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Wendy Buckingham  /  Creator, Life Coaching Professionally

Life Coaching Fees: How To Decide What To Charge

Page Summary

Working out what to charge for life coaching depends on so many things. This page discusses how to determine your life coaching fees with tips to help get it right and traps to avoid. 

FYI: I may receive commissions at no cost to you. Please see my affiliate disclosure for more.

How To Determine What To Charge For Life Coaching

One of the most common questions you are going to be asked by prospective clients is "What does your coaching cost?"

It's a question many new coaches have trouble answering confidently and congruently. This is because maybe they are not sure of their value, or what is right for their target market or how much they need to earn from coaching to live and flourish.

Cartoon of man with hands raised in air and money bags floating among the clouds. Accompanied by title, How To Set Your Life Coaching Fees!

Working out your life coaching fees will depend to a great extent on your experience, how you market yourself and the niche and/or demographic you work within.

For example, if you are an executive coach, specialising in leadership coaching, then you will be able to charge significantly more than if you are working with financially challenged single mothers or students. 

Remember to take into account your expenses

Of course you may not be able to cover all your expenses and make a profit when you first start coaching, but it's important to know what you need to aim for if your coaching is to be financially viable.

Ideally, allow for an error of 10% in your expenses and aim for a net profit of 30% to determine your ideal coaching rate.

If you are not sure of your expenses, I suggest keeping a simple spread sheet of what you spend for a month or two. (You may get a fright 😀). It's also a good idea to decide on a ballpark figures of what marketing expenses you want to budget for. These will include, depending on your choices, items like business cards, website hosting, advertising, networking events, ongoing trainings, association memberships and so on.  .

7 Basic factors that can determine the life coaching fees you can charge

  1. How you deliver your coaching programs; i.e.  face to face, or online/phone.
  2. The frequency and length of the sessions.
  3. Whether you offer group or personal sessions.
  4. The niche or demographic you target and what they can afford or are prepared to pay.
  5. Your experience, credentials and certification level.
  6. Your personal overheads.
  7. Your location and your client's location

With the increased tendency towards online coaching through Zoom or Skype, some coaches are choosing to charge a loading if the client wants physical face-to-face coaching to compensate for time and travel considerations. Of course, this could also be marketed as a discount for coaching online rather than face-to-face.

4 Hints For New Coaches

1. Avoid the fee comparison trap 

There will always be a coach who charges more or less than you do, so don't fall into the trap of making comparisons and thinking "I should be charging more/less".

Some may set their life coaching fees at as little as $USD50 an hour for individual face to face coaching while some executive and celebrity coaches can achieve $USD1500+ a session or more. 

Comparing will only cause you stress. The chances are there is little comparison with you. You really won't know what they have used to justify their life coaching fee or if, in fact, their fee is justified at all!

Figure out what you have to charge and work from there. The more your skills develop, the more your reputation grows and the harder it is to book to  be coached by you, the more you can charge!

2. Free or reduced rates and swapping 

Many coaching schools recommend you start practicing pro bono as part of your training. (Pro Bono is a latin phrase that is commonly used to describe professional work that is done for free or as a volunteer.) 

If you come from a related discipline such as psychology or counselling, where you have simply added coaching qualifications and techniques to your skills, you may have no problem charging full life coaching fees straight away.  

But if you are coming into coaching without any related experience, then offering to coach people for  at a reduced rate, or some other exchange,  may be a good way to help you gain experience and confidence.

However, if you are really confident you know what you are doing, go for it and start charging a full rate straight away. It's whatever you feel comfortable with and whatever your niche will bear. You can always adjust up or down.

3. Make sure you feel in exchange for discounted and $$ free sessions

Even if you are inexperienced, you are trained and hopefully credibly certified as a coach. So you will be giving  valuable help to your practice clients with their challenges. If the  client is paying you a token amount, however small, they will be more inclined to take the process seriously.

And it's a good idea to let those early practice, discounted or swap clients go through the process of your coaching agreement. Also let them know what your full life life coaching fees rate will be for future clients when you start charing.  This will make them more appreciative of the opportunity to be coached for no  $$ fee or at a reduced rate.

If you do take on some clients for no $$ payment at all, then I suggest you work out some form of exchange that is of value to you. Do they have a service you would be interested in as an exchange?  In the related page on swapping your services at the bottom of this page, I enlarge on how to make bartering and swapping work for you. 

4. Don't be too quick to offer a discount

Often when a prospective client starts pushing you to reduce your fee with an "I really want to do this, but can't afford it" story, it's more about their priorities and choices than whether or not they have the money.

