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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, best ways to get paid, help to 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 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 both nationally and internationally.

With the increased tendency towards online coaching through Zoom or Skype, even phone, 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 In Setting Life Coaching Rates

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! High fees are not necesarrily a guarantee of better coaching.

Figure out what you have to charge to make a profit and work from there. Of course in the early days, until you build a client base, you may not even cover expenses. However, 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  

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 to find that sweet spot.

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 charging.  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 my page about bartering and swapping your services (see the link at the bottom of this page), I enlarge on how to make swapping your coaching services work for you. 

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

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

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. And as a new coach it is easy to fall for this.

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.

Payment Methods For Your Coaching and Avoiding Hidden Fees

If you only have clients in your own country, then how you get paid is pretty simple.  There maybe fees involved for direct debit, checks and online services such as Paypal, but they are  transparent and easy to follow. 

However, when it comes to getting paid by international clients, whether for your coaching or products, it’s a different matter and needs much more attention to detail if you are to get the best deal.

Getting paid for life coaching by clients in other countries

There are two ways you can ask a client to pay you internationally; direct debit into your account and using an online service. 

Online payments are popular, safe and relatively easy to set up and there are several excellent services. Who you choose will depend on how secure and reputable they are and how much you are prepared to pay in fees.

In these days of high (often hidden) international transaction charges and online payment methods, it is worth shopping around for the best deal. What may look like small fees on individual transactions, can really add up and reduce your income.

Online payment methods including the popular PayPal or Stripe are are certainly fee free for the customer – your coaching client - but can be relatively expensive for you, the coach, especially if you have an international client base.  

However, even received payments in your own currency can attract fees if you are using an online service. I am sure you have seen the fees in your Activity log!

Spotting the hidden fees with Paypal and Stripe

As well as the standard transaction fee, which will vary depending on your country, there is also a hidden fee that most people don’t know about when you transfer from Paypal or Stripe to your own local bank account.

Here’s how it works. I am using a UK (GBP) to US (USD) example though the same principle applies between other countries.

Let’s say you live in the UK and you have a client in the US who you have charged US1000 for a coaching program.

If a client sends you the US1000 using PayPal or Stripe, you are charged an initial fee based on the amount the client has sent.

But you then need to transfer it to your local bank account which will attract an extra hidden currency exchange expense even though the services have told you it will be free. 

Wherever possible I always suggest discussing your fees in the client's local currency. If you start talking about your own currency it is often difficult for them to equate the value and even to figure out how much to pay you. If you publish your fees, maybe also provide a link to a currency converter they can use.

How payment providers hide their fee

Currency exchange rates fluctuate all the time. To determine how much you will receive in your local currency, the service transferring your money use what is called the mid-market rate.

This is a rate in between the price that bankers are willing to pay and willing to buy a currency for at any one time.

You can read more about mid-market rate – all in plain English – right here on the Wise Website.  Wise is my preferred platform for international transactions.

Unfortunately there are only a handful of services that actually use the mid market rate and charge you a transparent fee. Wise is one of them.

Some services transfer the money at a lesser rate, meaning it costs you more. It may only be small amounts but they all add up

An example of hidden charges

Here is an example of how these hidden fees are created using a USD1,000 transfer to a UK bank account in Pound Sterling (GBP)

Note: These figures are at the time of writing and will change as the exchange rate changes. And, of course, there will be variations between other countries.

The mid-market exchange rate between the USD and the GBP was .747GBP. This means that for every $US1 you would have received a little over $.74pence.

Paypal, Stripe and the Banks don’t charge you the mid-market rate. They make the transfer at a poorer rate based on the mid -market rate thus reducing the amount you can potentially receive.

This means that, using my example, if you had transferred your USD$1000 coaching fees from PayPal to your UK bank account, you would have received GBP692 from PayPal – an extra loss in addition to the currency exchange rate of nearly 5%

How you can safely avoid these hidden fees

I avoid these hidden fees and currency transfers by using an excellent, safe international service called Wise (formerly Transferwise) for most of our international transactions.

The Wise platform allows you to open and use an account in any currency you wish. In the case of our example, you would choose to open an account in US$ and could then withdraw, pay bills or whatever from that account, in US$.  You can also transfer the US funds to your account in your local currency using the mid-market rate with an additional, stated fee.

Following the example above, you would have received GBP746 if you had asked the client to pay into your Wise bank account.  This is a difference of GBP54.

There are also no fees when you receive payments into your Wise account. This is because Wise has the facility for you to setup multiple accounts each receiving funds in the currency you do business in. 

You can even have a debit card that enables you to withdraw from an ATM.

GBP$54 may not seem a lot but when you add it up to multiple regular international transactions, sometimes bigger, it makes a massive difference.

Wise is an international banking service that has saved us hundreds, even thousands of dollars a year in fees. I recommend you investigate and consider it as a safe, secure option for your future international transactions. 

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 recommend getting the fee upfront rather than session by session. You will then have a definite commitment  for the number of sessions in the series. You can of course offer a refund policy which I go into more in on my related page on life coaching agreements, at the bottom of this page.

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 wider 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 could 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, your coaching calendar is full and you know from the 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 you 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 started to attract 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.

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

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.

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

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...

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

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