7 Steps to Building an Online Audience of Your Ideal Coaching Clients
When you’re building a coaching business, one of the first things that comes up for people is about where (and how) to get coaching clients.
When I took my business online, I saw the importance of building an audience of some kind, and one of the easiest ways to do that these days is through social media.
Building an online audience (or any kind of audience) is really all about building relationships and human connection.
As much as we hear about the importance of Facebook ads, funnels and email marketing strategies, the truth is – it doesn’t have to be complicated. You only need you and your willingness to serve.
By growing your following through solid connection and focussing on the building of relationships, you’ll always have an organic group of ideal clients who are drawn to your work with you. Whether they become a client now, or later, by earning their trust and growing with them, you’re going to naturally grow your coaching (or healing) business.
Here are a few things that I’ve discovered as I’ve built my own audience for you to keep in mind, that’ll make your journey easier.
The Most Important Foundational Element
One of the things they don’t teach in most coaching programs is how to be a powerful observer. So many coaches and healers get so up in their heads that they forget the power of simply being observant. Of taking notice.
When I first started out – and still now – I was so open to energy. My own, for sure, but also of the energy of the people who were showing up. I was conscious of who was commenting on my posts, sending me messages, telling me I inspired them and circling around me and my business.
At the time – this wasn’t really intentional! But looking back, I can see that the value that I placed on being observant has been key to my quick business growth.
When I first started coaching and mentoring outside of my previous career in oil and gas, I hadn’t been on Facebook very long. I was just starting out with any kind of online presence. I remember the first thing that I did to let people know that I’d left my job, was that I wrote a post about how it felt to leave the corporate world behind, about my healing journey and my spiritual awakening (or whatever you want to call it).
At the end of the post, I offered free coaching sessions to anyone who wanted them – the idea being just to get my feet wet outside of my old world, and figure it all out.
I wasn’t sure anyone would message me back to say they wanted coaching, or even comment on my post.
But…So many people commented. So many.
And I was booked solid for months. Three months later, I started charging and haven’t looked back since.
That one post generated so much interest and it was all from women who were feeling stuck in a nine to five job, and who wanted to get unstuck, and free. They wanted to expand into another place. Something that felt closer to soul’s work.
This experience taught me this very valuable lesson:
What you put out there is what you’re going to get back.
My post resonated with so many women, and because I was open to their responses and needs, I was able to observe closely and understand:
- Who am I attracting?
- What are they’re looking for?
- Do I want to serve them?
- And if so, what do they need from me?
Like I said – this was all quite unintentional – but looking back, I can see that by just showing up as I am and sharing authentically, I was able to attract the women I can help.
And there are two lessons in this that were absolutely key to my building an online audience from the very beginning.
#1 – I was playful and messy with my posts rather than boxing myself in too early. This is hard if you struggle with perfectionism and you want everything to be perfect and controlled all of the time. But being willing to be imperfect allowed me to get IN ACTION sooner, instead of staying inside of planning mode.
#2 – I became the observer and noticed who was showing up and how I could serve them. I was completely open to the energy of what was presenting itself. Instead of questioning everything along the way, I let it be free form and fun. I kinda like to imagine that I’m an eagle soaring above and that I can see all that’s happening (instead of being all stuck in my head).
Now, these two points are worth diving into deeper, so I’ve broken it down into 7 tips to help you build your online audience for your coaching business as organically and naturally as possible.
7 Tips to Build Your Online Audience
1. Share lessons about your own journey
I’ve said it before and I’ve said it again. Storytelling is one of the oldest forms that humans use to connect, teach and relate to each other. And if when you share lessons about your own journey, it’s going to attract a certain person.
For example, I know that if I write about motherhood and my kids, I’ll automatically attract other moms – guaranteed.
If I write about entrepreneurship, then it’s going to be entrepreneurs that show up.
If I write about leaving a corporate career behind (as I did in that very first Facebook post), then that’s who I’ll attract.
I tell all of my students and clients to share the lessons from their own journey, particularly the ones that relate to the type of person they want to call in.
And if you don’t know who you want to call in, then share the stories that you feel compelled to share and see who shows up. Get curious! See what happens when you share authentically.
And if you’re wondering what stories to share and how to share them, here are a few tips:
- Share lessons that you have personal gleaned wisdom from.
- Use descriptive language and add in details that pull the reader in. Get specific so the reader can feel into your story.
