School of Coaching Mastery

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Your Million-Dollar Coach Has Been Recalled By the Manufacturer

Posted by Julia Stewart

Million Dollar Coach

Yesteryday, Coach Maryam Webster shared some 'million dollar coaching for conscious business owners' on Facebook. Of course, what she really did, was warn the innocent away from a predatory type of 'coaching'. Her message included:

''Before buying into any six figure type training, ask to see the teacher's financials...Then run. Far away from cookie cutter trainings and teachers like this...Forget the 6 and 7 figure coach, author & speaker trainings. Those who make money their central theme are playing on your basic survival fears..."

Be sure to read the entire conversation on Maryam's Page (you may need to log in to Facebook, first) before you spend a dime on programs like these, because they are almost always scams...

As I said in my reply to Maryam, I've written on this topic a number of times. I shared several horror stories here. I wrote more recently on the meaninglessness of titles such as 'life coach', here. Do read these posts before working with a 'wealth coach', 'million-dollar coach', 'six-figure coach', 'seven-figure coach', or anybody who calls him/herself a 'coach'. You could save yourself thousands of dollars and years of heartache.

Some of these so-called 'coaches', gurus and teachers have been sued by the likes of the US Securities and Exchange Commission. Others have gone to prison. Their victims have been emotionally devastated, bankrupt, lost their homes, or even lost their lives.

It's a serious problem, but not an easy one to fix. Coaching has a reputation for being high-paid, but to my knowledge, it's still not regulated by any government in the world. Plus most people don't know what it is, except that it involves people talking to each other. That makes it the perfect get-rich-quick scheme for any sociopath who can talk. There are an awful lot of them out there.

Genuine coaches provide valuable services and are nearly always certified by reputable coaching schools and professional associations. They have testimonials from real people you can talk to. Their clients rave about them and you can find them online and research their reputations. Coaches who are certified by the ICF or IAC are usually a good bet. And I stand behind the coaches who are certified by School of Coaching Mastery.

So why's there a kitten in the picture, above? He's Josey, an abandoned formerly feral baby cat we found half-starved, terrified and awfully lonely. He was desperate enough to let some gigantic strange creatures take him in and feed him and now he's a delightful member of the household. Josey was lucky. Imagine what could have happened to him if a sociopath found him, instead of a family of animal lovers.

When you have a dream of building a 'conscious business', or of answering your calling, or even of becoming wealthy by sharing your brilliance with those who want or need it, you're as vulnerable, and often, as innocent as a kitten. You probably need help from someone who can help facilitate your dream, such as a good coach, but you and your dream can be destroyed by a greedy sociopath. Be careful who you share your dreams with!

Today, Gina Spadafori shared on Facebook that P&G has voluntarily recalled the type of kitten food I feed to Josey. It may be contaminated with salmonella. He was lucky again, because his chow was made in a different batch.

It got me thinking how great it would be if we could recall toxic 'coaches'. It would save a lot of innocent people from being preyed upon. And it would definitely improve the reputation of the coaching profession.

But fake coaches manufacture themselves. They remind me of Sturgeon's Law: 90% of anything is crap. That doesn't mean the top 10% isn't fantastic. In my opinion, million-dollar coaches occupy the bottom 10% of the crap pile.

There is no way to wipe them all out, but you can protect yourself. Stay out of free, or suspiciously low-fee, seminars and webinars. They are designed to get you to spend irrationally. Don't be swayed by money-back guarantees. They usually mean nothing.

Instead, work with certified coaches and get recommendations.

Maryam asked me online what we should do about this problem. I'd like to see a coordinated marketing campaign by coaches, coach-training schools and professional coaching associations that warns the public about unscrupulous coaching practices and how to hire a good coach. I'm not the person to organize this. Do you know someone who is?

If you care about people in general and the coaching profession specifically, please share this blog post or voice your own opinions online. You could save someone from making a horrible mistake.

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Topics: life coach, ICF, Business Coaches, IAC Certified Coach, certified coaches, coach training schools, Million Dollar Coach, teleclass, six-figure coaches, six-figure coaching business

3 Major Upgrades You Must Make to Become a Group Coach

Posted by Julia Stewart

Group CoachingIf you want to become a group coach and enjoy smooth sailing, you need to make three major upgrades, first. Make these three important upgrades and you and your clients will experience the power of groups and coaching success - and you'll be a happy coach.

Why would you want to become a group coach, anyway? Most coaches offer a variety of services within their businesses and group coaching is often the first additional service, beyond one-to-one coaching, that they add, because it allows them to leverage their time, offer a lower-priced option, while making more money. And clients may get even more value from a coaching group, than from personal coaching, so it's a win-win all around.

