Today’s episode is really straightforward. I’m going through each type of coaching style and container, and I’m showing you why you might consider choosing it, why you might not, and all of the information in my brain around this subject, so you can compare and contrast and make an informed decision.
Tune in this week to discover all of the different coaching containers you can use in your business. I’m sharing the pros and cons of programs, masterminds, one-to-one coaching, groups, and courses, and I’m showing you how you can make use of the space in between all of these different containers.
Hi, this is Lindsay Dotzlaf and you are listening to Mastering Coaching Skills, episode 88.
To really compete in the coaching industry, you have to be great at coaching. That’s why every week, I will be answering your questions, sharing my stories, and offering tips and advice so you can be the best at what you do. Let’s get to work.
Hey coach, today I want to talk about something that I get asked about a lot, which is what are all of the different types of coaching and which one is right for me? And when I say different types of coaching, that could be interpreted several ways, but what I’m going to talk about today is different structures for your coaching offer, like how you coach your clients, the container that you use.
So, I’m going to tell you the different kinds and then I’m going to go through kind of why you would pick that one, what is great about that one, what are the skills you want to have when you are choosing that one, what are maybe the drawbacks for some people. Just kind of compare and contrast and give you all of the information out of my brain when it comes to this.
Now, I want to be very clear up front that this is just in my experience. At this point I’ve worked with thousands of coaches, so I would say I do have quite a bit of experience, and I’ve been in a bunch of programs where there are lots of other coaches and lots of coach trainings where I’ve just witnessed all the examples.
So I do have a pretty large sample that I’ve drawn from to come to these conclusions. But that being said there, I’m positive, things outside of what I’m about to say that could also be considered containers to work with clients. And there can also be hybrids of what I’m about to say. So I’m going to give you definitions of very specific things and really break them up into different groups, but just know there’s also space for having somethings in between.
So what I mean by this is I’m going to be talking about one-on-one coaching versus group couching/masterminding versus having a program and a few other things. But just because I talk about one-on-one coaching and I talk about group coaching, doesn’t mean that you might not have something in the middle which might be a hybrid where you’re meeting a couple times a month as a group and then you’re doing one one-on-one coaching with your clients.
I do know a lot of times in my mastermind I have clients who have offers that are structured something like that where it’s in between. But to keep it simple today I’m going to just kind of go through each specific kind and just dive in a little to them, what the different offers take as far as your coaching and what they might entail as far as your time, where you put your effort and all of that. Good? Great. Let’s dive in.
So, the first type of coaching I’m going to talk about is one to one coaching. And when I say one to one coaching what I mean by that is you are working with your clients one at a time. You are meeting with them regularly in a certain increment for a certain amount of time. In my world, a very common structure of that might look like I’m going to coach you for six months, we’re going to meet every Tuesday at noon, one-on-one, either over the phone or on Zoom and that is the structure of our coaching.
Some reasons that you might really be drawn to this and some skills that you’ll want to have when you’re a one-on-one coach. So one-on-one coaching I love, and of course I’m going to say there is no right or wrong here, but I love for new coaches, if they ask my opinion, to start with one-on-one coaching, mostly because of this first reason I’m about to say, which is it’s much more forgiving for the coach.
And what I mean by that is you can be a new coach, you can be a little slower, you can really take your time to think through what your client is saying and really think about the way you are coaching and you are articulating your coaching. And because you’re usually higher touch and with your client for a longer period of time than you would be if you’re if you were coaching them in a different structure it just allows the coaching to move a little slower while still creating results that are very powerful.
Now, if you’ve been a coach for a while and you are a one-on-one coach, sometimes people just love, sometimes coaches really resonate with that coaching style and they want to do it forever. I used to say that until I created my group. And I’ll give you some reasons of when you might know it’s time to move on or add a different offer.
And the concept of it being more forgiving, what I don’t mean by that is that you can just kind of skate by or not really care if your clients are getting results. Usually you have actually a little more awareness of what is happening with your client, the exact results that they’re getting. And because you have that high touch, you’re talking with them every week.