- Stay away from stories that still feel raw and open. Share from the scar and not the wound (some famous person suggests this, but I can’t remember who). If you are still inside of the event or trauma – you might not be ready to share it just yet. Wait until you can see the lesson and you can teach/talk about.
- “Bleed in the first line.” I learned this one from copywriter Laura Belgray and it’s served me well. Especially when crafting a social media post, you want to start with something that will pull people in. In English class, we were taught to lead into the story but that doesn’t work in this context. Get rid of any boring bits and make it so interesting that the reader just wants to find out what you’re writing about!
- Share about the transformation. Think about any time there were before and afters in your life. Who were you before? What changed? What did you do? What happened? What was the result after?
When we share our stories, our clients can begin to see themselves in our shoes. They see the possibilities that are available to them.
So talk about when you’ve been and how you got to where you are.
One of the basic fundamental human needs is to be seen and to be heard.
Any time we can validate people in their own journey and motivate them to keep going, that’s a beautiful thing.
2. Offer value—Give pointers and tips on how to get to the next place (and a taste of what it’s like to work with you)
Once you’ve shared your stories and about your own transformation, be sure to offer tips and pointers on how your clients can get to the next place in their own journey. If someone has bothered to read and engaged with your content – you want to add some value to them.
In doing this, not only are you helping them, but you’re basically giving them a mini-taste of what it’s like to work with you.
I often hear from prospective clients that I’m on a discovery call with say something like; “I’ve been following you for two years and I’ve read all of your posts. They’re so helpful!” Or they say; “I just found you and went back to the very beginning of your Facebook page and I’ve watched everything you’ve ever posted.”
This always leaves my shocked, humbled, fascinated, interested (and a little bit embarrassed because goodness knows what I was writing about in the early days!).
But in sharing in the way that I do, they can see what it’s like to work with me. They have a clear idea of what I’m like as a person/coach/mentor and how I can help them.
If you don’t have that free content built up for people to digest, it’s going to be harder to turn them into a paying client.
So start now – what are ten stories you can share with your audience? Make a list and get writing. (And then notice who shows up!).
You can also offer free content by having a blog, a downloable resource, something that helps you ICA (ideal client avatar).
3. Don’t niche right away
I’ve written about this extensively in this blog post HERE, but in a nutshell, I always urge people not to niche right away when starting their business. Unless you already have a really clear idea of the type of person you want to serve, it’s better to be open to the possibilities and see who resonates with you and who you resonate with.
Otherwise, niching can be a distraction from simply being in action and being of service. It also puts you inside a box and you, my dear, are not meant to be contained!
When I started, it was so much fun just to see who I attracted. I coached a whole bunch of women from different backgrounds and learned who I love coaching and who I don’t love coaching. You don’t have to serve everyone!
It wasn’t until I’d had the time to experiment and be playful that I started to make decisions about the direction of my business and the relationships that I wanted to grow.
That’s when you niche!
4. Take notice of your client’s language
There is power in matching and mirroring your clients’ language. When you take notice of their language and weave it into your own copy and language, you’re validating how your client is feeling and speaking directly to them (and their wallets 😜).
Every time your client is speaking, you need to be so present that you can actually hear the stuff that they’re saying. Take a mental note of their struggle, their dreams and the words they are using. Then you need to use those words inside of your copy and marketing messages. That means your web material, marketing, posts and so on.
Yes, share about you (like I said above), but also pick up on the stuff your clients are struggling with and address that, right in your own writing.
Good copy has the ability to convert a reader into a buyer and the one common thread with all great copy is that it uses the target consumers’ language.
It’s also a skill! I don’t pretend to be a copywriter, but I did take Marie Forleo and Laura Belgray’s “The Copy Cure” so I could learn to write better copy. I’ve also mentored with copywriters, so it takes practice!
So when I’m on a call, I sometimes write down (or take a mental note) the specific things the client said. And then I capture that language to start writing posts or copy.
When I’m writing, I literally channel a client during the act of writing. I think about the things that they said and I’ll write a post as if it was specifically written to them, using their words, keeping in mind what they need help with and how I can serve them.
- What kinds of struggles does your customer have?
- What’s her desired solution? What’s her dream outcome?
- What words does she use to describe her problems? Is she overwhelmed? Stuck? Lost?
- When your clients speak, what kinds of sentences come up again and again?
Tap into your clients’ language and learn how to use, and you’ve got a license to print money, honey!
5. Be willing to be messy and experiment
Don’t let your perfectionism stop you. Can I say that again?
I think that perfectionism is one of the number one things that holds female entrepreneurs back.
