If you have been searching the internet for something, you will usually end up with a life coach site popping up in your results at some point. Life Coaching has evolved over the years and continues to change and grow – but what is life coaching, how do you choose a life coach, and what should you be aware of?

Life Coaching Past:

Life Coaching emerged noticeably about ten years ago. Most life coaching was advertised as Executive Coaching or Leadership Coaching, and corporations usually hired them for staff or individual training. With the onset of in-house corporate training teams, the need for Executive Coaches diminished, and many sought other areas to continue coaching in. Since then, life has been changed in every area of life you can think of, and life coaches specialize in one or two main living areas, but many still coach in multiple life areas. Originally, life coaches were people who had some previous work experience before going into coaching. Most executive coaches come from the corporate business world and could earn high incomes as executive or leadership coaches. Many of these past Executive Coaches have also become Client Attraction or Marketing Coaches in today’s climate. Their services are still provided to corporations, mostly small or solo businesses or individuals.

Life Coaching Now:

Life coaching is common and easy to find for businesses and individuals, and it can be called just about anything. Today, there are many life coach training schools, but there are huge disparities between education students’ qualities from school to school. There are no required educational standards that a life coach school must follow/provide, and there is no regulation of the life coach industry.

Anyone can call themselves a Life Coach and open a practice – buyer beware becomes a severe phrase to remember. A couple of professional organizations, such as the International Coaching Federation, a professional membership organization, are working diligently to establish coaching and life coach school standards and looking at types of regulations that could benefit the industry consumers.

Between 10,000 and 20,000 life coaches are now providing services to customers. An increasing number of people are pursuing the goal of becoming a life coach. Many people want to help others, but many think they can earn a tremendous amount of money while working part-time at home in their PJs. If only it were that easy. Today’s world of having a web-based business and all it entails has become very complicated, and start-up costs aren’t as cheap either. Most life coaches earn less than $20,000 a year because they don’t have enough clients.

Many coaches fail because you have to be a person who can structure their own time while working from home. When you work in a business, it provides the structure you work within. At home, there is no structure except what a person creates, and it is all too easy not to be structured. Marketing has become a huge part of daily life for life coaches, much more than ever before, and many have taken marketing to an incredible level of hard selling. Those ‘coaches’ providing marketing or small business start-up coaching have created a huge income-based industry, but it has also gained tremendous competition over the last few years.

Niche Is In:

Niche in life coaching is the current theme – a life coach ‘specializes’ in only one or a few areas. However, many life coaches would still be considered general life coaches and offer a broader range of coaching services. The market is pushing life coaches to have specific niches quite hard and explains that the public prefers ‘specialists’ and is willing to pay more for them. It is like the medical profession; you have generalists with a smaller focus, specialists with a broad focus, and specialists with particular focus topics. So, everyone entering coaching is told to have a niche: life coaching, client attraction, marketing, public relations, Christian, organization, health, financial, and many more areas that ‘coaching’ offers.

Buyer Beware:

Throughout my research, I was amazed at how few life coaches will post their prices, but perhaps even more importantly, they do not publish their educational or work experience! I don’t know about you, but I’m not interested in sharing my dreams and goals with someone unless they are qualified. That means having work, life, and educational experience in their ‘niche’ or coaching areas. I’ve asked many other coaches; some are very well-known and successful. I’ve been told that education and experience are not important!

So, I guess from that, if someone worked at the local animal shelter and didn’t graduate from high school, they are just as well qualified to provide life coaching services to everyone else. Not in my book. We check out loads of information before buying a car, choosing a doctor, and even purchasing a mattress. Why wouldn’t it mean something about a life coach’s education and work/life experience? So, buyer beware!


Life Coaching

Marketing and using psychology to sell, whether on the web or in ‘real life, is something every business uses. Unfortunately, the web is unregulated, and you cannot check things out and be secure that the information you get is honest and truthful. There is no Consumer Reports or Better Business Bureau for the Internet. The science of selling is intense and is geared at getting visitors to give an e-mail address for a ‘gift, so they have you in the mailing database; use words and colors to attract you and make you ‘trust’ them, offer free material to read and low priced items and then you’ll receive e-mails about teleseminars, videos, guest speakers, and high-cost products/memberships/mentorships and mastermind groups.