Here are the 3 Major Upgrades You Need to Make to Become a Successful Group Coach:

Upgrade #1: Your coaching skills. Ten years ago, when I first became a group coach, I thought group coaching would be easy for me to add to my business, because I had been facilitating groups for decades as a college professor. And although my first foray into group coaching was so successful that I had to immediately add a second group to make room for all my clients, I found that coaching a group is much more challenging than I had expected.

Many group coaches make the mistake of leading a workshop or teleclass, instead of coaching a group and they miss the opportunity to customize the experience for each group member. I knew the distinction, but had to learn the hard way how to run a genuine coaching group. It's not as easy as it looks.

Let's face it, most workshops and teleclasses sell for far less money than group coaching; some are even free. If you're going to charge the average group coaching fee of $200 per month, per person, for 4-8 people to coach with you 3-4 hours per month, you need to provide far more value and personalization for each member than you would in a workshop or teleclass. Learn these advanced skills and hit the ground running with your very first group.

Upgrade #2: Your marketing. Lead great coaching groups and you'll have 4-8 times as many happy clients raving about you and your coaching. That's the good news. Filling groups has its own set of challenges. You'll need to reach more people who want to work with you in a group and they need to be able to meet at the same time each week. One common frustration to filling coaching groups is that you'll sometimes attract people who really want to join your group, but can't meet at the same time. This means you need to get really smart about attracting the right people, so you always have a group of eager potential clients with whom to fill your coaching groups - and you need to get smart about scheduling them.

Will you attract group coaching clients with an amazing blog that's optimized for search engines? Or maybe you should attract them by becoming a networking whiz. Or maybe your speaking skills will attract coaching groups to you. Be extra smart: develop multiple ways for clients to find you.

Upgrade #3: Business Administration. Once you start coaching groups, you need to expand your administrative tools and practices. Even getting paid gets dizzyingly complicated if you don't have a great system in place. Get an online payment gateway to manage your clients' payments. Get an email system to keep them up-to-date (and also use it for marketing). Get a virtual assistant if you're not tech savvy (or don't want to be). You'll also need an upgraded approach to scheduling. It's much harder to get 8 people together at the same time than just two.

If you'd like to learn more about coaching groups, sign up for the upcoming Q&A: How to Coach Groups class coming up in two weeks. If you're really serious, take our Group Coaching Mastery course or join the Become a Certified Group Coach program. (Your 'How to Coach Groups' fee can be applied to the course and program if you decide to join them later.)

Register for How to Coach Groups

Topics: group coaching, mentor coach, becoming a certified coach, How to Become a Certified Coach, How to, teleclass

3 Reasons to Not Participate in Affiliate Marketing Programs

Posted by Julia Stewart

Affiliate marketing programs

This Spring I made a conscious choice not to participate in an affiliate marketing program that made School of Coaching Mastery some money last year. In fact, I've decided to avoid future telesummits and most marketing partnerships that come my way and...maybe it's none of my business, but I think you should, too. Here's why...

Actually first, let me answer the question, "What is an affiliate marketing program?" Affiliate marketing programs are strategic partnerships which "leverage the power of the list", meaning they leverage the combined power of mailing lists when two or more coaches/internet marketers/gurus team up to promote products. A key example of this is the coaching telesummit, which usually offers free teleclasses or webinars, that upsell to paid information products. 

Number 1 Reason to Avoid Affiliate Marketing Programs: The program may benefit you financially in the short run, but be a disservice to your clients and members of your mailing list...and that could be a financial disservice to you in the long run. 

Here's an example: Recently, a client of mine mentioned something that he could use that a coaching colleague of mine does very well, so I mentioned her to him, not for an affiliate fee, but because I know she could help in this area. My colleague happens to be involved in a lot of telesummits. My client was already familiar with her and said, "No thanks. I used to be on her list, but I got bombarded by email marketing messages from her and from a lot of other people, as well, so I unsubscribed from all of them." He was tired of getting several marketing come-ons everyday. They were confusing and annoying and turned him off from potentially working with this talented coach. Now, I've decided not to recommend her anymore. That's what I mean about affiliate marketing being a disservice to your potential clients and ultimately to you, as well.

Number 2 Reason to Avoid Affiliate Marketing Programs: Unless you know all the people involved in the program, you may inadvertently be recommending low-quality products and services that reflect poorly on you. In my case, if a fellow coach, who has a track record for only recommending the best, recommends someone to me, I follow up on that recommendation and if it turns out well, I think even more highly of them. But if a colleague recommends a coach who disappoints, I think a little less of both of them and I make a mental note to ignore future recommendations.

For example: Last year, I signed up School of Coaching Mastery as an affiliate of a large coaching summit, because some good people were involved. I emailed my list to try out the free teleclasses and I tried out some of them, myself. With only one exception, I thought the teleclasses were just the usual cr*p. Several of my students mentioned being disappointed by them, as well. 

