I Used Warm Outreach to Grow a $100k Life Coach Business—No Ads, Content, or Website
Updated: Oct 16
In seven months. Here's how...
Is life coaching a scam?
When I was 26, I quit my cushy sales job to build crappy websites online—anything to get me out of employment and into the glamorous space of entrepreneurship.
After two months of taking on projects I wasn't qualified for, I met a life coach. She heard how I spoke about self-improvement and suggested I try coaching.
Sounds stupid, I thought.
My only experience with life coaching was:
Tony Robbins jumping on a stage and calling people lions
Ads from randos selling courses on Facebook and LinkedIn
Vague promises like "discover the real you" or "unlock your inner dragon angel"
But she assured me coaching didn't have to be anything like that. So I thought, why not? It wasn't like my thriving web design career would last long at my $300/month income.
Where to start?
I texted every single one of my friends to ask if I could coach them 1-on-1 for free. They all agreed.
We then spent the next few weeks on Zoom diving into their current life goals, their fears, and what they would do to get what they want.
I had no clue what I was doing. 50% of these calls were me just asking questions. The other half was me regurgitating lessons I learned from self-help books like Essentilism and Atomic Habits.
But then came my second session with one of my closest friends. Our first call was about her struggles setting boundaries and saying No to people. I challenged her to say "no" to three people in any way.
"Dillan," she started. "I said no to five people. And none of them wanted to hurt me, fire me, or stop being my friend. It feels incredible."
Whoa. She changed. All from one conversation.
When my life coach friend asked how coaching my friends was going, I smiled.
"I want to become exceptional at this. I just started my career.”
How do you make money as a life coach?
I once told a woman in New York City I was a coach. She responded, "Isn't a life coach just an unqualified therapist?"
The bad news for the general public is that anyone can just start coaching.
The good news for aspiring coaches is that anyone can just start coaching.
You don't need any schooling, certificates, or prior training to hop on a call with someone and coach them. That's double-edged.
It means most people have yet to learn what coaching is. They're skeptical and confused. And for those who are familiar, they typically have preconceived ideas that aren't accurate (I was one of them).
But it also means anyone with drive and a desire to help others can jump in the deep end and start their own business.
After two months of pro bono coaching, one of my buddies offered to start paying. That was my first experience with the Law of Reciprocity: give people value and they will want to return the favor.
Terrified to name a price, I gave him a range. "I'm thinking between $30-50 per session." My heart raced as I sent the text. I thought $30/hour was insane to ask for me being a complete beginner.
"Sounds great," he replied. "Let's meet in the middle."
That was one of the best feelings in my life. Someone gave me their hard-earned money for a service I created out of thin air.
But I still needed to figure out how to run a business. How would I...
do my taxes?
sell to strangers?
go from $40/hour to a full-time income?
I needed help. That's when I decided to pay for a coaching certificate program and become a professional.
None of the famous coaching programs offered entrepreneurship training. They were great at showing people how to coach, but I wanted to start making money.
Then I met the guy who eventually became my mentor and taught me everything I know about coaching and business-building.
I had a call with John Strasser, founder of the Insight Coaching Community. He took my payment over the phone and welcomed me to the ICC.
Now I could finally start.
In this 16-week training and certification program, John taught me all the dos and don'ts of building a coaching business.
Let's start with the don'ts.
The 3 biggest lies from the life coaching industry.
Before learning what worked I had to know what didn't work. The shocking thing was that all the advice you hear from mainstream life coaching podcasts and gurus is complete BS.
Let's go through each lie in order of popularity.
Lie #1) Pick your niche.
Every book, YouTube channel, and fax I saw from famous coaches said to choose a specific category of people to coach. It was vital to do this before I started coaching.
So before I could build relationships, improve my skills, or figure out what I liked and didn't like...I had to choose the specific characteristics of the humans I'd help. Then I had to exclude everyone else.
Here are some actual niches I heard from beginner coaches:
female entrepreneurs who feel stuck
people experiencing climate anxiety
Jewish men age 30 and up
travelers feeling lonely
moms who are overwhelmed
So you coach moms, but only if they're overwhelmed? What if there's a super stressed woman who isn't a mom? Or a mother who isn't necessarily overwhelmed but could really use your help?
Instead of helping as many people as possible, getting tons of reps and experience, and building a mountain of goodwill and notoriety as a coach...you're looking for overwhelmed moms.
In most businesses or creations, narrowing down the target customer is a great idea. But for new coaches who suck and have no idea what they're doing...crafting the perfect client avatar is a total waste of time.
