How to Start Your Online Coaching or Training Business in 2021? A step-by-step Guide

online coaching and training

The whole world has gone topsy-turvy in 2020 and several businesses like aviation, hospitality, tourism, retail, etc got very badly hit. One business which also suffered a lot (especially during the initial period of the pandemic) is the business of Coaching and Training. As physical coaching sessions and training programs were not possible due to lockdown and social distancing norms, the whole community of coaches and trainers were left with absolutely no work.

This business required a radical shift in the way it was operating. It had no option but to shift its model from offline to online. Coaching sessions moved to Zoom, G Meet and Skype; while training moved to online learning platforms. While quite a few people from the community of coaches and trainers were able to make this transition, many suffered because of their lack of knowledge required to make this shift. Not only this, even from the consumers perspective; it took time for the demand for online coaching and training services to grow.

Now since it has been more or less established that online coaching and training is here to stay (even after social distancing norms get relaxed); being a coach or a trainer, if you have not jumped on to that bandwagon yet, you risk losing out big time on this enormous opportunity. However, to take the first step, you need help, and this blogpost has been written with that purpose in mind.

This blog is for all those people:

  • Who want to start their online coaching or training business to capitalise on this great opportunity
  • Who are coaches and/or trainers and are struggling to take their business online
  • Who either fear technology or feel that online interactions can never be as powerful as the offline one
  • Who are looking for an easy, idiot-proof, step-by-step guide in layman’s language so that they can skip all the heavy lifting which is required to start an online coaching or training business

If you belong to one of these categories, read further. Otherwise also, I promise that it would be an interesting read and may give you some ideas about jumping into this great opportunity.

I too belong to the community of coaches and trainers. During my entrepreneurial journey, I was able to coach more than 1000 people and design some amazing training programs. While my current corporate job has taken away the pleasures of facilitating a power-packed training session or helping someone achieve great results by coaching him/her; yet I have remained connected with the world of coaching and training by following some of the best in this area through YouTube and e-learning courses.

For the last nine months, I have been closely following some very interesting personalities from this field (at both international and domestic levels) to understand and observe how they have shifted their delivery methods and business models from offline to online. It has been an amazing period of learning and discovery for me. Not only have I learnt the methods to make this shift but also figured out the tools that one needs to use, along with demand generation and delivery methods that are needed in the online world.

Armed with this knowledge and understanding, I decided to write this piece to make your journey easy, compressing the learning of 9 months into easily implementable steps where you can set-up your online coaching and/or training business in 7 days. Yes, you read it right – 7 days.

My only request to you is – follow everything that I have mentioned in this blog blindly, don’t be judgemental and start questioning things or replacing parts of my approach with yours. It’s a step-by-step guide, so everything is sequential. If you miss even one step, it will not work.

With the hope that you are fully onboard, let’s start.

Step 1 – Create Your Online Identity

To start your coaching and/or training business online, you need to first create your online identity or in layman’s words, open and online office from where you can do business. You will need three things to complete this step:

  1. Book a Domain Name – Domain name is your unique identity in the online world. You can book the domain either in your personal name or in the name of your business. Ideally you should try to book a .com domain, however that is not a compulsion if it is not available. You can also check out the other available extensions as suggested by your domain booking provider. As the idea here is to take your coaching and/or training business online permanently, you should book you domain for at least 3-5 years. This way you can optimise the booking cost and get a better deal from the domain booking service provider.

    You can use this link to book your domain right away. – CLICK HERE
  1. Book Hosting for your Domain – The way your business needs an office space in the offline world, your domain also needs to have a space where it can be hosted for people to access it in the online world. For hosting too, I would recommend booking the service for 3-5 years. You also need to estimate the number of visitors who would be accessing your domain and buy a hosting package accordingly. My suggestion would be to start with a mid-level package and upgrade it later when your online business grows. There is no point in spending a large amount upfront.

    You can book your domain hosting using this link – CLICK HERE
hostgator landing page for web hosting
  1. Get your Website made – In my view, having a website for your online coaching and/or training business is a must. While people may have mixed views about having a website, I would suggest you not to skip this step. It is very easy to get a website made in 3-4 days at a very nominal cost. But before getting your website made, do a small research on the websites of some coaching and training businesses and model yours on one of them. Collect all the material that you want to put on your website to showcase your coaching and/or training business. You may have to spend a day in writing some of the sections of your website. I very strongly recommend that you should do it yourself and not outsource it. You know your business better and rather than spending time in explaining your business to someone else, you should use the same time to write it yourself. Start with a barebone structure, don’t worry about creating an ideal website. You can always keep improving it as your business grows and as you have more money to spend on professional writers.

    Once all your material is ready, you can go to https://www.fiverr.com/ and hire a freelancer to build your website in 2-3 days. There are many of them available who would help you with this at a very reasonable cost.
fiverrr homepage

Step 2 – Finalise Your Online Product or Service

In the online world, it is especially important to be extremely clear about what you are offering to your customers. You need to define your product or service very clearly and what benefits it will deliver to them. Let’s try to understand few rules of the online world before you finalise your product or service.

