Are you looking to expand your career as an executive coach or a leadership coach? Do you want to attract more clients by increasing your reach through your online presence? Whether it’s because you want a more cost-effective solution to finding clients or believe in the transformative power of reaching people online – the digital landscape is your gateway to success.

The opportunity to establish your executive coaching business online is wide open, and it’s never too late to dive in. If you’re curious to learn how to start an executive coaching business or a leadership coaching business, you’re in the right place – keep reading!

Understanding The Role of an Executive Coach

Unlocking success starts with understanding the power of an executive coach and how their expertise can transform careers. 

Executive coaching plays a pivotal role in enhancing the performance of high-ranking professionals and those with great potential. This process involves sharpening self-awareness and setting clear goals to foster personal development. Also often referred to as leadership coaching, it involves engaging in meaningful dialogue to unleash an individual’s potential, assisting them in overcoming complex challenges or adapting to change.

However, from my perspective, the most effective executive and leadership coaches are more than just a strategic thinking partner; they are innovators in their field.

A great executive or leadership coach hones their listening abilities and intuition to such a degree that they can identify when a client’s thinking patterns are hindering their progress. They then intervene to create a space for the client to recognize these patterns themselves. This awareness enables the client to alter their thought processes, leading to more favourable outcomes.

Attaining this level of skill requires both comprehensive training and practical experience, which are fundamental in the journey to becoming a seasoned executive or leadership coach.

Online Executive Coaching

Professional coaches are not new to the online environment; in fact, online executive coaching has been the norm even long before COVID-19.

However, in online executive coaching, where virtual connections are preferred over face-to-face meetings, coaching details become extra important. Clients navigating the digital world benefit greatly from an executive coach’s mastery of the coaching competencies as they talk through leadership challenges and decision-making complexities.

The digital perspective in executive coaching brings with it unique nuances that require a well-honed set of skills. Unlike in-person sessions, online executive coaching relies heavily on technology to create a connection. However the benefit of this is that coaching sessions can actually be more effective as there are fewer distractions and more confidentiality. 

Furthermore, online coaching offers flexibility and accessibility, allowing for more frequent and potentially shorter sessions that can be more easily integrated into a busy executive’s schedule. This flexibility can lead to more consistent and immediate support, enabling clients to address leadership challenges and make decisions in real time.

The role of an online executive coach ensures that clients continue to receive high-quality coaching, irrespective of physical distances or logistical constraints.

Can You Make Money as an Online Executive Coach?

Absolutely. For a deeper dive into this topic, have a read of how much you can earn as an Executive Coach here. Executive coaching has gained significant traction in the business world as organizations increasingly recognize the pivotal role leadership plays in driving success. More organizations realize that investing in their leadership team’s development pays off in spades, and that’s where you come in.

Imagine playing an important role in the success of top-level executives, supporting them as they navigate the complexities of their roles and skyrocket their effectiveness. As an executive coach, your unique blend of experience, insights, and professional coaching skills are in high demand.

Executives are eager to invest in their professional growth and willing to pay a premium for the kind of tailored, one-on-one coaching that sets them apart. Your earning potential isn’t just tied to your coaching skills — it’s linked to the tangible impact that coaching has on leaders and their organizations.

Is an Online Coaching Business Profitable?

Executive coaches can employ various strategies and avenues to attract clients and build a thriving coaching practice. Most coaches favour an online coaching business – not only because of its profitability and cost-effectiveness but also because of the massive convenience and benefit to the client.

Online platforms break down geographical barriers, allowing executive coaches to tap into a global market. This expanded reach significantly increases the potential client pool where coaches can attract individuals and businesses from diverse industries and locations. With a broader global audience, coaches have the opportunity to scale their online coaching business and increase revenue streams.

Online coaching also eliminates the need for physical office space, reducing overhead costs associated with maintaining a brick-and-mortar presence. Coaches can operate from virtually anywhere with flexible schedules, cutting down on office rent, utilities, furnishings, and travel expenses.

Scaling An Online Coaching Business

Online coaching also allows coaches to scale their businesses efficiently through virtual sessions, webinars, and digital resources. The digital business landscape enables coaches to cater to a larger number of potential customers without being limited by physical constraints. That means increased revenue for many coaches because it allows you to take on more clients without proportionally increasing your workload.

On top of that, online marketing channels, such as social media and content marketing, are generally more cost-effective than traditional advertising. Executive coaches can leverage these platforms to promote services and online programs, share valuable content, and build a solid online presence without setting down significant financial investments.

So whether you’re just starting out your business or are looking for other ways to promote your coaching expertise – the online space is the preferred platform for most coaches.

How Do I Start an Online Executive Coaching Business?

So you’ve considered setting up your executive coaching business online – the next thing to do is to figure out the best way to execute it. Let me help you through this step-by-step process.

