How to build an audience as a new coach
If you’re a new coach starting out after the question ‘how do I get clients?’ the question of how to build an audience is probably next on the list! Building an audience can of course help you get clients but what it also does is create the foundations for a sustainable business going forward where you have more opportunities to leverage your time by working with more people than just 1-2-1.
What is an audience?
Some people will see this as the number of people who like your Facebook Business page or who follow you on Instagram – and of course this is helpful. But when I think of an audience being built for my business I think about the email list as that is something you own and have control over. When all of your audience is based on social media, you’re in a more vulnerable position – what if your account gets suspended or the algorithm changes?
It’s still great to build a social media following or even having people to read your blog or watch your Youtube videos, but what I’d always recommend is that the end goal is moving those people on to your list.
Where to start
Ok, so now that we know the name of the audience growing game is growing that email list where do we start when you’re a fresh out of training school coach?
I’m going to contradict myself here a bit and say start with social media! This is because it’s the easiest place to start, especially if you don’t have a website just yet. It gives you the opportunity to get used to putting out content and get comfortable with your messaging. Don’t be afraid to start up a social media account even if you’re not 100% certain on your niche – this can be tweaked and pivoted if required as your business grows.
Starting here also means you gain some people you can use for market research in terms of finding out more about their problems and struggles which can be useful further down the line. There’s also absolutely no reason why you can’t see if some of those followers become clients even when you’re just getting started.
Eventually we’ll want to encourage social media followers to become email subscribers, but for now it’s a great place to start.
Second to social media would be actually getting yourself out and about in real life – you might not be hitting the same kind of numbers as you can online, but forming 2 or 3 in person connections who are part of your audience (ask them if they’d like to join your list, even if it’s not set up yet!) can be super valuable.
Your website and email list
Your website and email list should be the core part of your business in terms of audience building. Ideally you’ll be growing your social media audience while you’re getting your website set up.
Don’t forget, if the whole idea of websites, branding and getting clear on your niche feels overwhelming – I got you! Check out my free Success Action Plan for new coaches which walks you though the whole process of getting set up as a coach.
Setting up an email list
I used to recommend people start with Mailchimp as their first email list provider but they’ve made a few changes lately that just make it super confusing as well as making some fairly basic functionality a paid service. Now I recommend Mailerlite as a much better place to start, or maybe Convertkit* if you know you’ll be wanting to grow your business quite fast.
Creating a lead magnet that actually works
A lead magnet is basically some kind of valuable offer that you give people for free to encourage them to sign up for your email list – a bit like this.
This is where going back to your audience on social media is handy because you can ask them what they’d find helpful and then go and create it which gives you that direct way of moving them from follower to subscriber.
A lead magnet can be a PDF guide, an audio recording like a meditation, a mini e course or a video masterclass – there’s lots of different options but consider what is going to appeal to your ideal clients and what they’d actually be able to get a quick win from. If they’re busy mums, a 30 page PDF might not be quite right, but a 4 page checklist of things they can implement there and then would be.
Once you have your lead magnet it’s time to hook up all the tech elements so that when someone gives you their details on your site, they get emailed the lead magnet. It can also be really helpful to have a sequence of emails that are sent out after the lead magnet to help people get to know you and your services.
As well as having sign up boxes in prominent places on your website you’ll want to create a stand alone landing page you can send people to who just want to sign up – this is the link you’d share in your bio on Instagram or send people to on Facebook.
Ok, so at this point you will have been growing your audience on social media, you will be engaging with them (see below) and asking them questions about the things they’re struggling with. You will have a website and created a lead magnet that you know will help your ideal clients (because you asked them!) and you’ve shared it on social media – hopefully you now have a few people on your list!
A few notes on growing your social media following
This could be a separate post in itself – but a few quick pointers based on where I see people getting stuck:
- Choose to focus on one key platform that makes sense for your business, i.e where you think your people will be hanging out
- Don’t be afraid of trying video – it’s really effective
- It’s not enough to just post a couple of times a week with a few hashtags – you have to put the social in social media and that means commenting on others posts – especially on Instagram. Facebook is a little more tricky and you might need to think about groups v business pages etc. But basically don’t forget to do the engagement!
At this stage you should have a really good foundation in place – from here you have multiple options when it comes to strategies to grow that audience. Here’s a few things I’ve seen work in my business and work for the women in my Wholehearted Business Club.
Pinterest + blogging – this has worked amazingly well for my health coaching business. I’ve literally had thousands of new subscribers come in via my blog posts being shared over there. There are some things you need to have in place but once those are in, Pinterest can be fab.
Facebook ads – if you have the budget, running some ads to your lead magnet is a proven way to grow your audience. The downside is that it can be costly and a bit of a pain in the arse to figure out!
Live video / video + a call to action to sign up for lead magnet – if video is your bag then doing regular lives where the call to action is signing up for the lead magnet can work well – this can also work for Youtube.
Regularly posting about your lead magnet on social media – don’t be afraid to share your lead magnet more than once on social media – give people plenty of opportunities to sign up and get them moved from follower to subscriber.
Word of mouth! – it might be old school but it works! Tell people you know about what you do and invite them on to your list. If you want to go more digi with it use a similar technique in Facebook groups where sharing your freebie is allowed in the group rules.
We cover all of those strategies and more in the training inside my Wholehearted Biz Club.
I’m going to be honest, growing an audience these days does take time, but with consistency and the right strategies you can really speed things up. Remember that an engaged audience = more clients and a more sustainable long term business going forward!
I hope this has been helpful and give you loads to think about! How have you tried to grow your audience so far? Where have you struggled?
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