Should You Offer Coaching Services as a Writer or Author? | Coaching for Writers
Over the last few months, well it’s been almost a year, I’ve noticed quite a few first-time authors pop up and start labelling themselves as some type of coach for writers. I want to first preface this by saying I don’t necessarily think this is a bad thing, partly because, it’s hard to make a living as an author. It can often take multiple books before you can start making an income from royalties alone.
But, royalties aren’t the only way to make money. If you want to make money as an author-entrepreneur or authorpreneur, then you need to create multiple streams of income. For this reason, many authors turn to offer services. Nevertheless, in the coaching world, there are standards and ethics you need to adhere to if you want to be an effective coach. And, that’s what you want to be, an effective coach, a coach that helps people achieve their goals.
What to Expect
Right now, feels like the perfect time to point out to you that I’m not trying to discourage you. The point of this blog post is to point out that offering coaching services is not as easy as calling yourself a coach and creating a work with me page on your website. Coaching is a skillset that you can acquire. In this blog post, I want to help you find your own path to becoming a coach and guide towards resources that helped me when I first started life coaching.
Before you offer coaching, it’s essential to understand what coaching is, it’s strengths and limitations. In a nutshell, coaching is not consulting, counselling, or positions you the coach, as an expert in any way. It’s not a get rich quick scheme, you cannot start out charging thousands of dollars even if you frequently rank number one in the best sellers chart.
In short, the coaching relationship is not about you, it’s about the client.
If you want to know more about coaching, and it can help you as a writer, achieve your writing goals, then check out the previous coaching for writers blog post.
Do You Need a Qualification to be a Coach?
Yes, and no.
I don’t recommend you immediately starting searching for a qualification.
Courses are great, but coaching is an action, and therefore, you learn how to coach by coaching others and being coached yourself. You may at some point after you have a little more experience, get a qualification that’s approved by a coaching association. The reason why I say to wait is, it’s not until you start coaching that you realise your strengths and weaknesses as a coach. The point of a coaching qualification is, it provides you with the skills you need to be an effective coach. And, you don’t know what skills you need to improve until you start.
So, how do you get started as a coach?
Before I share with you the recommended steps to becoming a coach for writers, here is how I got started as a coach.
In the spirit of transparency, I don’t have a formal coaching qualification, it’s something that I didn’t get around to completing. It took me quite a long time to choose a coaching niche that suited me. While I loved each of the niches I tried out, they all had something in common. And, that was writing and blogging. I started out as a dating coach, moved into life coaching, then transitioned to business coaching, before deciding on coaching writers. My life and business coaching career began in March 2013 until December 2016. During this period, I worked full-time and sometimes part-time, until I quit my day job towards the end of 2015.
From Business Coach to Writing Coach
However, from 2015 to 2016, I did enrol in a membership programme called the Mater’s Circle by Evercoach and finished all of the training programmes within the Master’s Circle. At the time the membership programme was in its infancy and was $69.00 per month plus taxes. Three years later it’s $199 per month plus taxes, but the membership contains more training videos by a large number of experts.
The training covered advanced coaching skills through to marketing and everything in between. Nevertheless, it’s not an official course approved by the Association for coaches, as of 2019. I cancelled my membership in 2016 because I was starting to consider changing direction to coaching writers. Essentially, business coaching wasn’t an excellent fit for me because people turned to me for coaching on other things. And that was coaching on everything from self-esteem through to starting a blog.
My Journey to Coaching for Writers
In order for me to start out as a writing coach, I decided to focus on publishing my first three thrillers or getting them close to hitting the publication button, before I started coaching writers. Since 2017, I’ve been coaching on and off. And, that’s more off than on. I started a podcast, youtube channel, and blog, all for writers as a way of building my platform, proving my value, and illustrating that I know what I’m talking about.
It wasn’t until this year that I created a programme and chose a coaching niche. Essentially, I help first time writers to finish their first draft and figure out their next steps. So, instead of taking ten years or in my case more than two years, I help them to continue working on their story through the difficult moments, because many people who start a book don’t necessarily go on to finish.
Trust me, I have two unfinished romantic comedy manuscript to show for that knowledge. I’ve learned so much more finishing Immunity than I did, not finishing An Ideal Man and Take A Bow.
As a writer, this saddens me.
I want people to finish the books they start writing and go on to press publish because in the writing world other authors are not the competition, more books means more for people to read. At this point, I should point out that my two bedroom apartment is overflowing with books.
You’re shocked, right?
Yes, I’m a bibliophile.
What Are the Coaching Best Practices?
The first best practice I want to talk to you about is free sessions. Yes, I realise you want to create an income stream with coaching, but hear me out. In order to attract potential clients, you need to offer a complimentary session or a free session, which is also referred to as a discovery session. This discovery session is not a sales pitch, it’s designed so that you can figure out what the client is looking for and whether you can help them reach their goals.
It’s unethical to charge for this session, even if you plan on taking the money off the price of any coaching purchased because that implies someone has to buy your services. This type of business practice is like going on a first date, then at the end saying to your date, “we have to get married” and flipping open your calendar to ask “what day works for you?” So, please for the love of god, don’t charge people for a discovery session.
The GROW Coaching Model (AKA, the framework of a coaching session)
The second best practice is about the various coaching models (aka, what yo do in the weekly coaching sessions). One of the many great coaching models is referred to as the GROW model. It’s an acronym that stands for Goal, Current Reality, Options, and Way-forward. Essentially, in every coaching session, you would establish rapport, ask the client to choose a topic for the session, guide the client into setting a goal, then you would discuss their current reality, their options, and lastly, discuss their way-forward or next steps. In each of these sections of the coaching session, you would ask the client open-ended questions to help them to take each step and create a goal, figure out where they are, discover their options, and finally create a plan to move forward and achieve the goal.