Many coaches are genuine, but how do you tell the difference without making many painful, expensive, and time-consuming mistakes? Also, read the fine print; many web businesses do not offer guarantees or refunds. Look for coaches who belong to national organizations, who post their credentials (experience and education), and whether they graduated from a life coaching or coaching program or school. You can’t trust testimonials often. A business may have provided services to hundreds, but you will only see the few who wrote glowing testimonials. A site with ratings is great but can be doctored; asking to speak to a former client is the best way to check out a particular coach business, even though many former clients are better. I hope there will be some review system devised someday, as in your community, word gets around quickly about a company, but on the internet, you don’t have that check and balance system available. So, buyer beware!

Why people should try Life Coaching:

Life Coaching is an awesome way for people to stay motivated, keep their focus, gain self-insights, and strive to achieve their goals. Life Coaching deals with the here and now and goes forward from there; it is an action-based, co-active coaching style that is not like therapy, which deals with past life events and more psychological issues. A life coach should have the educational/work/life experiences and tools necessary to meet the needs of their customers, and if not, then say so and refer the customer to a life coach who does.

I recently tried to start a referral network at the life coach school I attended so that others and I would know where to refer a customer if I felt another could better meet their needs. Only two other coaches felt secure enough to put their strengths out there – no one else! Today’s busy, fast-paced world is often filled with stress, little personal support, and difficulty achieving your goals or solving problems. Life Coaching is a great means to help people achieve their goals, solve problems, and get the support they need so that life is less difficult and, overall, improved.

What to look for in a Coach:

As a customer choosing a life coach, tips for you include knowing ahead of time what you want to achieve with a life coach and answering how a coach can best work with you and you with them. It is also helpful to have an idea of how long you are willing to be in coaching before you expect to achieve your results and how much you can afford; research different life coach websites and their articles, newsletters and check out their education/work/life experience and training; interview three other coaches – include in the discussion all your questions on expertise, prices, examples of accomplishments related to your goal.

How long do they think it would take to achieve your goal? Explain how you prefer to work with a coach and ask what their style of coaching is; ask for two references that had destinations similar to yours; and most importantly, make sure the life coach you choose is one that you ‘connect’ with or that ‘feels right to you. Other possible questions can be asking what the life coach feels are their strengths and weaknesses. Also, be cautious if you get the impression that the life coach may end up ‘telling you what to do’ or pressuring you into goals or avenues you do not want, and they seem more on the coach’s agenda than yours.

Life coaching is supposed to be about the customer, what they want to achieve, and their learning/growing/achieving style through reaching their goals. It is not about the life coach. Every life coach’s goal should be to put themselves out of business. If coaching were done well, fewer people would eventually need it. As the saying goes, ‘Teach them to fish rather than feeding them fish, and they will never go hungry. Costs for life coaching services can typically run $300-$600 a month, and some will go to $300 or more an hour. Some coaches earn $18,000 an hour. Ask if the life coaches you check out don’t publish their costs.

What is the future of Life Coaching?

Where is Life Coaching going in the future? While the economy and the increasing stress of everyday life are severely hurting the quality of people’s lives, life coaching will continue to grow in the number of people it serves and the number of life coaches entering the field. The number of people utilizing the web and becoming web-based businesses will increase the number of coaches who provide marketing and client attraction and start business services.


One of the newer life coaching waves is ‘Wellness Coaching, ‘which is similar to health coaching. I am concerned that many entering this ‘niche’ receive only 20 hrs of training. Many life coaches practicing health or wellness coaching have not checked their state’s laws on what they can and cannot coach on in this ‘niche.’ A life coach cannot treat, diagnose, cure, prescribe, or provide counseling. As a Holistic Practitioner, Certified Life Coach, and Licensed Social Worker, I fear people receiving life coaching services on health-related subjects from life coaches with so little background in health. Thus, the potential for harm to the customer may occur. This is my concern and opinion, which some share but others do not. The pressure for more specific specialization, ‘niching,’ will also likely increase.


Will social media change the face of coaching? That’s unknown at this time. There are many blogs, and for now, people can access support for their specific needs and meet and get to know other people interested in the same things. The world has gotten smaller, and finding people to talk to on the web is much easier, yet we are more isolated in our ‘real’ lives than ever before.

I envision the complexities of marketing, including free giveaways, membership groups, increased administrative time (which means less time for coaching), hard-selling, and heavy marketing, will continue to grow. I envision there will be expanded Coaching Schools that provide coaching education that gives core basics for all types of coaching and additional instruction in specific specialty types of coaching.

These will greatly lead to better-qualified service providers. I found it amazing how many coaches came out of the computer field, from computer programming, IT support, web design, etc. I hope that something can be done to make sure life coaches’ competency, skill, education, and experience become more uniform. It is not as much a ‘shooting in a barrel’ experience for customers to find truly skilled and dedicated coaches.