Are You Providing Coaching for Clients?
If you're providing any kind of online coaching for your clients, you've likely faced all the same challenges I have. So when a friend emailed me and asked how to build the perfect membership site for coaches, I thought, I know the answer to this.
But the more I wrote my email response, the more frustrated I got, because there are so many things I do manually. And it's fine if I have a routine and am comfortable with it. But it's hard to suggest that a friend stepping into coaching would have to (or should have to) do the same thing.
Have you felt these challenges? Have you wanted to build the perfect membership solution for coaching and found yourself frustrated?
Problem One: Coaching Is More Than Content Delivery
A lot of platforms out there, and this includes most membership solutions for coaching, are simply ways to protect content. So you create a membership site for your coaching program, only to find that what it's really doing well is protecting a set of files, or a set of videos. But that's it.
And coaching is more than content delivery. Most of coaching is about finding the right questions and the right resources to help someone think about things differently, and that often means creating assignments that cause others to go away and think about things.
In my coaching, I regularly give people assignments. Not just access to content I've already created.
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Problem Two: Coaching Is Personal & Needs to Feel Relational
Another dynamic, when it comes to coaching is that different folks are in different places. That makes building the perfect membership site for coaching somewhat challenging. Because it's not like I'm going to shove everyone into the same first lesson or course, and then into step two, and so on.
I know there are people who do that. I'm not against it. It's a fine way to do things. But then I look closer and it looks more like online courses than coaching.
When coaching is done right, in my opinion, it feels tailored to the relationship between a coach and the person getting coaching. That means custom assignments, custom lessons, and custom paths thru material that you have already prepared.
Problem Three: Coaching Requires Some Flexibility
I've been coaching entrepreneurs for almost twenty years. What I can tell you is that things have changed dramatically over that time. Not just in the material I share like my frameworks, but in how I deliver the training, and the situations these folks find themselves in. Everything is different.
Along with that, what I find is that no two clients are the same. On one call I may suggest one approach and in the next call with a different client, I may suggest the exact opposite.
So when it comes to building the perfect coaching platform, I want flexibility in the way I automate things.
Problem Four: Integrations Are Work
Lastly, there's the dynamic of integrations. This is where most platforms struggle a bit. They have one way they do their things and that's that. So they might offer Stripe, but no other payment solutions. They might offer flat fees but not recurring payments. Or only use one system for outbound emails.
Right now I send invoices, emails, and meeting invitations out manually. And I use asynchronous video for pre-sales.
Because I have a day job and my coaching sessions are either before I start my day, or after work is done. And because most of the platforms I use only *kind of* talk to each other.
As always, there are two approaches you can take when trying to build the perfect membership site for coaches. The first is that you build your own. The second is that you find a platform that doesn't lock you into doing things the only way they know how (and how they want you to work).
Personally I'm not a fan of any system that makes you change how you do work to match their features. So for the longest time I've tested and rejected most coaching platforms.
This is why I'll start with the first option – to build your own.
Option One: Build the Perfect Membership Site for Coaches
If I was going to build my own coaching platform today, I'd likely look at a combination of a strong ecommerce plugins, a powerful membership plugin, some courseware features, and marketing automation. All on WordPress – because that's the platform I know best. That's a lot to pull together, but you could do it with:
- WooCommerce (the ecommerce plugin)
- Autonami (the marketing automation)
- WishList Member (the membership plugin)
Now, you know I love LearnDash because it's the leading player in the WordPress LMS game, but WishList Member is working on their own courseware features, and they've recently released new deep integrations with Autonami.
High Level – What I Would Do
I would allow coaching clients to sign up for coaching via WooCommerce. Then use the integrations between WooCommerce and WishList Member, and between WooCommerce and Autonami, to kick off the access to pages, posts, course material, and outbound email sequences.
From there, I'd likely use integrations between form plugins and Autonami to trigger additional emails with files as part of homework, or to deliver some of my frameworks.
I'd likely add something like an integration with SavvyCal to work on the scheduling of appointments.
And the power of automations from Autonami, and from WishList Member would do most of the work for me. The WishList Member automations are incredibly powerful and leave most membership plugins in the dust when it comes to event triggers and workflows. Any other membership plugin would require the addition of Uncanny Automator.
Low Level – What I Would Do
Basically, I'd set things up so that when a coaching client signs up, they get access to a page with an intro video. I would likely give them access to ZipMessage so that they could message me whenever they want. But that would be on a protected page (only for folks in the right membership plan).
From there, I'd use WishList Member to create pages just for them (in one-on-one coaching) where I'd drop the videos of our calls (or the Zoom details before our calls).
And on those pages, I'd leave forms that would allow them to get access to things like frameworks, or submit / complete homework assignments.
I'd use the form completion to trigger automations like emails and forward progress to get them access to more material (or protected content).
Speaking of WishList Member, they're having a sale right now.
Option Two: Use a Flexible Coaching Platform
Is there another way? A platform that is flexible and allows me to run a coaching program without building my own platform?
I've digging into a new coaching platform that eliminates my need to build my own coaching platform.
But I don't know if it's going to do it for me. I'm just getting started. But I will say this – it looks really promising. I'll write a deeper review when I finish putting it thru it's paces.
The platform? It's called upcoach.
- protected content
- homework assignments
- meeting appointments
and it looks like billing is near.
The folks at upcoach are also doing their own special right now to get you onboarded, so check them out too.
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