Man emptying his pockets to show he has no money for life coaching fees.

On two occasions early in my coaching career I fell for this and, anxious to sign up the client, seriously discounted my fee. Later I discovered that the clients were actually in a much better position financially than I was at that time.

In the first instance the client was saving for an extended overseas holiday and in the second carrying out major house renovations.

This made me feel somewhat resentful, undervalued and cheated. Not the best place to be coming from as a coach!

So, I suggest it is much better to change the structure of the coaching offered, for instance the number of sessions in a package or length of the sessions, to fit several budgets, rather than discount your time and skills.

How About Group Coaching Rates

Knowing what to charge for group coaching is often quite a dilemma. Again, it will depend on your niche and demographic. As with one-on-one coaching, for business and corporate groups you will be able to charge more than for say a community group with a low budget or a group from a low income demographic.

Many coaches follow this formula:

Say you are providing a series of six one-on-one coaching sessions for $1200. For six group coaching sessions you could charge each participant 25% ($300) earning yourself  $1800. In this scenario you need to aim for more than four in the group or you will only earn the same as coaching one-on-one. 

Of course you can vary the cost and the percentage with whatever feels right for you with what you are offering the group. For instance if your group package includes some individual coaching or other valuable add on you may feel justified in charging a higher percentage of your one-on-one fee. 

For groups you initiate and promote, I'd suggest getting the fee upfront rather than session by session. You will then have a definite commitment  for the number of sessions in the series. 

If you are asked for an organisation to quote for coaching a group, you could use the same format or charge a base rate for a given number of participants, say 10, and extra for each participant over that number.

Coaching Rates For Packages Sessions

There are advantage in offering packages of coaching sessions rather than charging as you go by session, hour or month. The client is then committed to work with you for a period of time to achieve their outcomes. Also by offering several different packages you can make your coaching affordable to a bigger range of clients.

I offered several different program options so there was something for most needs and  budgets.  The variations in your programs can be for length of sessions or number of sessions in a series and whether you include in between session email or text contact or brief telephone calls

Here are some suggestions around putting your packages together.

  • You can work out your packages on your hourly rate, charging less per hour the more sessions in the package. This means there is a real advantage to the client for signing on for a package with more sessions.
  • I used to offer three packages - three, six, and eight sessions - and found it worked to recommend the middle package of six whilst the package of three was good for those keen but on a limited budget. Of course you can decide how many sessions you want to include in your life coaching package. At the end of the series the client can either sign up for a further series or have single sessions as needed at the per sessions rate they were paying for the package.   
  • Many coaches offer monthly packages and specify how many sessions to be taken each month. I see a disadvantage of this is that "life happens" and as some clients invariably need to reschedule, this can disrupt the monthly plan. However, it's a matter of experimenting to see what works for you.

How And When To Raise Your Life Coaching Fees

A red cash register for taking life coaching fees

Let's assume you have really begun to grow in confidence as a life coach. 

You have identified your coaching niche, you have a calendar full of clients and you know from their feedback you are delivering quality results.

It could be time to increase your fees and capitalise on your experience and popularity.

Here are six ways to help you decide if the fee your are now charging is still appropriate or it is time for a raise.

1. Do some market research

If you haven't already find out what other well established  coaches in your field are charging. Keeping in mind the 'Don't Compare' edict above. Make sure what they are offering is similar to your coaching service. 

2. Review the type of clients you are working with

Have they changed since you began coaching? Have you changed your niche since you began coaching?

For example you may have attracted a more prosperous client or even feel you have grown enough as a coach to focus on a market that was more commercially rewarding for you.

get Help to identify your target market

Coaching package for Discovery Your Ideal Niche

They key to being able to charge top rates for your target market is the perception your clients have of your  expertise and value.

If identifying your target market is a challenge, I can recommend you check out Cindy Schulson's Niche Success Kit. to help you narrow down your specialty and present yourself so you will  be seen as an expert.

She has loads of free help on her Marketing From the Heart website and many visitors to this site have benefited from joining her wonderful mentor club for coaches.

3. Have you gained extra specific qualifications?

For instance have you taken extra courses in team coaching, business coaching, or even some types of therapy that compliment life coaching such as NLP (Neurolinguistic Programming.  This can make your offer of coaching more attractive and more lucrative. 

4. Have you gained extra levels of qualification?

Accreditation such as going from credentialing as, for instance, an ICF ACC, to PCC to MCC doesn't always add to your value but, it give you extra credibility which may be valued, especially in corporate situations where HR has to justify your engagement. 