You need practice, not clarity. The clarity will come from the practice. You don't pick your niche; your niche reveals itself after hundreds of coaching sessions.
No one cares what you're niche is; they just want to know if you can help them.
Lie #2) Be an expert.
People think you need to have a niche to use your strengths, insights, and areas of expertise to help others.
But that's not coaching; it's consulting.
My biggest fear early on was coaching anyone older than me. What could I help this older soul with? They had so much more life experience than me.
But that was because I thought coaching had to come from someone miles above the person. If I was going to coach a father who owned a 7-figure business, I had to know what it was like to be a father with a 7-figure business.
Effective coaching is empty. It's being remarkably curious and asking phenomenal questions. It's recognizing that people have way more answers than they think.
As of writing this, I have clients aged 22 to 68. Goals include publishing novels, raising kids with disabilities, and growing their YouTube channel to 200k subscribers.
I've never done any of that. And I don't have to.
The only expertise I need is...
asking thought-provoking questions
reflecting the client's words and patterns back to them
challenging them when they limit themselves
Mastering these allows you to coach any human regardless of age, occupation, or pursuit.
Client says, "I don't really know how to spend my time. I have all these ideas and goals, but I have no clue what to choose or where to start."
A less experienced coach would jump on that and try to solve the problem. He'd respond, "No problem! Let's brainstorm. We can build a list of ideas and break down the pros and cons of each one."
But a skilled coach is empty. She has yet to determine where the session will go and bets the client knows more than they think.
"I'm curious," the skilled coach starts. "If you knew you would die exactly ten years from today, you couldn't tell anyone...How would you spend this next year?"
The client drops all the stories and stuckness. They rattle off a series of actions.
move out of my parent's house
open a hospice for dogs—my dream business
love my mom more
just figure it out no matter what
That's how I'd spend this next year."
This example is from an actual session I had yesterday.
I don't share that to brag about my skills (but aren't you impressed?). I share it to emphasize the importance of showing up empty and not blasting clients with your insights and ideas.
My mentor, John, says, "The coach's insights are never more important than the client's insights…even if they're the same."
Lie #3) Build an online following.
Gurus say you must post on Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn, etc. to expand your reach. You must create content—videos, podcasts, shorts—to get the word out.
Meanwhile, most aspiring life coaches are women in their 50s who don't know how Zoom works. They just love people and want to help. Now they have to learn SEO and start a newsletter?
Building an audience that trusts you and wants to hear your thoughts takes time—likely months or years.
But texting five people right now and saying, "Hey! Super random, but I just started a life coaching practice. Want to do a session with me? Totally my gift." That takes 45 seconds and more people will say yes.
Coaches aren't marketers; they're folks who help folks. That means getting on a call or in front of another human and coaching them.
I make anywhere from $2k-$36k/month...
And as of writing this, I have 6 Twitter followers. (One of them is my girlfriend who likes every post.) Follow me @dillanroytaylor to end my search for happiness.
I also know coaches with incredible followings on Facebook and Instagram. They spend most of their time crafting beautiful posts that get hundreds of likes.
But anyone can like a photo. What coaches need are people to coach and eventually pay for coaching.
I'll explain how to create paid clients in the next section. But let's wrap up these nasty lies from Big Coaching.
All these lies force the aspiring coach to do everything besides coaching.
DO: just start coaching.
DON'T: research the perfect niche for your potential coaching practice.
DO: show up empty and curious to sessions
DON'T: dump your own solutions and opinions
DO: personally reach out to people
DON'T: post on social media hoping messages flood your inbox (they won't)
Creating paid clients as a life coach (4 steps).
After 16 weeks in the ICC, I was certified and 50x better. I knew how to coach. But more importantly, I learned how to take people from total strangers to $15k+ clients.
Step 1: Connect
People need to know who you are and what you do. But since you're just starting, no one knows anything about you.
No one is coming. So go to them.
Reach out. Send texts, FB messages, Instagram DMs, emails, whatever. Start with all the people you already have access to.
Here was my order of operations:
people from college
people from high school
people from middle school
random Facebook friends
That's over 1,000 people in a matter of months. I did my outreach every Monday. It started with five people a week. Then 10. Then 20. And eventually 30.
I asked people how they were, what they were working on, and if they wanted to hop on the phone and catch up.
Most people didn't respond or ghosted me. It stung at first but I got used to it fast. I wasn't trying to trick or manipulate anyone; I just wanted to have fun conversations and help as many people as possible.
Which brings us to the next step.
Step 2: Invite
I set up hour-long calls with people so I could dive into their lives. Seeing people for the first time since you had 6th grade math class together is thrilling.