Step #1: Get Your Coaching Certification

Obtaining an ICF professional coaching certification is the first and most important step in the coaching profession, not only for the coaches themselves but also for the assurance and confidence it instills in potential clients. Clients, in particular, tend to prefer working with ICF-certified coaches. 

2017 ICF survey revealed that 83% of respondents stated that it was either important or very important for them that their coach has a certification or credential.

In another ICF Global Report in 2023, an overwhelming majority of coaches (80%) also agreed that their clients and potential customers expect them to be certified or have credentials. Needless to say, clients are more likely to hire coaches with an ICF certification as they represent a lower risk and a higher likelihood of delivering impactful coaching results.

Why You Need Coaching Education and Certification

Think of it this way: would you choose to get a medical checkup from a doctor with no notable credentials? Of course not, because without credentials or certifications, there is no assurance that they have been trained with the right core competencies to practice.

The same thing applies to being an executive coach. A coaching certification proves that you’ve undergone extensive training to ensure you deliver quality and ethical coaching services. It’s a notable mark that helps set you apart from other coaches in the market because it is a testament to your professional competence and reliability in the coaching profession. Moreover, once you’ve proven your credibility, clients are more likely to refer you to others.

The bottom line is it’s best to choose a coaching education program (see our coaching education certification programs compared here) and secure your certification first from an ICF-accredited coaching education program before you start an online coaching business. Not only does it increase your chances of attracting high-value paying clients, but it also elevates the reputation and credibility of your coaching business.

Step #2: Define Your Niche

The next step to establishing a coaching business online is to define your niche. There are many types of coaching that executive coaches can choose to focus on, but it’s important to choose one that aligns with your coaching business goals.

Having a well-defined niche allows coaches to focus on particular types of clients and their unique issues, making it easier for them to attract the right clientele. Although I believe you do not have to be a subject matter expert to coach (read more about that here), a clear niche can potentially drive your success because it helps you and your business stand out in a crowded market when you cater to a specific target market or audience.

When it comes to executive coaching, clients often seek professionals with experience that aligns with their own unique challenges and industry dynamics. So conducting market research on ideal clients and knowing how to align your coaching sessions and services to address their particular needs gives you the leverage to position yourself as an authority in your specific niche — ultimately allowing more potential coaching clients to recognize you and your business.

If you are considering becoming an executive coach, business coach, or leadership coach and want to understand the differences, read this article to understand which type you should specialize in.

Still not sure about your niche? Coaching memberships and support groups like The Leadership Coach Community are places where ICF coaches can gain access to experts who can support them in choosing a niche, setting up shop, and building a practice.

Step #3: Establish Your Online Presence 

Once you’ve established the specific executive or leadership coaching path you want to pursue, it’s time to build your online presence. Like a local business you come across in the street, your coaching business’s online presence serves as your storefront where you can showcase your expertise and variety of services.

Given that this will most probably be what your clients will see before deciding if they want to work with you – your online presence needs to be inviting, informative, credible, and reflective of the coaching experience you offer. Think about it: would you want to enter a store that doesn’t entice you? Or has nothing you need? Of course not.

Your Online Coaching Website

In the digital landscape, what serves as your “storefront” is your website. There are various options for building a professional online coaching website, including creating one yourself or hiring a website professional to design and develop one for you. 

Here are some considerations when you are planning your coaching website:

Branding and messaging: Define your unique value proposition as an executive coach. Develop a clear and compelling message that communicates your expertise, coaching style, and the benefits clients can expect. Ensure your branding, including logo, color scheme, and overall aesthetic, aligns with your coaching style and the image you want to portray.

Content planning: Plan the content of your website carefully. Consider including sections such as an about page, services offered, client testimonials, blog or articles, contact information, and a portfolio or case studies showcasing your success stories.

Clear navigation: Ensure that your website’s navigation is user-friendly and intuitive. Use clear headings and menus to help visitors easily find the information they’re looking for. A well-structured website improves the user experience and encourages visitors to explore further.

Mobile optimization: In today’s digital age, many users access websites on mobile devices. Ensure that your website is responsive and functions well on smartphones and tablets. A mobile-friendly design is essential for a positive user experience and can also boost your search engine rankings.

SEO (Search Engine Optimization): Implement SEO best practices to improve your website’s visibility in search engine results. Use relevant keywords related to executive coaching or leadership coaching in your content and metadata. Create high-quality, informative, and engaging content that attracts organic traffic. Consider incorporating a blog to regularly publish valuable content that showcases your expertise.

Additionally, consider the technical aspects of website creation, including domain registration, hosting, security, and regular updates. If you lack the technical skills, consider hiring a web designer or developer to assist you in creating a professional and functional website that aligns with your coaching business’s goals and objectives.