5. Do you have publicly displayed testimonials?

Legitimate client testimonials to your coaching success are gold. They are  '"social proof" of your skills and act as a documentation for your credibility as a successful life coach. Display them on your website, any brochures or other promotional material you may develop. 

6. Have your own expenses risen?

Easy to overlook but just by itself, this element can be a really good reason for increasing your rates. Are you now renting office space.  Have you invested in a VA (virtual assistant) - what else. Go back up to the idea of the Excel spreadsheet that I mentioned earlier and update it.  It will tell you how much you NEED to increase your fees, irrespective of any of the other reasons in this list.

 Elegantly Increasing Your Life Coaching Rates

Over the years I found this method worked well

  • The increase in your fees may need to be delicately communicated to existing clients on a monthly agreement or about to continue at the end of a package series in a conversation. If some of them are under genuine financial stress you may even lose them and so you have to be willing for that to happen. Or you may decide to keep their fees at the original rate or with a lower increase.
  • The golden rule is communication, so don't ever let your increase in fees to existing clients be an unannounced surprise in your invoice. 
  • All new clients would, of course, be charged at the new rate so they would not have known the old rate!

Calculating Life Coaching Fees For Different Countries

Platforms such as Zoom and Skype give you the opportunity to coach clients from all over the world.

The options are to have a fixed rate for all countries in say US or UK currency or adjust to suit different cultures and economies.

A globe showing how all countries are connected

If you are planning to coach in Asia or one of the other countries where the profession is comparatively new, you may need to do some research and then use your local judgement as to what the market will accept depending on your niche..

I can't give you a blanket figure to cover all currencies, but in the US and Australia average life coaching fees for individual are somewhere between $100 and $500+, a session - maybe less in rural areas. And some executive coaches who work with large organisations are charging upwards $700 an hour.

If you are marketing your coaching worldwide, you should consider having a currency converter on your website so that prospects can immediately see your fees in their local currency. 

Is Publishing Your Coaching Rates A Good Idea?

A dilemma coaches often face is whether of not to publish their life and business coaching fees on their website or in printed brochures. Let's look at the pros and cons for both strategies.

A dilemma coaches often face is whether of not to publish their life and business coaching fees on their website or in printed brochures. Let's look at the pros and cons for both strategies.

Dice with Yes, No, Maybe about publishing life coaching rates

The pros:

The argument in favour of publishing your costs is that it tells the prospective client right up front what you charge and saves that "money conversation" that you may find uncomfortable at the end of an introductory session. 

The first question a prospect invariably asks at the end of an introductory session is  "how much does it cost". I certainly favour being upfront around fees as it served as a filter.  Visitors to my site could see whether they could afford my rates.

The Cons:
Many coaches feel that until you have had an introductory or Discovery Session, the prospective client might not realise the value of your offering and why you are charging that amount. The may, decide against engaging you as their coach even before speaking to you.

However, if your website has properly engaging relevant content they should be pretty well sold  on having you as their coach before you actually speak to them. I experimented with and founding that publishing details of my coaching packages and what they cost, worked best for me

Have A Firm Refund Policy 

There are going to be times when a client, for whatever reason, wants a partial or complete refund. And there may even be times when you want to cease coaching a client. It is, therefore, really important that your refund policy is included in your coaching agreement or contract.

However, my take is that you should be flexible on when you give a refund rather than have your policy set in stone.  Losing a few $$ infinitely preferable to having a dissatisfied client who will not only speak badly of you but certainly won't refer clients.  

This was my refund policy which gave me room to move depending on the circumstances of the refund request and how much coaching had already been done. 

"Payment is in advance unless there are special circumstances. This is because I want you to make firm commitment to lasting positive results, rather than just put a toe in the water. 

However, be assured that if the coaching really is not working out after the first two sessions for a mutually agreed and discussed reason, either of us can terminate the relationship with an appropriate refund." 

And if there is a change of mind after they have paid, but before the first session, I would try to have a conversation find out why and, if there is no hope of re-enrolling the client, graciously refund the lot.

How Did You Arrive at Your Life Coaching Fees?

There are many ways to establish Life Coaching Fees.

Will you share yours?
New coaches will be really grateful for information
on how you started charging and what you did
to get your fees to where they are now.
Please share your experience...

What other visitors have contributed about setting coaching fees

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Just Getting Started 
I am a retired, Licensed Professional Counsellor who likes to stay active. As a private practitioner in Wisconsin for nearly 20 years the majority of …

Giving away too much in the introductory session 
Cindy is someone who gives tremendous value and I have no hesitation in recommending her take on the free coaching session. Wendy Have you ever done …

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Created and written by Wendy Buckingham, Class One Productions P/L. Sydney

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