Stop limiting your online income and make as much as you want as an online coach or business consultant
I’ve waited to put the coaching and consulting income idea further in our series about making money online but it might happen much faster for you.
I’ve waited to include it because for most people, making money as an online consultant takes more time to set up than some of the other income streams like advertising and affiliate sales. Other people though start their websites for the sole purpose of making money coaching or consulting.
Either way, using your blog to funnel visitors to your business consulting service can be extremely profitable.
Whether you plan on making consulting your first source of online income or working into it more slowly, the process is nearly the same.
How Much Money Can You Make as an Online Consultant?
Payscale lists the median hourly pay for Life Coaches at $30.42 per hour but the range varies from $11.37 to $103.50 per hour and annual salaries go as high as $200,000+ per year. The median pay would work out to just over $60,000 a year if you were working a full-time gig.
That’s just one type of coach and doesn’t even touch the kind of money some of my financial planning friends make each year.
You can coach or consult on just about everything and we’ll get into how to pick your topic later in the post. All the hourly rate and annual salary information you’re going to see from salary websites won’t apply because they are for workers in traditional jobs.
You are going to be your own boss with your own company and that means…
You can make as much money as you want!
We’ll cover how much to charge for online coaching in the next section but the idea is going to be to charge premium prices. You are going to be mastering a very focused topic and be transforming people’s lives.
You’re not just making money for your time, you’re earning what it’s worth to change someone’s life!
How Much Should You Charge for Business Consulting?
This is the first question most people ask before starting an online consulting business. Understanding how much they can charge for coaching gives them some kind of certainty about how much they can make.
But most people immediately doom their coaching business because they try to figure out how much they can charge per hour.
There are two reasons charging by the hour will doom your consulting business to failure.
- Hourly rates sound expensive. Most people aren’t going to pay $150 an hour for coaching but tell them how you are going to change their life with a $500 package plan and they will click ‘buy’ so fast it’ll make your head spin. People don’t pay for an hour of consulting, they pay for you to fix their problems.
- Hourly rates also put you in competition with everyone else charging by the hour. Clients are going to compare your rates to everyone else they find…and will usually end up going with the lowest cost regardless of quality.
Instead of pricing your consulting by the hour, charge according to results. Tell people what problems you will solve and what needs your will help them fulfill. A lot of times, those needs are priceless so you can charge whatever you want.
After working with a few clients, you’ll get a better feel for how much time and work it takes to deliver on your promises. You’ll be able to adjust your prices higher or lower to find that happy medium between value and making more money.
Three package offers seems to be the sweet spot for selling just about anything online. Each package should offer different results, tools and resources for a little more money. You can target each package at totally different needs or you can make them cumulative where the higher price packages get everything in the lower-price ones and more.
Don’t overlook pro-bono and reduced rate coaching for non-profit organizations. You can take the difference between what you charge the organization and your normal rate as a charitable contribution and use it to save money on your taxes.
…OK so you still want to know how much you should be charging per hour for consulting, if nothing else just to figure out how much to charge for the entire consulting process. That’s fine. It helps to know your minimum hourly rate to make sure you will make money on your consulting packages.
Follow this process to find your minimum hourly rate for consulting services.
- How much do you want to make per year?
- What are the total number of days you can work in a year, i.e. weeks times hours each week? (minus vacation days, holidays, sick days)
- Working 52 weeks a year, five days a week is 260 days. Minus 14 vacation days, 9 holidays and 5 sick days would yield 232 working days.
- How many hours do you work each day?
- How many working hours can you devote to coaching versus how many are spent on marketing, email, social media, etcetera?
- This gives you an estimate for billable hours, i.e. 232 working days times 7 hours per day is 1,624 hours but if only half of the time can be spent coaching then 1,312 billable hours.
- If your desired salary included all your expenses then you can just divided that by your billable hours for a minimum rate. So if you want to make $80,000 a year and can bill for 1,312 hours = $61 per hour is your minimum. Otherwise continue to step 7.
- Budget out all your expenses including office rent, travel, phone service, subscriptions & memberships, office supplies & equipment, advertising, and services. It helps to look through your business credit card statements over the last year to see everything you’ve spent money on for the business. Add all your expenses to the amount you want to take home and that is how much money you want to make.
- Divide how much money you want to make coaching by your billable hours and that is your minimum hourly rate.
What Can You Coach Online?
If you’re to this point in the make money series, you should already know the answer to this one. If there is a website about something…and there’s a website for everything, then you can make money coaching on the subject. That’s all a website is, a digital consultant where you read about something rather than have someone teach it to you.
There are a few things you can do to make your online consulting business a success.
- Focus on niche within a single idea. It will help you master the topic and stand our among all the other coaches.