Utilizing Social Media for Your Coaching Business

Utilizing social media can also be a valuable tool in connecting with potential clients and fostering the growth of your coaching business. Here are a few considerations when planning your social media for your online coaching business:

Platform selection: Not all social media platforms are equally effective for all businesses. Choose platforms that align with your coaching niche and where your target audience spends their time. For example, LinkedIn may be more suitable for executive coaching, while Instagram or Facebook might be better for other coaching niches.

Content planning: Develop a content strategy that reflects your coaching expertise and addresses the needs and interests of your audience. Consider sharing insights, tips, success stories, and thought leadership content related to executive coaching.

Consistency: Consistency is key in social media. Establish a posting schedule and stick to it. Regular, relevant, and engaging content will help you build a following and maintain their interest.

Respond to comments and messages: Engage with your audience by responding to comments, messages, and questions promptly. Building relationships and providing value through interactions can foster trust and credibility.

Encourage user-generated content: Encourage satisfied clients to share their success stories or testimonials on your social media platforms. User-generated content can be a powerful way to showcase the impact of your coaching services.

Maintain a consistent brand: Secure your name or your coaching business name on all platforms, regardless of whether you plan to use them or not. Ensure that your social media profiles, including profile pictures, cover photos, and bio information, are consistent with your branding and messaging across all platforms.

Visual content: Use high-quality images, graphics, and videos that resonate with your target audience and reinforce your coaching brand. Visual content can make your posts more engaging and shareable.

Track performance: Use social media analytics tools to monitor the performance of your posts and campaigns. Pay attention to metrics like engagement, reach, click-through rates, and follower growth to evaluate what’s working and what needs improvement.

Adjust your strategy: Based on your analytics, refine your social media strategy over time. Experiment with different types of content, posting times, and strategies to optimize your results.

By carefully considering these factors and continually adapting your social media strategy to meet the changing needs of your executive coaching business, you can effectively use social media as a valuable tool for marketing, client engagement, and building your coaching brand online.

Overall, incorporating social media into your own coaching program or business strategy can greatly enhance its success by allowing you to build relationships with individual clients and larger companies or organizations who may benefit from your services.

Step #4: Cultivate a Network

Building your network is another factor that will help leverage your online coaching presence. You can read our comprehensive guide to networking for executive coaches here. Networks help establish a web of professional connections that can significantly impact the success of your coaching business. Engaging with industry professionals helps to create awareness about your coaching services, which increases the likelihood of client referrals.

So, attend networking events and be open to opportunities for collaborations and partnerships as they may lead to joint ventures, cross-promotions, and even shared resources. A robust online network sets the stage for building trust and credibility. And with an established reputation in the competitive landscape of profitable online coaching business – sustaining your business venture becomes an easier task.

Looking for a great networking community to join? Have a look at our own Leadership Coach Community here.

Step #5: Set Competitive Rates

Crafting competitive rates is a pivotal step for executive coaches looking to make a mark in the online coaching arena. It’s not just about numbers — it’s about strategically positioning your value and expertise to your ideal clients. Here’s how you can establish your coaching package rates:

Know Your Worth: Start by assessing your professional experience, certifications, skills, and the unique value you bring to the table. Consider your track record, industry insights, and your transformative impact on clients. Understanding your worth is the first step in setting rates that reflect your expertise. 

Market Research Magic: Be more familiar with the world of online executive coaching and research what your peers are charging. You can read more about what Executive Coaches typically earn here. The ICF offers yearly reports about what current coaches are charging in different geographic areas, as well as a Credentialed Coach Finder where you can view other coaches’ websites. Analyze their offerings, expertise, and client testimonials. This market insight helps you position your rates competitively while ensuring you’re not underselling your unique skills.

Package Power: Structure your coaching packages thoughtfully. Offer a variety of coaching service options that cater to different client needs. B2B and B2C offers require different pricing structures. Whether it’s a one-on-one intensive or a group coaching program, having versatile coaching packages allows you to cater to a broader audience, making your services more accessible.

Continual Value: Beyond the coaching sessions, some executive coaches provide additional resources, workshops, or exclusive content to add ongoing value. This extra layer of support can justify your rates and ensure ideal clients receive a comprehensive coaching experience.

Step #6: Execute a Marketing Strategy

A successful online business venture is not complete without a marketing strategy. A well-thought-out marketing strategy clarifies your business’s goals, identifies your target audience, and outlines how to reach and engage customers effectively. 

When it comes to selling your services, setting a plan helps ensure that your resources are allocated wisely to the right marketing channel to prevent aimless efforts and maximize the impact of your promotional activities – especially if you’re new to the coaching scene.

One way to begin is to see if your coaching certification program offers a Coach Bench for you to join, as a way to promote your services. For example, at The Coaching Academy for Leaders, certified coaches who are vetted and trained are offered the opportunity to join the C3 Bench where they can gain clients and experience.

How Do I Market Myself as an Online Coach?