Here's something you need to know: once you decide to become a professional coach, you are ripe for the picking by untold numbers of coaches, consultants, marketers, webmasters, trainers and more, who know you're going to need products and services to build your business. There are a handful of folks who do extraordinary work...and there are thousands of me-too folks who want a piece of the action, even if they have nothing of real value to offer. Too often, telesummits are larded with the latter.

The telesummit in my example was well designed and they paid promptly. It was just enough money for me to consider doing it again, but it didn't pass my personal test for whether I should market something: Does it offer genuine value to my clients and potential clients? Or will it likely confuse them, waste their time, or talk them into buying services that aren't useful?

Number 3 Reason to Avoid Affiliate Marketing Programs: You may waste your own time and never get paid. Last year I was contacted by a coach I knew via social networking who pitched a product to me that she said would help my students. Normally, I would have ignored an email like that, but a student of mine had just ask me if something of that sort was available, so I checked it out. It was business-management software for coaches that included a coaching website. It looked pretty slick, so I agreed to talk to her about it.

Long story short: she offered me a free membership and what seemed like a great affiliate opportunity and it really looked like it would be helpful to my students. I spent six months promo-ing what I called a coaching-business-in-a-box to my mailing list. Quite a few people signed up, although a few of them told me they didn't like it, because it was too clunky and they could do the same tasks more easily without it. I eventually dropped it for the same reasons and...the company never paid me. I emailed the owners about it a couple of times and they never even replied to my emails! In my book that is: Really. Bad. Business. So now they're on my sh*t list and maybe, just maybe, I'm on someone else's list because I recommended them. I can say I'm sorry, but it might be too late.

So there you have 3 reasons to think twice before participating in affiliate marketing programs. Because they may be a disservice to your clients, or reflect poorly on you, or simply give you a lot of unpaid work to do.

It may surprise you (or maybe it won't) that School of Coaching Mastery has its own affiliate marketing program. Why?

Well here's an example: recently, a former member asked me if he could join my affiliate marketing program for Coach 100, because, as he said in his message to me, “Coach 100 was the best thing I ever did to get off to a fast start in my coaching business!” He knows me, knows the program and has seen the results and wants to share it. That's the kind of referral that works well for everyone involved and I'm happy to pay a fee to members who recommend us.

But here's the thing: you can make more money and experience more fulfillment by coaching your own clients. Recommend others based on value and supplement your coaching income by serving instead of leveraging a marketing scheme.

If you'd like to know more about Coach 100...

Download Your Free Coach 100 eBook

 

Topics: coaching business, School of Coaching Mastery, Coaches, Coach 100, coaching clients, webinar, testimonials, teleclass, Marketing for life coaches, marketing, internet

Become a Business Coach: Shut Up and Listen

Posted by Julia Stewart

If you want to become a business coach, your best strategy is to shut up and listen. Yes, what you know matters, but less than you think. Listening is your key to helping others succeed.

Watch this TEDx video with Ernesto Sirolli, Founder of the Sirolli Institute, on how you can't help anyone unless you first listen.

This is true whether you're coaching them or selling coaching to them. To learn more, click the button to join Business Coach, Master Sales Coach and Provocateur, Mattison Grey, MCC; for a free teleclass on how to Stop Talking & Get More Clients.

But first, get inspired by Ernesto's impassioned talk. You'll love it!

 

Register for FREE: Stop Talking & Get More Clients

Topics: business coach, become a business coach, Free, Mattison Grey, TED, sales and marketing coaches, teleclass, MCC

Why Online Coach Training is Better Than In-Person Coach Training

Posted by Julia Stewart

Online Coach TrainingIf you're thinking about becoming a coach, then you're probably wondering whether you should get online coach training or in-person business and life coach training.

It's an incredibly important issue for you, because it impacts your career, your passion and your ability to make a great living. So be sure to get this right.

I may be biased, but I've experienced coach training in virtually every possible format, so I have a useful perspective to share with you and I've concluded that online coach training is best for the following reasons...

REASON #1: MONEY. Most professional coaches-to-be are concerned about the money they spend on coach training and rightly so. However, ultimately you also need to be concerned with your Return On Investment (ROI), which refers to how much more money you'll make as a coach and how soon. Because depending on your training, your life coach salary could range from zero to hundreds of thousands of dollars per year. That's huge.

In person coach training almost always involves travel and lodging costs in addition to the training itself. And because hotels and classrooms are expensive for coaching schools, in-person coach training almost always carries higher tuition costs, as well, sometimes as much as $20,000 or more.

Plus, in-person business and life coach training tends to be offered in short workshops and seminars, that last as little as a weekend or even one day. The event itself may be great, but if you've ever gone to a seminar, workshop or conference, learned fabulous new stuff and were certain that it would change your life - only to go home and find yourself living your same old life one week later, then you understand the 'extinction principle' which says that even great training wears off massively if not followed by systems and environments that support change. Which means your $20,000 coach training may leave you inspired, but with no viable coaching business. That's bad ROI.

