In this week’s guest post coach Beverley Ireland-Symonds shares what she has learnt developing an online coaching packages.
The Challenges of Developing an Online Coaching Package
Have you ever thought about developing an online coaching package that you can use with clients?
I know for many coaches the thought of trying to coach a client online, other than using Skype would be a complete anathema. In fact to many it would be a training programme – not a coaching programme, but when I first started training as a coach I knew it was something that I wanted to explore.
Coming from a teaching background, part of my MA studies in Post Compulsory Education and Training had been to examine the challenges of online tutoring and mentoring so I knew a lot about the amount and type of support that might be needed. I was also used to creating all sorts of different resources for access through a VLE (Virtual Learning Environment) so I was confident about my ability to produce good content.
I also knew that I had valuable skills that not only did I not want to lose, but I also thought could be effectively utilised in my Coaching. I knew online coaching wouldn’t suit everyone but I was certain that there were potential clients out there that would make it a viable proposition. After all there has been a huge growth in online training.
However, it’s easy to have these ideas but quite a different thing to implement them. Other things soon got in the way and took priority and although I kept kicking the idea around and researched what other people were doing the ideas that I periodically sketched out stayed in a file. But this year I decided I didn’t want to keep putting it off and I wanted to make it happen.
And what a learning curve it has been. I had no idea the amount of things I would have to think about.
Firstly I had to consider whether any part of my niche confidence and career coaching would lend itself to being delivered online. Having decided it would and having made the decision I wanted to create a programme for people who are job hunting and struggling to get their ideal job I was then very quickly on to thinking about:
- Advantages and disadvantages of coaching online
- Identifying potential clients
- The programme offer
- What coaching methods could be used
- Course content
- Writing materials
- Finding a suitable online platform to run the programme
- Creating video and audio files
- Additional support for clients
- Marketing strategy
- Quality …
And so the list went on. It was a much bigger job than I had initially thought, particularly as I decided from the start that I didn’t want to outsource any of the work. This was partly a cost issue but also because I wanted to be able be able to change things and update them easily without having to contact someone else to do it.
However, this meant although I had lots of skills I still needed to learn new ones including how to build my own VLE (Virtual Learning Environment) from scratch.
Foolish perhaps, but I stuck with it and if all goes well, I’m hoping to launch ‘Become a job seeking superstar’ within 7 weeks.
So what are the some of the advantages of offering an online coaching programme?
For the clients
- Flexibility to study when they want
- Ability to choose what they learn
- Opportunity to work at their own pace
- Opportunity to be able to access some coaching without immediately committing to 1 to 1 coaching sessions.
For the coach
- Able to expand services offered
- Opportunity to earn passive recurring income
- Able reach more potential clients
And the key disadvantages which could affect both coach and clients
- Technical errors
- Timely support
- Limited personal contact (depending on the programme offered)
- Competing priorities
So what have I learnt from creating a coaching programme? Well lots of things …
- The need to research thoroughly including looking at any similar programmes.
- The importance of Identifying the needs of the potential clients and offering them ‘solutions’ to problems.
- Have an offer that is flexible to the needs of different clients.
- Coaching online requires a completely different mode of delivery – ‘teach’ first and then coach – rather than coach and draw ideas out of the client.
- Anticipate some of the ‘difficulties’ people may have either with the system or the materials and consider what support will be offered
- A fairly high level of technical skill is required if you want to offer a multi-media programme (unless you outsource the work)
- Testing and receiving feedback is a key component of the whole process
- Offer a product that doesn’t compromise on quality or in any way diminish the concept of ‘coaching’
- Recognise that there’s nothing wrong in starting small. Expansion can come later.
- Keep a positive attitude and a sense of humour at all times!
And now I’m nearly there will it be a success? That I won’t know until some months after I have launched the programme, but my testers have been positive and I have set myself very small manageable targets so I am very optimistic.
Would I recommend creating online coaching programmes to other coaches? Yes I would. It’s hugely challenging and it needs a whole different mindset and creativity to make it work but it is a real opportunity to offer a different service and expand your client base. It won’t suit everyone, but if it is something you’ve toyed with, give it a go.
About the author
Beverley Ireland-Symonds has worked in different fields including the NHS, travel and tourism, fashion, as well 16 years in adult and further education. As a qualified NLP Coach and Certified Practitioner, she works with clients to improve their confidence and image and has developed an online coaching programme for people returning to work after a break. She also runs a training and consultancy company specialising in communication skills and language development. You can follow her on Twitter and LinkedIn