- Master a single need, a single problem that people have within the topic. For example, don’t try coaching around the entire pay-per-click (PPC) marketing topic. Instead focus on a specific type of PPC marketing like on Facebook or Google. That focus is going to help you stand out against all the other consultants that don’t specialize.
- Is there a specific group within the niche above, i.e. Facebook PPC marketing for a specific group of people (bloggers) or an industry (financial services)? Think of this as your ‘specialization’ within your major. Your extra mastery here will further help you serve specific clients.
- Your coaching should solve a problem. People don’t want to ‘learn’ about your great new technique, they want to solve their problem to which it relates.
Don’t rule out anything. While researching for this article, I found one guy that was making $10,000+ a month as an online personal trainer. You might not think that kind of face-to-face training would be possible online but you truly can coach anything.
Whatever you decide to coach…your goal should be transformation, not information. Clients can get just about any information free on the internet. They pay you to transform them through your guidance.
Transform your clients and you won’t need to advertise for long. You’ll start getting more referrals than you can handle.
Local Coaching versus Reaching a Bigger Audience
It may seem a no-brainer, expanding your reach out to as many people as possible. You will probably be doing most of your consulting online so why not offer your services to the world.
There are situations where local targeting is better.
If you are doing professional financial planning or working in other areas like insurance, you may need to work locally because of licensing.
Offering a limited amount of face-to-face consulting for local clients can allow you to boost your consulting package rates as well. It’s also going to be easier to rank for your best keywords on your blog if you are including local words like your city or state name. Wrapping your blog content around these local keywords will put you ahead of other consultants that don’t have the same focus.
Automating Your Online Consulting Process to Make Money with Less Work
The biggest problem with online coaching and business consulting is that it takes more time than other ways we’ve covered to make money online.
You’ll need to constantly be finding new clients, solving their needs and then getting more clients…it’s a hamster wheel!
Online coaching isn’t a passive income source, but few of the ways to make really big money are very passive.
The trick to make more money consulting is to automate as much of your process as possible. This means automating both your sales process and the consulting.
Ways to Automate your Consulting Sales Process
- Use the Facebook ads and webinar process we used in the article about selling courses online. You’ll be able to use the same ads and webinar each month to attract new consulting clients.
- Create a series of emails that go out to all your new subscribers. The first couple of emails should just introduce yourself and build a relationship with the subscriber. The next few emails can further that relationship and build your credibility through personal stories and testimonials. These last few emails also include references to your consulting service and links to the offer page.
A lot of online consultants offer a brief one-on-one session for free to ‘qualify’ clients and pitch them one of the coaching packages. I’m not a fan of these because it takes so much time to just reach one person. Use the webinar process instead to reach many people at once.
Ways to Automate your Consulting Business
- The idea here is to build out a coaching book to which you can refer and make your job easier. You can create these resources as you go but should put some of them together before you get started consulting.
- Create all your worksheets and guides you’ll use with clients
- Create videos for every lesson plan or session as a supplement
- Create a reference resource for all the most common questions and your answers
- Create a common client persona, a common type of client and their needs, then create a written process that you can follow each time
Starting out, you may need to take on anyone as a client. Eventually, you’ll be able to start being more selective and will want to take on fewer client types. This means only taking on clients that fit one of a few ‘personas’ or needs.
This is going to make it easier to coach each because they share similar needs and experience. You’ll be able to automate more of your sessions and create closer groups, more on this below, which will allow you to work with more clients and make more money!
How to Make Even More Money Coaching with a Mastermind Group
Mastermind groups are more interactive than traditional group coaching but can work with your consulting business as well. Mastermind groups are regular meetings within a topic where everyone adds to the conversation and shared knowledge.
Traditional group consulting means one person does nearly all the talking but has a serious flaw. You always have one or two people in the group that zone out and don’t get much from it. It’s impossible to transform someone’s life if they’re just sitting there.
You will still be leading the mastermind group but let people interact, offer their own suggestions and talk about what they learned since the last meeting. It’s a great way to keep people involved and take some of the coaching burden off your shoulders.
In fact, some of your mastermind groups may build such a strong connection that members continue to pay you to be a part of the group well after your coaching process has ended.
How to create a mastermind group around your consulting process:
- Break your coaching course into three to five sections, each separated by a milestone people can reach within the section.
- Create a mastermind group for each segment of the course. When someone ‘graduates’ to the segment milestone, they move on to the next mastermind group. You can also graduate everyone in the group to the next segment, keeping everyone together.
- Segmenting your group coaching like this means someone doesn’t have to start at zero in the course if they already have some experience.
- Consider supplementing your coaching groups with a limited one-on-one consulting as well to give each member focused attention.
Making money consulting or as an online coach may be one of the first ways you consider to create income from your blog or it may take a while to build up to it. It’s one of the higher-paying online income sources but takes time to build the credibility and experience to be successful. Whichever path you decide to take, don’t count out the value of your experience and don’t neglect this great way to make money online.