By contrast, online coach training usually costs less, involves no travel, time off from work, lodging costs, traffic jams or other delays. Just show up for class from where ever you are. And since online coach training is usually ongoing, you'll have supportive systems and structures to help you succeed, built right into the process. You're likely to spend less on training, start making money as a coach sooner and make more money overall. That's great ROI.

REASON #2: TIME. I just touched on time, above, but here are some more time-related issues to think about: While it's important to optimize your training time, your brain will absorb what you learn better and you'll learn to apply what you learn more quickly if you spend a couple of hours per week in class and then apply your lessons to your own coaching business during the week.

It would be great if you could just go to a weekend seminar and walk out ready to be a successful coach, but as a smart savvy person, you know transforming your life means changing a myriad of old habits to new ones. That takes time.

A few dedicated learning hours per week, stretched out over a couple of months - or even a couple of years - will allow you to take what you've learned and begin applying it in your life and business, especially when your coaching school includes reinforcing structures, such as study groups, mentor coaching, online forums, and most of all, live online classes with homework. (By the way, that's exactly how effective business and life coaching works: you have a live conversation with a client, who experiences life-changing insights with you. Then they go out and apply those insights to their life or business and report the results to you. Rinse and repeat.)

As Aristotle said, “We are what we habitually do. Excellence then is a habit, not an act.”

REASON #3: LEARNING. I mentioned the learning issue above, but here's a deeper look at that. Most folks assume the they will learn more in in-person training, but that's usually because they haven't experienced high-quality distance learning. I'm not talking about turning in written papers online and I'm not talking about audio CDs and MP3s. While those can be helpful adjunct tools for training, nothing beats live, conversational classes for learning coaching. Let's face it: coaching is live in-the-moment conversations, followed by strategic action. That's what effective coach training is, as well.

I'm also not talking about teleclasses, which are still a popular training format in some of the older coaching schools. And I'm not talking about standard webinars, which usually involved little or no conversation in a class. Today's technology allows us to do everything in what I call a 'tele-webinar' that we can do in person, except shake hands (or get stuck in traffic).

Tele-webinar training is perfect for learning business and life coaching, because it allows you to join from anywhere, using your iPad, computer, and/or telephone; and have a highly interactive conversational class that allows you to learn in whatever learning style works best for you: audio learning, visual (in the form of slides, live demos, co-browsing, videos, etc.), questions and answers, live practice and feedback, downloading materials before, during or after class, move your body, take notes, take an instant test, go out and apply it along with class colleagues, whatever learning strategy works best for you. Little by little, you learn new habits of excellence and get inspired by your own, and your classmates' successes. Together, you succeed.

If you'd like to get started learning to be a successful coach and get life coach certification quickly, using the tele-webinar format, try Coaching Groundwork Advanced.

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Topics: business coach, coach training, life coach salary, ENVIRONMENT, coaching schools, teleclass, Life Coaching, how to become a coach, In-person coach training, online coach training

The Truth About Coach Training

Posted by Donna Steinhorn

Coach TrainingIn 2008 Donna Steinhorn and Julia Stewart led a teleclass series on The Big Fat Lies That Coaches Cling To. The following article, written by Donna, is an adaptation from one of those teleclasses...

When Julia and I started out coaching, it was pretty easy to decide about coaching schools since there were only a few to choose from.  And for the most part, the handful of coach training schools were all ICF accredited and the only certification in town was the ICFs.  So basically the decision came down to live training or teleclass training. 
 
But times have changed.  Today there are over 100 coaching programs.  6 month programs and two year programs.  Accredited programs and programs without accreditation.  Certification programs through universities.  Live training, Teleclass training, hybrid versions, CD versions.  There are programs specifically for therapists transitioning to coaching, Christian Coaches.  Peer coaches.  Corporate coaching training, business coach training, life coaching training….and the list goes on.  The same is true for certifications.  There are the “independent” credentialing bodies of the IAC and the ICF.  The schools who credential their coaches…the certification courses.  
 
Lie: I need to have a coaching certification….Having letters of certification after my name assures potential clients of my expertise.


Truth: Clients have no idea what any of the letters after coaches' names are.  Unlike JD or MD, or PhD, there are hundreds of different designations and other than coaches, not many clients know what an ACC, PCC, MCC or IAC-CC are.  Nor for the most part do they care.  Now that is beginning to change as our profession matures, and a few universities have begun to create degreed curriculum in coaching.  But for now, most of the university programs are certificate programs, and even the Masters in Applied Positive Psychology at Penn State is not actually a university accredited program.
 
On the other hand, there are increasingly more corporations and companies that are looking for credentialed coaches.  Some don’t really care what kind of certification that is, while others do actually seek an ICF credentialed coach, so if you are a corporate coach, you will want a credential.  

