I'm eternally grateful for the way I'm able to impact lives.
    In the template you provided, one of the activities is 'NLP Visualisation'. I'm wondering if you can share more on this? I've used a bit of NLP and found it to be so impactful.
    Thanks for all you do!

    Reply
    • Emma-Louise

      Hi Abs,
      Thank-you for your comment! And it's lovely to hear that it was our program that got you started group coaching!
      So, I did some digging around, and I found this explanatory note on the NLP Visualisation: "Build the dream/describe ideal life/situation"
      I think this could relate to an NLP technique called "Success Rehearsal" or "The Movie Technique" where you visualise yourself (using all 5 senses, perhaps imagining a day in the life) when you have completed your key goals.

      I also found some notes: NLP Visualisation – Value Based Self-Image (which is the name of a specific NLP tool).

      I hope this helps!

      Reply
  18. David Poole

    You wrote this "It was the first time running it, so I wanted feedback so I could improve the program."
    And that's such a valid point, not just for improving the service, but also for upselling and working out what you can increase your price to.

    Thanks for sharing

    Reply
  19. Michael Vincent

    I must say I think this is a fantastic article and has given a great insight into the thought processes and the person behind the journey.

    As a business coach and an executive coach I have found this site very useful indeed.

    Keep up the great work Emma-Louise

    Kind regards,

    Michael

    Reply

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