In the beginning of 2017, I hired an amazing coach to help me determine what I truly wanted for both my business and for myself. I compensated her for her services with a comprehensive review of her branding, a new logo, and a website. That project eventually led to additional work for other professional coaches and consultants.
As a result of those initial projects, I recently decided to market my design services to help out other certified coaches that could use a good web designer. What I discovered after researching hundreds of existing websites was a fairly long list of common issues such as broken links, confusing interfaces and not being mobile friendly. Others issues however, were actually very unique to coaching websites and seemed to inadvertently diminish the value of their expertise.
This list is based on weeks of discovering the most common mistakes within 100’s of coaching websites. Use it to refine your presentation, boost the value of your practice, and land more clients.
1. You need to sell yourself
It’s shocking how many coaching websites will neglect to mention the name of the actual coach. Even if the coach’s name is somehow included in the logo, that’s simply not enough. Your name should be mentioned at least once on every page.
This might sound shallow, but YOU are the product of your service (at least your approach to coaching is). It’s therefore essential to strike a sense of familiarity as early as possible.
Authentic marketing is a method that has grown wildly popular in recent years. As folks become more internet savvy, aggressive sales and contrived statements are seen by many as a red flag, especially for anyone seeking a professional that can be trusted with their personal vulnerabilities.
2. What do you look like?
I personally hate every picture ever taken of me, ever. But as a company owner who needs to earn the trust of potential clients, my ugly mug needs to be available for all to see.
Because humans naturally value looks, I suggest hiring a professional to do this. No matter what you actually look like, the fact that you put some effort into your appearance will go a long way.
Under these circumstances, a filtered Instagram selfie is akin to showing up to a job interview in your pajamas.
3. It’s impossible to be an expert in business, spirituality, relationships, health, grief, and every other coaching category you can think of.
You may as well include dog grooming, acrobatics & competitive unicycling.
I get it. Even though it goes against the advice of basically everyone, you’ve decided to cast a wide net in hopes of getting as many clients as possible. It doesn’t work.
Let’s say your strengths as a coach lean toward health and spirituality, but, key elements of your practice can be equally beneficial to anyone seeking to increase their income.
Well, EVERYONE wants to increase their income. Some of these people are already into “spirituality”, while others are eagerly awaiting Donald Trump’s border wall. Who would you rather work with? Most importantly, who can benefit the most from your particular service? The more you understand the nature of your ideal clients, the easier it will be to find them.
4. Avoid “template websites”
There are a few companies that offer pre-made website templates that are “designed especially for coaches”. The truth is, many of those same templates could be used to sell mattresses, gardening supplies, or luxury timeshares.
Ten years ago, simply having a website in the interwebs would make you look like a big shot. These days however, your unique coaching philosophy needs to be carefully designed in such a way that it speaks directly to your audience in a manner that is both professional and convincing.
5. The more text you use, the less they’ll read
A very common mistake I’ve noticed with coaching websites are menu bars cluttered with too many pages to choose from, followed by oceans of text to read through.
You can actually say so much more by using professional photography and a clean, well planned user experience. Think about the best path for visitors to take between your homepage to your contact page.
The ultimate goal of the website should be a scheduled consultation. That’s when all of your knowledge will make the most impact (as long as you can sell it).
6. You need a call to action
Even a beautifully designed website won’t get you very far if no one contacts you. Most coaches offer a free consultation as a way to successfully gain clients. But a simple contact page is not enough.
First you need to sell that consultation. If nothing else, what will your potential clients gain from talking to you for 15 minutes? From there, a signup form needs to be on every page and on the sidebar of your blog.
On that note, you are blogging, right?
7. You need to blog
Two primary factors that will keep your website from showing up on search engines are a low rate of visitors, and static content that never changes.
Blogging solves both of these issues. Simply posting a new blog article will tell Google that your website is actively being used. And, if you post a link to that article on your social media, others will hopefully click on it.
8. Your blog is not your personal diary
Your coaching practice is a business that solves specific problems for specific people.
Yes, at times a personal anecdote is appropriate. But ultimately, each blog post should somehow benefit your clientele. Writing in this context will not only increase the likelihood of your website ranking high on search engines, it may also help you to master your own understanding of your practice overtime.
9. Hire a professional designer
Full disclosure: this last point is an appeal to hire someone like myself. But with that said, any professional designer with a good portfolio is worth looking into. Just like coaches, we customarily offer free consults.
It’s perfectly understandable for anyone just starting their practice to take a swing at designing their own website. But do consider that a professional designer has put in years of practice, maintains a robust understanding of design theory, current trends, basic marketing know-how, and technical abilities that are constantly evolving with the latest technology.
By far, the most common result of not hiring a professional to design your website is a shabby, untrustworthy representation of your practice and of yourself.
It’s true that most clients will come from referrals, but almost all of them will first visit your website to learn more about what you have to offer. If they don’t like what they see, they can just as easily do a quick Google search for someone else.