  • People prefer to consume training in bite-sized modules in the online world. This typically means modules which are of 10-20 minutes duration. If you are used to training in the offline world where typically one module runs for 90-120 minutes, you need to reorient yourself to this reality.
  • Most of the online training happens through pre-recorded videos. You must condition yourself to face the camera and record your trainings without actually interacting with your audience.
  • While you still have the option to conduct live classes in the online world, I would not recommend regular use of this medium. Since the online business provides you the opportunity to record your training once and then use it perpetually, why would you like to put in efforts every time when you have to train people.
  • Coaching in the online world gets conducted by using tools like Zoom, G Meet, Skype, etc. If you are used to conducting coaching in a physical setting, you need to change your orientation. You will have to make the other person as comfortable as you would make him/her in a physical setting.
  • Online world also provides you the opportunity to conduct coaching in a One to Many or Group Coaching format. This could give you an amazing opportunity to coach multiple people at the same time and grow your business exponentially.

Having understood these basic rules, now you need to clearly define your product or service in the following manner. Don’t skip this step because it will come in very handy later when you start promoting your product or service to your potential customers.

  1. Finalise a name for your Product or Service. Ideally it should be a three-word name. Use words like Blueprint, Formula, Model, System, Challenge, Intensive, etc. in your title. These words would help you create relatability of your offering with the online audience as they are used to seeing course names with such words.
  2. List down the content of your course or coaching program. The whole structure needs to be clearly defined with details of each session or lesson. Write it in a manner where a third person can easily understand what is on offer.
  3. Identify 5 to 7 measurable benefits that a customer will get if he/she decides to purchase your course or coaching program.
  4. If you plan to use powerpoint slides or mindmaps, keep them ready.
  5. You need to have 3 to 5 resources that your customers will expect you to give them as bonuses. These could be e-books, done-for-you (DFY) templates or anything else which would have some perceived value for your customers.
  6. Organise at least 3 to 5 testimonials for your product or service. Since you are starting new on the online medium, you can very well collect these testimonials from your offline customers. Video testimonials are preferable but initially a written one will also do.
  7. Decide the price of your offering. You must remember that the price points in the online world are very different from that of the offline world. Here you will have to focus on first providing higher perceived value at a low price point. Then over a period of time you can increase the price, once your product or service gets established and you have enough social proof available to give confidence to your potential buyers to pay a higher price. Also, online world has the potential to generate much higher volumes to compensate for the lower price.

Step 3 – Recording Your Course and Promotional Videos

Before you start recording your course, I would advise you to spend two hours in learning a tool which I am going to recommend for recording your course. I have done enough research in this area and have not found any tool better and cheap than the one I am recommending below.

You can go to https://screencast-o-matic.com/home and purchase this tool. I would recommend that you buy the Deluxe plan for 3 years which is the cheaper option.

screenomatic for screen capturing

Thereafter, it will be a good idea to spend at least 2 hours on the YouTube Channel of screencast-o-matic and you will be ready to start your course recording.

Here are the few steps you should ideally follow:

  • Use your laptop/desktop and its webcam to record your course.
  • Practice playing around with screencast-o-matic for half an hour. Get used to its feature of toggling between recording your screen and webcam separately and both of them together.
  • Try to get comfortable with this software to a level where you can record your videos in one go and you don’t need to edit them later. Believe me, if you are able to achieve this, it will save you so much time and energy later. And you will thank me for giving this suggestion.
  • Don’t try to achieve perfection in your first try itself. You can always replace some of these videos later if you feel they need improvement.
  • Try to record multiple lessons at the same time. Once you get into the flow, it is much easier to achieve this, rather than trying to start again at a different time.
  • Once you complete recording all your lessons, run through them to see if they need any editing. You may also want to add your logo or your name in the videos using the editing facility of screencast-o-matic.

My suggestion would be to start with a small course of around 8-10 modules/lessons. This way you will get some practice and gain confidence. Next time, you would be able to do a much better job while recording your next course.

I would also recommend you to record the following:

  • One 5 to 7 minute video explaining the course/offering content and the benefits that your customers will receive if they decide to buy it. As this will be your sales pitch, it must be very powerful. You should finalise the script first before recording it.
  • 2 to 3 one-minute videos promoting your course/offering. These will be used later to attract your potential customers. They also have to be powerful but you should not promise unrealistic outcomes.

Step 4 – Finalising the Right Tools for Your Online Coaching and/or Training Business

Now we have come to a step where things become little complicated and you have enormous choice of tools available to perform various functions required to launch your offering online. I have seen people getting extremely confused as to which tools they should choose and ultimately ending up spending huge monies without getting optimal results.

Before I come to tools, let me try to explain the key functionalities that are needed to run your online coaching and/or training business and why these tools are required:

  • You need a Learning Management System (LMS) on which your course videos can be hosted. This is the platform through which your customers will be able to access your course and interact with you as well. Some LMS tools also provide the functionality of conducting live classes or coaching sessions.
  • You also need a landing page builder. Landing page is the place where your potential customers can come and learn about your course and are able to buy it online.
  • You may also need a marketing funnel tool through which you are able to collect leads for selling your course/coaching product or call them for a webinar.
  • You will need an autoresponder tool through which you can send mass mails to your mailing list or notify people who have bought your course/coaching product at regular intervals.
  • A video conferencing tool like Zoom, G Meet or Skype will be required for you to conduct live classes, coaching sessions or webinars.
  • While this one is not compulsory, you may want to have a community building platform to facilitate interaction amongst your customers. However, I would strongly recommend you to use Facebook Groups in the beginning for this purpose.