Some other benefits of one-on-one coaching, again, especially for newer coaches, you just get more individual time with your clients. You get to really spend a lot of time with them be very involved in what it is that they are creating, you get to celebrate with them, you get to celebrate for yourself and feel how powerful your coaching is. And you just really get to focus, you get to spend that time, however long it is, half an hour, 45 minutes, an hour, really focused on just that one client with no other distractions besides maybe your thoughts.
The other thing from a just marketing and selling standpoint, you don’t have to have a big audience to sell one-on-one coaching. So if you want to market organically, my definition of that would just be like not paying for any type of ads. So organically would just be like maybe showing up in your life and on social media and just places where you already are talking about what you do. And one-on-one coaching is a fairly, I hesitate to say easy because I’m sure some of you are like, “It’s not easy.”
But it’s an easier way to sell coaching organically because you don’t have to create a lot of sales at once. You can sign one client this week, one client the next week, a couple of clients next month, and it’s just here and there. You have to be consistent as usual but you don’t have to call in a large number of people all at the same time, which also is why it lends itself to newer coaches.
The other thing about selling one-on-one coaching is that you don’t have to be niched. It doesn’t make it easier to have a specific niche to sell one-on-one coaching, you can just talk about coaching in general in an organic way. And then your clients come to you and you could be literally coaching every client on something different.
The drawbacks to one-on-one coaching, of course, are that it’s a lot of hours of coaching throughout your week. Now, the good thing about this is you’re getting tons of practice which is, again, why I love people to start with one-on-one coaching, because you’re getting so much practice coaching, right?
Like literally, if you’re a full-time coach that has maybe 20 or so clients a week, that’s around 20 hours of coaching where you are just practicing coaching every week. And that’s a lot because you’re also running, most of you, if you’re working for yourself, you’re also running a business.
Now, the one drawback to one-on-one coaching is it isn’t very scalable. And so when I say scalable, just to be clear, yes, you can make more and more money with one-on-one coaching. But the way you’re going to do it doesn’t really decrease the amount of time you’re spending coaching. You might still be spending the same amount of time coaching and then just raising your prices. That isn’t isn’t necessarily scaling.
Scaling is like how can I help more people create better results with less of my one-on-one attention and time? So one-on-one coaching, obviously, under that definition is only scalable to a certain point. You can raise your prices, you can keep raising your prices. I know some coaches who charge lots of money for one-on-one coaching. And that’s fine, there’s nothing wrong with that, it just isn’t scalable depending on the impact you want to have and how many clients you would love to be working with at a time.
The second type of coaching structure that I’m going to talk about is group coaching or a mastermind. So real quick, I’m going to give you my definition of the difference between group coaching, which is what most people sell, even when they’re calling it a mastermind, versus a mastermind.
And again, this is just my definition, but I think of group coaching as I am the coach, I’m bringing a group of my clients together. I’m the one doing most of the coaching, most of the teaching, and they are all students. A mastermind is I’m bringing a group of experts together and we are kind of all experts, we are all coaching, we’re all teaching, we’re all learning from each other. We are putting our minds together to create something bigger than kind of what we are.
So no big deal, a lot of coaches do get those two things mixed up. So I’ll give you an example. I’ve heard before people say like I have a weight loss mastermind, that’s not usually a thing. Usually that would be like a weight loss group coaching because you’re the coach, you’re the weight loss coach and you have a group of clients who you’re coming together, you’re coaching them all at the same time.
If it was a weight loss mastermind, everyone would be giving their input, like their different ways of losing weight, their different ways of doing everything. Like everyone there as an expert and everyone is sharing and learning from each other.
So those are just my quick definitions. So when it comes to, from this point forward I’m just going to call it group coaching. So when it comes to group coaching, one thing that is great about group coaching is that it does take less of your time. And I’m going to say that with a very strong caveat next to it. It takes less of your time because you can coach a bunch of clients at the same time.
Now, the caveat next to that is it also takes quite a bit or can, I should say, take quite a bit of time outside of the group. So it’s not normally you know, let’s say if you have 20 one to one clients and that’s like 20 hours of coaching a week, and you think, “Okay, what would be great is if I just created a group for this, I put them all in one. Now I just have one hour of coaching a week, one hour of coaching, teaching, and then maybe a little bit outside of that involved in whatever if there’s a community aspect to it.”