If you’re an executive coach diving into the marketing world with zero clues, remember our ideas about networking above. Many networking groups like The Leadership Coach Community offer marketing experts who have office hours on a monthly basis to guide you through the necessary steps.

You can also hire marketing agencies to do the work for you. But to give you an idea, marketing your coaching services is all about becoming more visible online. As discussed above, it involves setting up spaces where your first few clients can find you — like your website, social media platforms, or joining a Coach Bench. You may also consider doing a free webinar, or coaching calls to showcase your online coaching expertise.

Remember, it’s not about being a marketing genius but letting people know you’re there, reliable, and ready to help them thrive.

Step #7: Enhance Your Skills

Establishing an online coaching business isn’t only about keeping your A-game in marketing your services — it’s also about ensuring the quality of your coaching services. The online world is always buzzing with talent, so staying sharp in your coaching game is crucial. Be so great at what you do that your ideal client can’t ignore tapping into your expertise.

A coach’s professional development is never done. As you hone your skills, your approach to your clients’ development becomes more refined. To continue to serve as a coach and well-rounded guide, you must stay ahead of emerging trends in professional development. 

For example, if you aim to become an executive coach or a leadership coach, you’ll need to master the 8 core coaching competencies that hone active listening and powerful questioning skills. These skills take time and effort to refine, so continuing your professional education through earning CCE’s (ICF Continuing Coach Education Units) makes sense and are a requirement for credential renewal.

Take some online mentor coaching, attend webinars, read the latest in your coaching niche – basically, keep your skills as great and updated as much as possible. When your ideal client sees that you’re not just a coach but a great coach who’s always on top of their game – it gives them that go signal that you’re the kind of coach they should be working with.

Do Skills Affect How Much I Should Charge for Executive Coaching?

Yes and no. The price you charge for executive coaching often depends on many different factors, and your skillset is only one of them. Your industry, reputation, and the specific niche you’re in also play a role in the pricing pie. So, it’s not just about what you bring to the table – it’s also about how the market perceives your value.

But in the same way, clients pay for the value you serve them. If you’ve earned your ICF certification, honed your skills, demonstrated success with previous clients, and have a knack for helping clients achieve their goals, your coaching becomes more valuable. Clients are willing to invest more when they believe in your ability to guide them effectively. It’s like any service – the better you are at it, the more people are willing to pay.

Step #8: Attract and Retain Clients

The long-term success of your coaching business relies heavily on securing and retaining clients. Testimonials and feedback hold great significance as they alleviate any hesitations potential clients may have about starting their individual or group coaching journey with you. They create a bridge for clients to know that taking the plunge with your coaching services is definitely worth it.

Generating Client Testimonials

Utilizing client testimonials can greatly enhance the impact of your marketing strategies. It is not enough to simply gather them. They must be utilized in a strategic manner. Emphasize the progress and successes achieved by clients within their testimonial statements.

Instead of passively waiting for client feedback, take the initiative and actively request testimonials from a few clients who were happy with your services.

Building Long-Term Relationships

Maintaining a solid client base is just as important in the world of executive coaching as bringing on new clients. Cultivating strong connections with your clients ensures their ongoing satisfaction and devotion.

ICF Professional coaches are people of high integrity, so only keep a client for as long as the client is getting value from the relationship. Coaches want to see their clients progress, overcome their challenges, achieve their goals, and reach new levels of potential. 

While working with their coach, the client will learn some “self-coaching” techniques.

In coaching circles, you will often hear coaches joke that they were so good they coached themselves out of a job! As coaches, we don’t create dependencies, and we’re very proud of that!

If the coach senses that the client is languishing, the coach will enquire about that and may suggest that the client take a break or even work with a new coach. Working with a coach can be as rigorous as working with a fitness trainer, so it is not out of the question for a client to take a break and circle back when they’re ready. 

Simple Steps to Your Business’ Success

Whether you’re a seasoned pro or a rising star in the world of executive coaching, taking your expertise online is a fantastic avenue to broaden the horizons of your coaching business. And it doesn’t have to be hard when you can follow these steps:

Step #1: Get Your ICF Coaching Certification

Step #2: Define Your Niche

Step #3: Establish Your Online Presence

Step #4: Cultivate a Network

Step #5: Set Competitive Rates

Step #6: Execute a Marketing Strategy

Step #7: Enhance Your Skills

Step #8: Attract and Retain Clients

There’s a unique sense of fulfillment and liberation in knowing your executive coaching venture is continually growing and evolving. If you want to pursue an online executive or leadership coaching career, join our vibrant community at The Coaching Academy For Leaders. Explore how we can champion and guide you on your journey toward building a flourishing coaching business.

Have questions about becoming an executive coach? Drop them in the comments, or visit our Get Your Questions Answered resource page – I’m here to help!


As published originally:

By: Corry Robertson