While there are multiple tools available in the market for each of the functionalities mentioned above, it requires good amount of technical skills to integrate all of them together. Also, it becomes extremely expensive to buy all of them separately as most of these tools start charging you on monthly basis the moment you subscribe to them. All these tools would have some sort of a free plan to make you sign up, but I want to caution you that it’s a way to just hook you in. Most of the key functionalities would be available only on the paid plan and you will end up buying that.

For the last few months, I was on a quest to identify the most efficient, optimal and multi-functional tool as I always prefer to have simplicity in my life. Having to buy these multiple tools and integrate them was too complex a proposition in my view. You would agree with me that as a community of trainers and coaches, our core skill is coaching and training and we should focus on that; not in trying to become a master of tools and learning how to integrate and use them.

I finally found something where I got all these functionalities in one place.

The tool that I am recommending has every functionality that I have mentioned above. In my view, this is the most cost efficient, multifunctional and simple tool that is available in the market currently.

Use this link to access it free. Then buy the Pro plan immediately. I am hoping that you will be able to catch the offer where your yearly price will remain fixed at current levels for lifetime.

Having bought this tool, now I suggest you spend 3-4 hours on its YouTube channel and try to learn every functionality that I have mentioned above. I would strongly recommend doing each step yourself at least once before you decide to outsource it to a freelancer on https://www.fiverr.com/. This way you will have a thorough view of all the functionalities that this tool offers and how to use them.

Now here are the next steps that you need to follow:

  • Create your course/coaching program on New Zenler.
  • Load the Videos that you have already shot along with handouts or any other material that you want to provide to your customers.
  • Build the course page. Use the 5 to 7 minute video that you had shot earlier along with course details, testimonials, etc.
  • Create your account on any of the payment gateways associated with New Zenler and define the course price. You need to do this step because in the online world all your payments come through a payment gateway. It is always a good idea to define a high price and then offer a discount coupon to your customer.
  • Give access of your course to one or two of your past students along with a coupon code equivalent to the price of the course. This way they will get it free and in return help you test the complete workflow that you have set up. Take feedback from them about every step and improve things if needed.
  • Now you are ready to launch your course online.

Step 5 – Getting Buyers for Your Course or Coaching Program

There are two methods through which you can start promoting your course to your prospective online customers.

  1. Organic Method – Since this method comes free, it has its limitations. However, I would strongly recommend you start with this method. You need to take the following steps:
    1. Take the one-minute videos that you had shot earlier and start posting them on all your social networks. Along with the video, you should also write an attractive introduction to your course or coaching program and share the link of your landing page.
    2. You should strongly use the Stories feature on your social platforms to promote your offering. In addition to Stories, it will be a good idea to use the Short Video feature like Reels on Instagram to promote your offering.
    3. Even if you have a small follower base, start going Live on LinkedIn, Facebook and Instagram and have conversations around the outcome that your course or coaching program promises. Link your offering towards the end of these conversations.
    4. Those of you who have a YouTube Channel or a Podcast of your own, I don’t need to tell you that these two are the best mediums to promote your offerings. Others who are not on YouTube or are not doing a Podcast; it’s not a bad idea to move in this direction.
    5. Lastly, the evergreen medium of Blogs can also come in handy to promote your offerings. Create Blog posts around topics linked to your course or coaching program and then promote the same towards the end.
  1. Paid Method – Once you have developed some confidence in your offering and if you are able to generate few sales (even 1 sale is fine), it is time to reinvest that money to promote your course or coaching program more aggressively. Here is what you need to do:
    1. Keep a small budget initially and start promoting through Facebook. You need to learn little bit about how to run Facebook ads. It is not very difficult and there are enough YouTube videos to understand the basics of Facebook advertising. One caution – don’t make things complex by trying to master this art. Just start with the basic knowledge.
    2. If you feel that this process is too challenging for you, go to https://www.fiverr.com/. There are enough people who will help you set up your ad account and run your first campaign.
    3. Once you get some success with Facebook, start advertising on Google as well. Follow the same process as advised above. First try to learn it yourself, otherwise go to https://www.fiverr.com/ and seek help.
    4. Since I have advised you to start with a small course which is not priced highly, you can straightaway get your leads on your landing page. However, once you build your next high value offering, you may want to invite your potential customers to a webinar and offer your product/service there.

If you are still reading this, I am extremely excited and thankful to you. It means you are serious about starting your online coaching and/or training business in 2021. Go ahead and implement all the 5 steps exactly in the manner as advised above. Don’t give it more than 7 days, otherwise the momentum will get lost. We are sitting at the cusp of a new era of online education. Embrace it as soon as possible and start contributing your bit to this great change which has the potential to disrupt the conventional education system.

All the best!

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