But there is also a lot of time, so it’s really shifting your time from being on those coaching calls, being one-on-one with your clients, to just spending that one hour or few hours a week with your clients but then doing a lot more work outside of it on your own really creating your own concepts, creating the group experience, right? Like working through what am I teaching this week? What are we going over this week? What is my process of this program, or this group coaching?
All of that, that can take a lot more time than you expect. And there’s just a different way, a little bit of a different way that you’re selling group coaching, which can also take more time just in different ways.
Another thing I love about group coaching is that, and this could be a marker as to how do you know if you’re ready to move into group coaching? First of all, for a group it is a little more important to have a more specific niche, or at least have a general idea or common thing that everyone is working on.
So that could be anywhere from a very specific niche to a very specific concept that everyone is working on but maybe using it for different things. When you are working with one-on-one clients and you start to notice that you’re saying the same thing over and over to your clients, you’re teaching them the same things, you’re coaching them on the same things over and over and over, this is when you can kind of start to notice, okay, maybe it is time to think about a group, if that’s something that I’m wanting to do in my coaching practice.
And I will say, let’s just pause right here for a second and say that you could be a one-on-one coach forever. So this is not like, of course this is the natural progression. Some coaches I know work full time and they just love coaching and they coach part time and they have five clients and that is what they do. And that is what they will have forever. And they love it and they want nothing outside of that. That’s perfect.
Some clients that I work with have never had one-on-one clients, they started from day one with a group and that’s what they’ve always had and they love it and that works for them. Right? So I do just kind of want to throw that in thereof I want to be very clear I don’t have a preference of like this is how everyone should do it. I’m just sharing kind of my experience and what I see a lot of coaches doing.
Another amazing thing about group coaching can be the community aspect. So some niches lend themselves very well to a community aspect. Some niches are perfect for having groups of people come together so they have that proof of concept of, oh, these other people are doing this, I can too. Or just creating friendships, creating community, creating belonging that some people love in order to reach their goals. That can be something that’s amazing about group coaching.
One thing that is a little trickier from a coaching perspective, like some skills that it takes to run a group versus just coaching one-on-one is the coaching is a little different, right? So let’s say you have a group of 10 people, they’re coming together every week for group coaching and you’re the coach. A couple of things that you have to be able to do, one, hold the space for the whole group.
So in a one-on-one coaching environment it’s just you with your client, some things come up that you as the coach you might have thoughts about, it’s a lot easier to kind of work through that in a one-on-one session versus in a group session. Especially if you’re on Zoom, especially if you can see all the other faces watching you while you coach this one person. There is a lot more holding space for just everything, not just the one person that you’re coaching, but kind of everything that’s happening on the call.
I remember when I very first started coaching in groups, it took a while for me to learn to just not really pay attention to what other people are doing. So you’re coaching one person, but out of the corner of your eye you can see, oh, this person over here looks bored. This person over here is like yawning. This person over here is messing with their dog. This person over here is, like clearly they’re working on something else, not paying attention, right?
There’s a certain skill that you have to learn to be able to just stay focused on the person that you are coaching and not be paying attention to all of the other things happening in the virtual room.
The other thing that can happen is you have to keep the group on track. So for example in my mastermind, Coaching Masters, I coach on the mastery of coaching, the skill of coaching, creating your coaching process, all of that. Every once in a while I’ll have a client who will bring up something that’s completely like 180, unrelated from what we’re coaching on that day. And I have to be able to redirect, right?
So that’s also a skill you have to have in a group community, is to be able to say, “Hey, this is not what we’re working on right now.” And you have to be aware of always what’s good for the whole group. So like one person coming to me, for example, to get coaching on a fight they just had with their spouse or something, their partner, when it doesn’t pertain at all to what we’re doing.
That is one area where I see a lot of people who are newer to group coaching, they come to me for coaching on that, like how do I handle this? And I think that that is just a skill to develop, is to just constantly ask yourself, is this what we’re doing? Is this good for the group? And being able to say, hey, we’re going to table this, or put a pin in this, or get some peer coaching on this or whatever it is, whatever options you have for your group to get coaching.