Honestly…if I could list all the times I wanted things to be perfect, it would be a long list! A few of my own examples are:
- My first website. I’d spent a ton of money on getting it to the point of launching and then when it was finally ready, I was worried sick. What if it wasn’t perfect enough? What if I missed something? What if people didn’t like it? It. Was. Paralyzing. I held off launching for months when in reality I should have just gotten it out there into the world and improved over time. Denise Duffield-Thomas writes about this quite a bit in her book, “Chillpreneur.” A valuable read to help shake that perfectionist out of you!
- My first retreat. I spent months preparing for it and developing content. Then when the time came, yes, it was great that I had a plan, but after the fact, the women all told me how much they enjoyed the times during the program where “I went off script.” Your instinct is such a valuable tool and a far better muscle to strengthen (versus letting your perfectionism hold you back and slow the showdown).
You have to be willing to be playful and messy so that you can experiment.
Don’t let your perfectionism stop you. Wanting to people-please, wanting other people to like you or like your stuff — these are all very common things that hold us back.
The more you’re willing to not let that hold you back, and the more you allow it all to be messy and playful, the quicker you’ll start seeing what works and what doesn’t. And this will be the very best indicator of how you can get results in your business.
It’s kinda like this: You can plan and plan and plan. But you don’t actually know for sure until you get into action and get feedback from the doing.
I firmly believe this and am proof that being imperfect is ok!
6. Be consistent and memorable
It’s important to show up consistently if you want to build an online audience. You want to be front of your clients’ minds and the best way to do this is to keep showing up.
This doesn’t necessarily mean you have to show up on the same day at the same time every day – or anything like that. But commit.
- Post three times on Instagram and Facebook per week?
- Do one Facebook live per week?
- Publish two blogposts/month and email your list weekly?
Some of the experts recommended a far more structured approach that includes planning and a content calendar (ugh). I’d love to tell you to do that, but it just doesn’t work for me. I like to show up when I feel like, but I make sure I show up consistently (even if it’s inconsistent!).
Just keep showing up. That’s how you build your audience super organically. And remember, when you show up, your audience will show up. But you gotta show up first, woman.
7. Engage and connect with them
People want to be engaged and delighted. So as you grow your muscles, when someone comments – always comment back. If they have taken the time to read your stuff and comment, you should take the time to respond. And if someone comments a lot, this could be a potential customer! Start a conversation with them and if it feels aligned, reach out to them directly on Messenger or in the DMs on Instagram. Don’t be creepy or try to sell them something right away. Have a friggin conversation and see who they are as a person!
But this is more than just commenting back or trying to “get” a customer. This is an outbuilding authentic relationships and connecting with people. Ask them questions, find out about their story and what it’s like for them. People want to share their own stuff. And whether or not this person becomes a customer doesn’t really matter. You show up in service to others and next thing you know you’re getting referrals and recommendations from others.
I’m always fascinated by the number of times someone will either be commenting on my stuff or maybe they reach out to me in Messenger, and I’ll reply, and then we go back and forth a bit.
And then I say something like “Hey, would you want to hop on a call sometime and we can have an in-person (online) conversation about next steps?” And they say, “I would love that.”
People want connection. And you never know, they might become a paid client.
It only takes one client to start a coaching /healing business. And then another. And then another.
Every time I start to feel like, “Oh my god, where is my next client going to come from?” someone pops into my inbox or DMs me who I’ve built a relationship with. I have made over $50,000 in the DMs by creating relationships with my followers.
Next, ask yourself these questions
As you continue to implement these seven tips and build your audience, look for trends and patterns, and pivot based on what you see and where you’re trying to go.
Ask yourself these questions:
- What’s working? What are people responding to?
- Who do I light up working with?
- What’s not working?
- Who am I attracting?
- Where are they coming from?
- How can I serve them?
As you figure out what’s working, do more of that and ramp it up. And always – trim the fat on what doesn’t feel or aligned. The more you say no, the more you have room for the yeses.
Building an online audience doesn’t have to be hard or complicated. You don’t need to build a funnel or invest in Facebook ads.
But you do need to be you and share from your open heart. Be authentic as you share and see how growing an organic audience is one person at a time. One relationship at a time. That’s all it takes!
If you’re looking for even more guidance on this topic and you’d like to discover how to use your unique gift to attract clients, check out my digital course where I dive into this topic, and more.
Have any questions? Ask away in the comments.
Hi, I'm Becky!
For Coaches and Leaders