And the truth is, as the coaching profession continues to mature, I believe credentials will become increasingly more important.  The question remains, which credential will that be?  Right now, the ICF has been around longer, but there are some who point to the fact that in order to become an ICF credentialed coach, you have to attend an ICF accredited school, and be mentored by an ICF credentialed coach.  They question how truly independent that makes the ICF.
 
The IAC is still in it’s infancy, but since they do not accredit schools, they have a greater degree of independence when it comes to their credentialing process.  And of course, as the universities build out their coaching curriculum, there is always the possibility that a uniform credential will come out of that, but only time will tell.
 
Next, let’s address a very popular lie... 

Lie: You need to finish your coach training and be certified before you can coach

Truth:  Not only do you not have to be certified before you begin coaching, but in the case of the ICF, you must verify hours coaching in order to achieve any of the certifications, and in the case of the IAC, you're more likely to pass if you have had a good deal of coaching experience.
 
Now I’m not saying that with no coach training you should hang out your shingle as a coach.  It’s best to have some core training under your belt, to have experienced coaching yourself with a qualified coach --not a buddy coach --(I’m always astonished at people who want to be coaches but don’t see the value of coaching for themselves??) and to have had some practicum experience, coaching and being coached while be observed by a credible mentor coach.
 
By way of illustration, I’ve taught and mentored hundreds of coaches, and talked with hundreds more.  I’ve conducted practicums, certified coaches, and listened to hundreds or hours of coaches coaching.  And I have to tell you, there’s good coaching, great coaching, and quite a bit of bad coaching out there.  And more often than not the bad coaching came from folks who have not taken any coach training nor experienced coaching themselves.
 
Lie: I don't need coach training to pass IAC certification.   

Truth: Although it's true that a tiny percentage of applicants have passed one or both steps for IAC certification with little or no training, the vast majority of IAC certified coaches have had extensive training or mentoring that enabled them to get certification.
 
The question of whether or not you need coach training also comes up in another way…

Lie: If I have an allied degree, in counseling or social work, or organization development, I don't need coach training.   

Truth: You may or you may not.  Coaching, while using some of the skills you may already have, is a different skill set, and taking specific coach training is the best way to ensure that you are providing coaching and not something else.  I have had several clients who were helping professionals who were transitioning into coaching. They could tell you that there was a definite distinction between coaching and therapy or counseling, and until they took coach training, they often strayed between the two.
 
Lie: All coach training is created equal.  

Truth: Of course, that's not the case.  It's important to check the reputation of the program you want to attend. To know what the curriculum will cover; who will be doing the teaching; whether the school focuses on skills, marketing, spirituality, business or more; how the coursework is delivered, and what is expected of you? Whether the school philosophy is aligned with your own.   

And while we are talking about schools, let’s address a lie that I’m often asked when people are looking at coach training, and particularly looking to find a cheaper alternative to a coaching school….

Lie: You can learn everything you need from recorded or written coach training materials.


Truth:  You can learn a great deal from recordings and written materials, but ultimately it's live coaching skills practice and classes where you interact with the teachers and students who can ask the questions you didn't know to ask, that will benefit you the most.

Coaching is a profession. The definition of a profession is:  "A paid occupation, esp. one that involves prolonged training and a formal qualification."  If we are to continue to grow and become part of the mainstream of helping professionals, we must align ourselves with that definition.
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Topics: business coach, mentor coach, ICF, Coach Certification, IAC Certified Coach, IAC Certification, certified coaches, coaching schools, coaching skills, teleclass, Life Coaching, IAC

Fifteen Favorite Free Tools for Coaches

Posted by Julia Stewart

Free HugsIf you're a smart coach, you've learned that 'free' can be priceless.

Free is an attraction magnet and one of the smartest ways to market. That's why savvy coaches give away free sessions and other attractive stuff. 'Free' leads to relationships and relationships lead to clients.

Coaches didn't invent 'free', of course. We are also the happy beneficiaries of many free tools that make starting a coaching business one of the least expensive businesses you can get into.

Another lovely development is that online tools are getting easier to use.

Here without further ado are a few of my favs (plus a nice freebie from us).

1. Gmail. Every online business owner answers email pretty much all day. What a delight to have email that is virtually SPAM free without ticking off your potential clients by forcing them fill out a SpamArrest Captcha box before they can even contact you (really bad for business, by the way). Gmail is free and comes with loads of storage. It's online, so you're computer never slows down while it's downloading your (spam) email into Outlook. [UPDATE 10-21-09: You can also upgrade to Google Apps Standard for free and use your website address as your email domain.)

2. Google Reader. While we're in Google land, here are a couple more items that are helpful. Other people's blogs are among the most valuable free resources you'll find on the web, but most folks haven't figured out the whole RSS subscription thing. That's a pity, but good news! Google Reader is to blogs what AOL was to email ten years ago. Suddenly those of us who are clueless can join the party, too. Better yet, Google Reader is free.