That’s coaching in a nutshell.
For more information on using the GROW coaching model, I recommend reading Excellence in Coaching: The Industry Standard by the Association for Coaches.
The third best practice is more of a skill, but it’s integral to the coaching process. It’s referred to as “active listening.”
So, what’s active listening?
Active listening requires the coach to concentrate, understand, respond and then remember what is being said by the coaching client.
During a coaching session, I don’t even take notes. With the client’s permission, I record with the session, and I also provide this recording to the client a few days after the session.
An Advice Free Zone
I know I mentioned this in the previous blog post on coaching for writers, but it’s worth repeating here. No advice is given in a coaching session, because, as a coach, you’re helping someone forge their own writing path. And, quite often, this requires surrendering your ego as a coach because you’re not teaching someone how to do something your way. Coaching helps the client forge their own writing journey, and you do this by asking open-ended questions.
CPD for Coaches
This is where the training comes into play. At some point, you need to start developing your skillset and working on those skills that need further tweaking. In other professions, this is referred to as continuing professional development. For this reason, I turned to the Master’s Circle membership site, as well as hiring my own coach, and taking a few short courses. Yes, it wasn’t a course approved by an association, but it made men a better coach.
By the way, I’m not being paid to promote the Mater’s Circle, and I’m not earning any commission if you go over to the Evercoach site and sign up. But, if you’re starting out, I recommend reading the blog and not paying for any courses or membership sites until you’ve had a few clients.
Recommended Reading Material
Over the years, I’ve purchased quite a few things to help me start out and continue developing my skills as a coach. But, not all of the products and services I purchased were great. Below, is a list of the best ones. For the sake of transparency, the links for the books are Amazon affiliate links, all other links exist to make things a little easy for you.
I purchased this is the third edition way back in 2013, but there is now a fourth edition available on Amazon. In this book, you’ll find information on coaching ethics, your role as a coach, and the coaching relationship. I highly recommend this book to anyone who wants to become a coach.
I purchased the second edition in 2013, while I was living in Australia, but there is a third edition available. This book is edited and created by the Association for coaching and contains a lot of information on how to coach and set up a practice.
This book was purchased after hearing about Curly Martin on another blog. I was initially intending on doing her course on coaching via distance education, but I never got around to it. From memory, at the time it was an accreted course, and I’m pretty sure her course has kept its accreditation.
As I mentioned earlier, I got a lot of great advice from the membership site, Master’s Circle created by Evercoach. At the time, this membership site helped me to create a coaching programme and find my first business coaching clients. And, obviously the Evercoach blog. The content on the blog is free and helped me when I changed from Life Coaching to Business Coaching.
Where Should You Start When Offering Coaching?
So, if you’ve reached this far in the blog post, you probably want to start coaching and not just curious about coaching. If this is you, I recommend you start off by completing 100 hours of free coaching.
Yes, you heard me correctly.
I know this isn’t what you wanted to hear, but I promise this will help you and lead to paying clients.
How to Use Free Sessions
My advice to you is to offer free sessions in bundles in exchange for a testimonial (1x discovery session, 3x coaching sessions). Think of these people as the coaching equivalent of a reader with an ARC. So, in theory, all you need is twenty-five clients to complete those 100 hours. These free sessions are about honing your skills as a coach. Quite often, a few of these free clients may go on to work with you in a coaching programme. And, that’s not just wishful think either, this is how I got my first clients.
But, when I first started, I was super shy about asking for testimonials. Whatever you do, don’t do that, ask for testimonials because they are social proof for other prospective clients. After all of this coaching, you should have a better idea of the skills you have as a coach and the skills you need to improve upon. If you start looking for a course on coaching, you’ll be in a better position to make a more informed choice.
How Much Should You Charge When You Start Out?
After the free sessions or your first few free clients, you might want to start off charging $50.00 per hour. There’s no right or wrong way; just wait until you are sure that you are confident in your ability as a coach and can effectively guide a client to achieve their writing goals.
So, what should you charge when you first start out?
You need to price according to the type of client you’re trying to attract and consider their financial circumstances. For instance, because I work with writers who eventually want to publish their stories, I charge at the lower end of the spectrum because publishing, especially independent publishing, is expensive. Therefore, if I charge too high a price, the clients I want to attract will not be able to afford my services.
Because you want to coach writers you can bundle other benefits to your coaching, especially if you already have a skillset. As a result, you may be able to charge by the month instead of by the session. Before you create a coaching programme, you need to do market research and figure out what people want and are willing to pay for, which is why the 100 hours of free coaching is so helpful.
If you do have other skills, experience, or completed an editing qualification, you might want to offer editing services alongside coaching. But, make sure you have editing qualifications and not just a degree in literature. You need something that’s approved by a reputable society of editors.
Thank you for reading this long blog post, I really appreciate you reading, commenting, and sharing. I hope this post helps you understand whether you should offer coaching services as a writer or author, and guide you towards the right path to starting out as a coach.
I’m Amelia. I write Mystery Novels under the pen name A. D. Hay. And, I’m the author of Missing, the first book in the James Lalonde series. On this blog, I help new writers to finish their first draft, prepare their manuscripts for professional editing, and when they get stuck in the first draft phase or are confused about the revision process. Right now, I’m editing and preparing my soon to be published mystery novels, Duplicity, 24 Hours, and Immunity for publication.