I always say like, hey, put this in the community. We will definitely help you, but that’s not what we’re doing on this call. It rarely happens in my space anymore because I’m so clear about what it is that we’re working on. And if you are a group coach that’s just a skill that you learn over time.
Another kind of thing that comes up a lot for coaches as they’re going into group coaching is the aspect of the selling and marketing. So it’s very similar to selling one on one, except I always thought of group coaching as kind of selling that one-on-one spot to 20 people at a time.
So if I say that you’re like, oh my gosh, no, no way, then, first of all, it’s a skill that you learn over time and that you develop, just like anything else. But I do think that this is the place where some coaches get caught up because they’re like, oh, but group coaching sometimes can be less expensive, which by the way is not always true, but sometimes it can be.
And I think a lot of people have the thought error that because it’s less expensive, it’s going to be easier to sell. And that’s usually just not true. You will have probably a few people who are just kind of watching, who have may be wanting to work with you for a long time, who have wanted to do one-on-one and for whatever reason it just didn’t work out.
And their thought was like, there’s no way I would ever spend that much money. And now you’re coming out with this group program, let’s say that’s like half the cost, which doesn’t have to be the case, again. I know some people have gone into group and like doubled their price from their one on one, which is fascinating. I just throw that in there to just show your mind that sometimes what you think is the truth of the universe is not.
But you might have some outliers who are like, “Oh yes, I’ve been waiting for this, I’m just ready right now.” But for the most part just because you’re thinking I should sell a group because the price is lower, does not mean you’re going to have a lot of people buy it all at once. So just something to keep in mind.
So just overall with group coaching you’re going to be spending a little more time coaching in a community, you’re going to be spending more time creating and teaching than you are coaching. So just kind of depending how that speaks to you maybe this is what you want to do, maybe not.
The next example I’m going to give you is a program. So the way I define a program is not necessarily by the length of time that it is, but by the structure. So a program is usually very scalable. You can coach a lot of people at one time, you can have lots of people in the program at the same time.
Programs can be, like my program, The Coach Lab, is a lifetime access program. So you pay one time and then you’re there until you don’t want to be or until I kick you out. Just kidding, I don’t kick people out. Or it can also be for a certain amount of time. So it could be a three month program where everyone is going through it for three months and then you’re done. But the main definition for me of a program is it has the capacity to hold a lot of people.
So usually the way people do that is they have some sort of place where their clients can go, so you might have some place where your clients can go and consume information that doesn’t require you teaching it. So maybe you have worksheets that are emailed weekly, or you have a video portal, which is what I have, or you have a bunch of videos that are sent to your clients when they first sign up for the program, or you have some kind of drip content where everyone’s being emailed a video at the same time every week going through it.
The point of the program is that it’s very niched, it’s very specific, everyone is working on the same thing. Everyone is going through content, usually at their own pace, or at least on their own time. And it may or may not have a regular live coaching component.
So a lot of programs do, they have some sort of live coaching component, but some programs don’t. Some have video coaching that they’ll send you, some have monthly coaching that you have to sign up for. Some have maybe a community and there is occasional coaching. There are so many different formats, I’ve seen this done in many different ways.
My program has weekly coaching, live coaching, where everyone can come. I let everyone be on the Zoom at the same time. So sometimes we have anywhere from 50 to, I don’t know, I think at one point we had 150 people on the Zoom. And I just go through and coach as many people as I can. Usually I get through everyone, but depending on how many people you have in a program this requires even more ability to hold space for this big room.
It’s like imagine if one-on-one coaching is like sitting with someone, metaphorically sitting with someone one-on-one and having a conversation. In my mind a program, even if you don’t have that weekly coaching component, you’re still thinking about it as if there’s this giant room full of people, we’re all here together, and I am teaching and coaching for everyone, I’m responsible for everyone. That’s how I think about it.
One thing about a program is it usually has a lot more teaching, a lot more planning outside of the coaching aspect of it than, for example, one-on-one coaching, and usually even more so than group coaching. So if your favorite thing is to just show up and coach, that’s something to consider when creating a program is it does take, like one thing for me personally, because I do love to just coach so much and I could just show up anywhere, coach, anyone, anything, anytime, all of that.