Question: when you click one of those little orange RSS buttons RSS button that you see on blogs, do you know what to do with all that code that comes up? Me either. RSS stands for 'really simple syndication', but in my opinion, that was a misnomer until Google invented Reader. Now you can copy a blog's website address and paste that into your little Reader subscription box and all the articles will show up there automatically. If you can read email, you can subscribe to blogs with RSS in Reader.

3. Flickr Creative Commons. Let's say you've gotten so comfortable with blogs that you are now blogging regularly yourself (good idea, by the way). Blog posts are more likely to get read when they include engaging pictures. You can download digital photos from many paid sites (I like Dreamstime*), but if you're blogging every other day or so (good idea, by the way) even a dollar per picture adds up.

Flickr Creative Commons allows you to download thousands of pictures freely. The 'Free Hugs' photo above is an example. Just do the right thing and credit the photographer in your post. (Free Hugs Photo by Kalandrakas)

4. Social Networking sites. A blog is a great way to communicate with your fans, but how do you attract fans, in the first place? One way is via social networking. The most popular sites for coaches are Twitter, Facebook, and LinkedIn. And they are free. Or you can go for a much more targeted site like, Mastery Coach Exchange. Free again. Add badges from your favorite social networking sites to your blog, as we've done here, and keep the flow of traffic moving to your site.

5. Bit.ly. To invite people to your site, you need to post links. But links can be pretty cumbersome, especially if there is a limit to how long posts can be (as they are on Twitter). You need a link shortening service. There are many out there to choose from. I used to be loyal to Tinyurl and it's still great, but Bit.ly has some extra bells and whistles that are especially nice. My favorites include the ability to post directly to Twitter from Bit.ly and the ability to track how many people clicked a particular link. Makes it easy to gage which projects are most attractive to my fans.

6. Topify. Another tool that I like to use with Twitter is Topify. Once you set up and account with Topify, you'll receive an email each time someone follows you on Twitter. Topify with share enough info about your new followers that you can decide whether you want to follow them back, block them from following you, and/or report them as spammers.

Most people think that having lots of people follow you is the name of the game on Twitter. Actually, the quality of your followers is far more important. If you're not paying attention to who's following you, you'll likely get a lot of porno-spammers and some very weird tweets. (By the way, I learned about both Bit.ly and Topify from @DannyBrown, who is a heck of a nice guy to follow on Twitter. If you like, you can also follow me at @MasteryCoach.)

7.MailChimp*. Now that you have some quality followers, you want to invite them to something. Make that something wonderful and you may develop some raving fans. Fans become clients. MailChimp is an email marketing and list manager that offers a free account for email lists up to 500. Use a bit.ly link to invite your social networking followers to sign up for your free newsletter (or whatever) and manage that in MailChimp for free until your list gets really big and then you start to pay something. (By then, your client's fees will more than pay for the service.)

8. SurveyMonkey. Good marketing is about listening even more than expressing (just like good coaching). And you don't stop listening just because your list grows. You just need more efficient ways to listen to your fans. Surveys are a great way to do this. SurveyMonkey is well-designed and unless you're using it constantly, like we do (Our Coach 100 Feedback Forms are on the SurveyMonkey platform, for instance) the free SurveyMonkey account will be plenty.

9. Teleconferencing. Another great way to communicate with your fans (and have something to invite them to) is by doing teleconference calls. There are a plethora of free teleconference services out there that have an impressive array of features.

Two that we like are FreeConferencCalling, which lets you record in MP3 for free (great for preparing your coaching sessions for IAC Certification) and even has a nice button player for your website; and then there is FreeConferenceCall, which has an 'audiopodium' feature, if you just want your participants to be able to use a telephone to call into the recording. (If you're ready to get serious about creating digital products out of your conference calls, you may want to step up to AudioAcrobat* for your recording needs. It is not a free service, but it does have a free trial. And if you want a teleconference line with more bells and whistles, MaestroConference* has a free trial, too.)

10. DimDim*.  Webinars have many advantages over teleconferencing. A recorded webinar makes a attractive movie, for instance, that you can embed on your site, blog or even YouTube. I've tried all the webinar services out there, including WebEx, InstantTeleseminar, and GoToWebinar. I think none compare to DimDim and the free version may be all you'll ever need. It even comes with a free teleconference line, if you want to do tele-webinars.

11. BaseCamp*. You can use Dimdim to collaborate with a group of people from around the world, but if you do a lot of collaborative projects, you may want BaseCamp, an awesome suite of tools from the folks at 37Signals. Very simple, clean neat tools for getting projects done efficiently. Who couldn't use more of that? And the free version is very robust.

12. Pulse. Hate Quicken and QuickBooks? Me too. But you still need to track your finances. A simple tool that tracks your cash flow, Pulse creates graphs and multiple views of your financial picture, so you can see where you are today, make projections into the future and sleep better at night. The free version is very nice and it works with BaseCamp, too.

