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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 and traps to avoid. 

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

How To Work Out For Life Coaching Fees 

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

It's a question many new coaches have trouble answering easily and congruently because they are not sure of their value or what is right for their target market.

Red push button cash register

Determining your life coaching fees will depend on your experience, how you market yourself and the niche or specialty you work within.

For example, if you are a corporate coach specialising in executive mentoring then you are likely to be able to charge significantly more than if you are working with single mothers or students.

But you also need to aim for fees based on covering your expenses. 

If you don't know your expenses then I suggest setting up a simple spreadsheet that covers your living expenses.  Add 10% to each amount to allow for expense creep!

Of course this may not happen immediately as you find your coaching feet and get experience, but it's what I suggest you aim for.

You also need to allow for the  marketing expenses involved in growing your life coaching practice.

These will include, depending on your choices, items like business cards, website hosting, advertising, networking events, ongoing trainings, association memberships and so on. 

When you've worked this out, you should aim to charge enough to deliver 30% or more on all your expenses. 50% will be even better leaving you with enough to put aside for a rainy day. And, of course, again this may not happen from day one but is what you should aim for.

Fees for coaching groups

What to charge for group coaching is a frequently asked question and one that can have many answers so I hesitate to give you $numbers. It will depend on your niche and demographic. For business and corporate groups you will be able to charge more than for say a community group or a group from a low income demographic. 

For groups initiated by you, one way is to take your hourly rate and multiply it by the number length and number of group sessions you will be giving, allowing for preparation, any travel and follow-up time. 

Or if you are quoting for a group you have been asked to present to, you could charge a base rate for a given number of participants, say 10, and extra for each participant over that number.

I believe it's best to get the fee upfront so you have the commitment for the number of sessions in the group series.  

Tips For Setting Your Life Coaching Fees And Traps To Avoid

The 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".

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!

Some may set their life coaching fees as little as $USD50 an hour for individual face to face coaching while some corporate and celebrity coaches can achieve $USD1500+ a session or more. The same principle applies if you are offering life coaching packages of sessions.

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!

As a basis for any fees you have go back to the chart I suggest above and fill it out.

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

Who knows! As your practice develops, you may need to employ an assistant or to manage things for you.

All these extra expenses will also need to be taken into account for life coach prices you set.

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.

Setting Your Life Coaching Fees When You Are Starting Out

Pro Bono Services: 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, or even consulting, where you have simply added coaching 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 free, or at a reduced rate may be a good idea as 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.

Make sure you feel in exchange for free sessions

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

If you do take on some  clients for no $ payment at all, then I recommend 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?  

I've put together some really important considerations about bartering and swapping as well as reader contributions including how a virtual assistant does swapping and a swapper who has over 30 years of successful bartering so take a look when you have finished with this page.

And it's a good idea to let those practice or swap clients know what your full life life coaching fees rate will be for future clients you take on. This will make them more appreciative of the opportunity to be coached for no fee or at a reduced rate that you are offering them.

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 often more about their priorities 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 only to discover 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.

When I discovered this in the course of the coaching, I have to admit it left me feeling somewhat undervalued and cheated. Not the best place to be coming from as a coach!

So, I think it is much better to change the structure of the program, for instance the number of sessions or length of sessions,  to fit what the client is willing to pay, than discount your time and skills.

The Advantage Of Life Coaching Packages

Offering a life coaching package of sessions rather than charging by the hour or month or single session is that you get the client committed to work with you for a period of time to achieve their outcomes.

  • You can work out your packages on your hourly rate, charing less per hour the more sessions in the package so there is a real advantage to signing on for more sessions.
  • I used to offer three packages of 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 package or have single sessions as needed.  
  • By offering several packages you can make your coaching affordable to a bigger range of clients. 
  • 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 clients invariably need to reschedule which can disrupt the monthly plan. There are many different opinions on this so it's a matter of experimenting to see what works for you.

What About A Salary As A Life Coach 

If you get taken on as internal coach with a large company, a recruitment agency  you may find yourself on staff at fixed life coaching salary.  

If the salary on offer seems low, take into account you may now get holiday pay, sick leave and all the other benefits that go with being employed as against having your own practice.  And you will most likely have a steady flow of clients without the need for marketing yourself! 

Try to find out what other coaches on staff at the company you are negotiating with or other organisations directly employing  coaches are getting paid. You will then have a benchmark for negotiation. when your salary or contract review comes up.

What to charge for group coaching

Knowing what to charge for group coaching is often quite a dilemma. 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 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. 

The thing to remember is that in certain coaching situations and with the right structure, group coaching can be just as valuable as one-on-one work.

How And When To Raise Your 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.

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

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 work 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.

Banner for Magnetic Message Blueprint created by Cindy Schulson. Orange abstract colours

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 accreditation?

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 and if you don't have a method for collecting them then check out this page that covers easily asking for testimonials. Testimonials add '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 Fees

Over the years I found this method worked well:

  • The golden rule is communication, so don't ever let your increase in fees be an unannounced surprise. 
  • The increase in your fees may need to be delicately communicated to existing clients 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 to keep their fees at the original rate or with a lower increase.
  • All new clients would be at the new rate so they would not have known the old rate!

How To Calculate Life Coaching Fees For Different Countries

Many coaches in the US, Europe and Asia charge life coaching fees either by the month, for a series of sessions, or by the hour - the latter being more common in corporate coaching situations.

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

As Life Coaching Online becomes more viable for distance coaching with programs such as Skype and Zoom, some coaches are choosing to put a loading on life coaching fees for face-to-face sessions.  This is to cover the substantial travel and location expenses that can be involved when compared with online coaching.  

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.

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.

It's more transparent and the first question a prospect invariably asks at the end of an introductory session is  "how much does it cost". I certainly favour it as it served as a filter as visitors to my site could see whether they could afford my rates.

The Cons:
Many coaches feel that until you have had an introductory session, the prospective client might not realise the value of your offering and why you are charging that amount, and decide against coaching even before speaking to you.

However, if your website has properly engaging relevant content they should be pretty well sold before you speak to them. I experimented with both and founding that publishing details of my coaching packages and what they cost, worked best for me and avoided the "money conversation". 

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 contact or brief telephone calls. 

Have A Firm Refund Policy For Coaching Services

There are going to be times when a client, for whatever reason, wants a partial or complete refund so it is important that you  state your refund policy 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 $$ is, in my opinion, infinitely preferable to having a dissatisfied client who will not only speak badly of you but certainly won't refer clients.  

This is my refund policy which gives 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 find out why and if there is no hope of changing their mind 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

Click below to see contributions from other coaches...

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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