One thing that I’ve really had to wrap my head around with a program is just the regular content creation and really creating that database of videos and the process for the program and really spending a lot of my time in the creating and teaching part, rather than just the coaching. Which nothing wrong with that, it’s been so fun. I’m loving it so much and it’s just a different muscle to develop.
And then the last thing I’ll say about a program is that it does, just like when you go from one-on-one coaching to group coaching and then to a program, a program does take even more consistent marketing and selling.
So depending on how you’re selling it, usually programs, so for mine it’s lifetime access and it is open, at least right now as of the time I’m recording this, it is open all the time. I will still be doing launches and bonuses during big launches when I’m launching, but it is open all the time. Anyone can buy it all the time, the price will always be the same, it will never change unless I make big changes.
So for me, I’ll be mixing that up between my mastermind launches. But for those of you who aren’t selling group coaching or who aren’t selling masterminds and you only have a program, you might constantly be in that phase of, okay, I’m always selling the program and always selling this very specific thing, creating very specific results for your clients.
The next type of coaching that I see people sell is a membership. And I’m not going to say a lot about a membership because at least in my experience and the way I would define it, to me a membership is pretty much the same thing as a program. There might be some small differences, but the main difference is in the way that you sell it.
So memberships require that people either renew monthly, maybe renew every six months, or renew every year. But it’s basically, usually anyway, the same structure as a program and probably involves some sort of community and people have to choose to keep renewing and keep coming back and keep paying.
So let’s say you have a monthly membership, there’s just a lot more selling that’s involved because every month you’re selling the membership, every month you’re selling the people already in the membership on staying in the membership and just continuing to use it and why they want to be there and all of that. So, really, it’s the same thing as a program, at least the way I define it, it just is sold differently.
And the membership is going to be for the person who loves marketing and selling. If you love marketing and selling and you’re like, “That is my number one thing, I love it so much,” then a membership might be for you.
The next format, and this is one that I have yet to pursue, but I know a lot of my colleagues, a lot of coaches who do this is a course. Now, my definition of a course would be that it usually doesn’t include any live coaching. It’s something that someone buys one time and consumes on their own time, usually with no interaction from you as the coach.
Obviously, I know there are tons of different formats for courses, but that is usually how I see it happening. The client consumes the material 100% on their own at their own pace. And then depending on what kind of course it is there might be some level of interaction with you as the coach, but usually there’s not a lot of coaching.
So how you would know if that’s for you is if you’re like, “I love teaching and I have a huge audience.” The more we go down this list, the bigger your audience needs to be in order to sell it.
When you think about selling something like a program, or a membership, or a course, this is where if you’re a brand new coach and you haven’t established yourself as a coach, also you haven’t established yourself as an expert in another field that you’re now adding coaching into, these could be a little trickier to get started in just from the selling standpoint. Unless you are willing to, like when I think about organic marketing I think that it takes more of your own personal time because you’re just meeting people in your life or on social media or wherever.
And when I think about selling these other things, it can be done, but you would have to put more money into meeting people up front. More money into your marketing, into possibly going into ads or something like that. So there’s nothing wrong with it, it’s just something to consider.
I know a lot of new coaches who have tried their hardest, and I know this because I’ve coached them on it in my programs, they are like, “No, but you don’t understand, I love teaching so I’m going to create this course.” And I don’t really know anything about their audience because that’s not something we really coach on. And they’re like, “I have this course and it’s this beautiful, amazing course.” But then they don’t have anyone to sell it to.
And those are two very different things. There’s the creation of the thing, and you can be an expert and you can be amazing at what you do, but that doesn’t mean that people are just going to come flocking to you if they don’t even know you exist, right? So you have to be able to create the thing, but then you have to have a way to put it out into the world.
And when you think about one-on-one coaching, it’s a lot easier to find that one person to say yes, if you don’t have a huge audience, than it is to find the 100 people to say yes. For some of you this is totally the opposite.
I know coaches who maybe came into this world because they wrote a book and now they’re creating a program that goes with their book. Their book has a huge following, now they’re a coach, they’re creating a coaching program that’s going along with their book. And that’s a very different structure and a different way to go about it.