13. PayPal*. Paypal used to be seen as a tool for amateurs, but boy, has it grown up. Setting up a basic Paypal account is still free. Note however, that when people pay you, Paypal will take a small percentage. All merchant gateways will do this, but most will charge some hefty fees upfront, as well.

The thing that's great about Paypal is that it can grow with you. Over time, when you need invoices, website buttons, subscription services, take payments over the phone, accept all major credit cards, plus debit cards and checks, Paypal can do all that and create reports for your accountant, too. You can learn as you go and if you want an alternative payment service, you can always add one, but some people like to pay directly from their Paypal accounts, so you may want to keep it. (At some point, you may need an online shopping cart to automate most of your business transactions. We use 1ShoppingCart* for this and it has a free trial. It integrates with Paypal and other merchant gateways.)

14. BigMind. So far, I've focused on business solutions that you can try out for free, but of course, every great coach has also done their personal development work. It's part of the job description. That could be another whole blog post, but today I'm highlighting my favorite free personal development resource. All this week, you can watch live streaming video of Genpo Roshi taking a group of retreat members through the Big Mind/Big Heart Process for free. Live participants paid hundreds of dollars to be there (I'll be there in November), but you can be 'there' for free. 

The difference between this Genpo Roshi free program and the free teleclass programs that I warned you about in a previous post, is that this is an advanced, in-depth program that is not designed to manipulate you into buying something, but is focused simply on providing value. Big distinction.

15. And of course, the School of Coaching Mastery has tons of free resources for you, too. Videos, audios, eBooks, free webinars, study groups and even our own social networking site. Just explore the site and blog and you'll find them. One resource that is particularly powerful is the 'Become a Coach!' eBook, which contains an 8-hour free coach training program. Again, this is not just a free informercial teleclass, but a real training program, for free.

Become a Coach eBook

 

Download the free Become a Coach! eBook and eCourse here.

Don't expect everything to be free of course. When it comes to your business, learn to pay for the stuff that helps you make more money. But try it for free, first.

 

* Disclosure: I'm an affiliate of this company. And I would recommend it, anyway.

Free Hugs Photo by Kalandrakas

Topics: blogging, School of Coaching Mastery, webinar, coach, IAC Certification, twitter, Mastery Coach Exchange, Genpo Roshi, Big Mind Big Heart, teleclass

COACH: Step Away From That Teleclass!

Posted by Julia Stewart

Coach on teleclassFree teleclasses (aka: teleseminars, teleconferences) are an incredible way to learn amazing new stuff from top-notch leaders.

Most new coaches and a lot of not-so-new coaches love to spend time on fantastic teleclasses. The reasons are 5-fold:

1. Teleclasses are a cheap, easy and convenient way to connect with like-minded people from around the world to talk about stuff your family and neighbors may not give a hoot about.

2. As a new coach, you have a lot to learn. What better way to learn it than to listen to the experts tell you how they did it and how you should do it.

3. Practically everyday, another not-to-be-missed teleconference series is launched that you simply must attend. Often, these conferences are free, so how can you say, 'No'?

4. You can sit in your bedroom, wear your underwear, pet the cat, drink coffee and answer email; all while you learn from the world's greatest thought leaders.

5. (Biggest reason) As long as you're taking teleclasses, you're moving forward on your path to becoming a successful coach, because you're learning and growing, right?

If you're like thousands of other coaches, probably not.

Free teleclasses are like the crack cocaine of coach training: Cheap, available everywhere, trendy (for a while), and incredibly easy to get addicted to. That last point explains why they are so available: Because people get addicted to them, they make  perfect marketing vehicles.

The reason I say you are not moving forward with your business when you are on teleclasses, is for one simple reason: You can't build your business that way. You just can't.

And if you're like many of the newbie coaches that I know, the real reason you spend so much time hanging out on teleclasses is that taking steps to build your coaching business is scary, uncertain and you are soooo afraid of making mistakes.

Teleclasses are the coach's favorite excuse for procrastination.

Sorry. The truth isn't always pretty. What can you do about your teleclass addiction? Well, until they come with Surgeon General's Warnings or alarms, red flags and flashing lights, you need a plan. And you must stick to your plan. Here are a few points that might help:

  • Figure out how many client hours you want to be coaching each week.
  • Double that number and you have the number of hours each week you need to spend on building your coaching business.
  • Mark those hours off on your calendar and use them to actively build your business. Daily.
  • None of those business-building hours should be spent on teleclasses.
  • Consider time spent on teleclasses as entertainment time.
  • Limit your hours on teleclasses, just as you would limit a child's time watching television.
  • Don't worry if you miss a teleclass program. If EnlightenNext is doing it this month, you can bet MaestroMonth will do it next month. You'll never miss a thing.
Some teleclasses will benefit you more than others. Prioritize those that are part a progressive (usually paid) program that actively teaches you how to do something you need to know, gets you into action, and gives you feedback on how you're progressing. Also prioritize those programs that you lead, yourself, those that you actively participate on and those that teach you something you need to know this week, because you are applying the lessons right away.

Have a big vision for your coaching business and actively create it in reality.

Unless your big coaching vision is of you sitting in your bedroom, wearing your underwear, while you pet the cat, drink coffee and answer email, step away from the teleclasses.

Coach 100 eBook

 

If you want a real process for building your business, download the Coach 100 eBook.

 

Photo by jerine at flickr creative commons.

Topics: become a coach, Coach 100, coaching clients, make a living as a life coach, Free, Coach Training Programs, coach, teleclass, how to become a coach, coaching businesses

Coaches and Others: Lose Your Isolation.

Posted by Julia Stewart

Dimdim

There aren't many companies that I would write a love letter to or about

Here is just one that I thought I would share with you, because you'd probably love them, too. And even if you aren't in the market for their service, you might as well try it out, because it's free and trust me, you'll find cool ways to use it.

 

Here's my experience.

 

As the owner of a "cutting edge" coaching school, I went on a mission last year to find the perfect way to share coach training. Something that would combine the intense experience of live training with the convenience and cost-savings of teleclasses. I knew there had to be something better than teleclasses. I was right, but it took a long time to find it.

 

I explored every software out there from WebEx, to GoToMeeting, to InstantTeleseminar and a whole bunch you've never even heard of. You know what I found out? They are all expensive, clunky, sometimes hard to use and they almost always require participants to wait while the system downloads something to their computers, before they can even join the class.

 

I don't know about you, but I'm pretty leery about downloading anything that I don't already understand and I hate to wait.

 

My clients and students are the same way. I bet you are too. And I bet your friends, family, clients, customers and/or students are, too.

 

Somebody finally answered my prayers (Thank you, Seth Godin, for pointing the way). Less than a year ago, I discovered a brand new company that had set their sights on turning the business of webinars upside down.

 

You're not interested in doing webinars? Well, do you...

 

  • Wish you could visit with family and friends, like they were in the room with you (smiling faces and all)?
  • Do you wish you could watch your favorite videos with your faraway friends and chat and laugh like you were together?
  • Do you ever have long-distance phone meetings where you're all trying to follow they same notes, contracts, reports, etc.?
  • Do you ever wish you could stop driving/flying/training and spending time, money, fuel and what's left of the environment, just so you could do your work with others?

 

In other words, if you could use this service for nothing, then why on Earth wouldn't you? The only reason I can think of is that you just don't know about it, yet.

 

So I'm telling you: Get Dimdim.

It's as close to perfect as it comes. You can meet freely. And easily. And do lots of cool stuff with the people you love, no matter where they are.

 

Yes, you can do more if you pay something (An annual subscription is a fraction of what WebEx costs for one month), but for most people, the free account is all you'll ever need and it's not a free trial. It's free forever!

 

And yes, Dimdim has offered to expand my service if I tell my friends about it, so that's my selfish reason for writing, but I already brag about Dimdim to everyone I know. So.

 

 

 

 

Topics: Coaching, coach training, Free, Coach Training Programs, Seth Godin, teleclass, video coaching, coach training school, In-person coach training

Do You Need to Become a Certified Coach?

Posted by Julia Stewart

Certified Coach There is so much advice and opinion out there on whether or not coaches need training or certification.

Unfortunately, most of the information is based on what has worked for someone else. If their situation is exactly like yours, their advice may be good for you. But odds are, it won't be.

That's the problem with opinons and advice. It's always about someone else. Not you.

To clear up confusion about coach certification, we did a recent teleclass to help coaches decide for themselves if they really need to become certified coaches. The participants asked terrific questions about becoming a coach, getting coach training and becoming a certified coach.

The truth is some coaches really do need certification and others don't. The various deciding factors include variables such as your personality, whether coaching is a hobby, a sideline or your main source or income, your coaching niche or specialties, your clients' preferences, whether you want to work for yourself or someone else, and much more. You may be curious about the answers to those questions, too.

So if you missed the live call, you're in luck! We turned the questions from the class into a free questionnaire that will help you decide for YOU, if coach certification is a good idea for your coaching career.

You don't need to give your name or email address to take the coach certification questionnaire, but if you want more information from us, you'll have a chance to request it at the end.

Plus, we've added the recording for the class, 'Become a Masterful Coach: Do you need to become a certified coach?', which is at the bottom of this post. I recommend that you fill out the questionnaire first and listen to the recording second. If you have more questions, you're welcome to call us at +1-877-224-2780.

Take the 'Do You Need Coach Certification?' questionnaire here. 

Here is the recording for the 'Become a Masterful Coach: Do you need coach certification?' teleclass: 

Topics: coach training, become a coach, becoming a certified coach, Coach Certification, Become a Certified Coach, teleclass

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