The last format I’m going to kind of talk about is a little different than all the others. The last format is just being a coach for someone else. So this is for the coach who’s like, “I have zero interest in building my own business, I have zero interest in doing my own marketing or selling. All I want to do is show up every day, coach full-time and that is it, period.” If that’s you, it doesn’t mean you can’t work on the other things and learn the other things. But if that’s you there is no shame in doing that.
I know so many coaches who love to hire coaches because so many coaches are creating all these things that I’m talking about. They’re creating group programs, and memberships, and courses, and group coaching and all of it where sometimes they need coaches to coach for them.
So just something to keep in mind. If you are like, “Listen, I hate the business building part,” maybe the answer or the solution to that is being a full-time coach for someone else, or multiple someone else’s. I know people that do that and have so much fun doing it.
Here are some questions to just consider when you are trying to decide what is right for me. I’m going to just go through, read you some questions. These are not the only questions, but hopefully they will at least help you kind of see where you are and maybe even spark some different questions that you might ask yourself.
So the first one is what just sounds fun to me? When you hear all those different descriptions, what sounds fun? That’s the first thing, right, just deciding if I could do any of it, what would I want to do? Then ask yourself, what do I currently have the audience for? Which of those things?
What do I want to build the audience for? What am I willing to build the audience for? How do I want to build my audience? Do I want to do it with time? Do I have money currently that I can just put into it and wait a little bit for the payoff? Just gauge, like, where are you on that?
And then what do you think your clients want? When you think about your clients, and of course, you can create something and make anything right for any client, but I really want you to consider, especially if you’re a newer coach, what is my niche? Who are my clients? What structure, with my current abilities, what structure will be the best for them?
And just start there. None of this means like, okay, well, then that’s what you have to do and that’s where you’re stuck forever. I just think it’s interesting to explore all of these in your mind and say, okay, how do I, like if I really want to create a program but I know I have a smaller audience, fine, how do I solve for that?
If I want to only have a membership, but I have a niche where it may require, at least right now because you don’t know any better, like it may require a little more high touch, a little more personal conversations, some niches lend themselves better to different types of offers. Until you become the coach who knows how to take an offer and craft it for your clients.
But in the beginning let’s say you are a grief coach and the way you prefer to coach your clients is very much like a kind of one on one, in depth, grief experience. And your clients are sharing lots of personal things and all of that, this is I’m not saying grief coaches should be only one-on-one coaches, I know there are plenty that do group things. And there are also amazing reasons, if you think about that niche, amazing reasons to have grief coaching in a group style program.
But just consider that, like where are you right now? What are your beliefs about your clients? What do they want? What do you have the ability to deliver? And what do you have the audience to sell to?
That is all. I hope this was really helpful, I get so many questions about this all the time. Oh, and I do want to say, I want to throw in at the end, I realized as I started recording this that there were also some outliers that I didn’t have in here like live events, or retreats, or workshops, or things like that that are more like one-off type things.
And I just purposefully didn’t include those in here because those are something kind of different, something like I know there are some coaches who sell individual workshops, that’s great. It’s kind of like selling a course and I would just lump that in there with that. I know there are also plenty of you that do live events. And if the live events are included in how you coach your clients, then that is already included in the things I was talking about.
If you’re selling live events separately, that’s also amazing. I would say a lot of live events, you could think about it in the same way as a group coaching experience or a program where there’s going to be more people, more than just the one-on-one experience and it’s going to require those same skills.
And then if you’re live and in person, you’re also going to want to have the skill of being comfortable teaching and talking in front of a group. Or maybe not even being comfortable but being nervous and deciding you’re doing it anyway and just throwing it out there, just putting yourself outside of your comfort zone.
But no matter what you choose, just ask yourselves all the questions that I gave you here and just go into it thinking if there was no right way and I could just pick the way that I want to coach my clients, what would that look like? And then once I pick it, what am I going to have to work through to get there? That is all, I will see you next week. Goodbye.
Thanks for listening to this episode of Mastering Coaching Skills. If you want to learn more about my work, come visit me at lindsaydotzlafcoaching.com. That’s Lindsay with an A, D-O-T-Z-L-A-F.com. see you next week.