I asked tons of questions to learn about their lives. I wanted to know...
what they did between high school and now
their biggest accomplishments
what they were struggling with
Again, this wasn't a trick. I wanted to know everything because I was genuinely curious. And interest is impossible to fake.
After 30 minutes of telling their life story, they naturally asked me what I was up to. I'd share about dropping out of college, getting my life together, and starting my coaching business.
Most people had follow-up questions. What is life coaching? How do you help people? I've never actually met a life coach.
I took that chance to move into Step 2.
"It's awesome," I said. "I help people crush life. It sounds cheesy, but it's much easier to show you. Let's do a session! It'd be my gift. No sales pitch or anything like that. You down?"
The responses varied wildly:
"I appreciate it, but I'm good" (clear No)
"I'll think about it and let you know" (indirect No)
"Sure, why not?" (neutral Yes)
"Yeah, okay let's do it" (Yes to be polite)
"I'm down, that'd be awesome!" (enthusiastic Yes)
If they agreed, awesome; if they didn't, I still had a lively conversation with someone I never would've chatted with in the first place. It was a win-win.
There are tons of ways to invite someone to a coaching session. Here are just a few others:
Indirect invite: Ask someone who they know who would benefit from talking to you. Then have them connect the two of you in a group message or email.
Birthday invite: See who has a birthday this month on Facebook and message them. Offer them a session with you as a birthday gift.
Holiday invite: Offer 2 gifted sessions to people. Say it's in the spirit of the holidays (any holiday or season will do: Christmas, Easter, summer, Flag Day, doesn't matter).
Review invite: Offer to coach someone once or twice in exchange for a Google Review or testimonial.
The list goes on. Key point: always be inviting people to coaching sessions as a gift.
Pro Tip — Use the word "gift" instead of "free" or "complimentary."
Free implies salesy. Complimentary implies cheap and low-value, like a breath mint on a hotel pillow.
But a gift is something sacred. You never thank people for the 'free stuff' on your birthday.
Step 3: Coach
Once people agree to be coached by you, the next step is for them to be coached by you. (I'm very smart.)
Send them a calendar invite with your Zoom link attached to it. Ask them to show up on time in a quiet, undistracted space. Be prepared to take notes in a notebook or on Google Docs.
Then do what you came here to do: coach.
Chat and rapport for a few minutes. Then ask, "Are you ready to get started?"
It'll flip the switch in both your minds and transform the call from a chat to a coaching session.
Start by setting the intention. Here are my favorite opening questions:
What's the question you've been asking yourself lately in life?
If you could leave this session with one thing, what would that be?
Assume we can create anything in this next hour. There are no limits. What do we create?
What do you really want that you don't have right now?
What's the big challenge for you right now? What's the real challenge?
Don't obsess over the perfect questions or the perfect structure. It will take lots of repetitions for you to find your groove and feel confident.
There are several reasons we give away our coaching as a gift:
People don't know what life coaching is. They have no clue. So we have to let them experience it to understand its value.
We need practice. Offering our services for $0 gives us constant reps and feedback so we can improve quickly.
The goal is not to close a client. The goal is to help as many people as possible, and some might want to pay for it.
We need to see if we enjoy coaching them. There are two people involved here.
So I coached them to the best of my ability. Then we wrapped up the session.
I always try to end my sessions with some combo of, "What did you get out of this?" and "What are you going to do about it?"
Lessons + Actions.
Step 4: Ask
If the session went well, I'd say I want to do a round 2. If they're down, we set that up for the following week. That gives them space to use their insights from the call and see what changes.
Then I'd give them one to three more gifted sessions, depending on how much work we needed. I'd pop the first question at the end of one of those sessions.
"Do you want to talk about what it would look like if we continued working together?"
By this point, we've done multiple sessions, gone quite deep, and made noticeable progress. So it's not a conversation about working together. The work already started. It's about whether or not it makes sense to keep going.
If they're down, we set up an enrollment call. There we explore these five things:
what they want most in life
what they think is in the way
the value they've gotten from coaching thus far
how I could help
the timing, frequency, and price of investing in coaching
After I lay out my offer and the cost, I ask the second question: "Is that something you'd like to do?"
One of two things happens: they say Yes or No.
If it's a Yes, we review the contract, take the first payment, and set up the first month of sessions. If it's a No, I cry and beg them to reconsider.
Kidding. I coach the prospect to ensure they make an empowered decision—not one based on fear and doubt. If it's still a No, I...
thank them for the opportunity
ask for a Google Review
see if they know anyone else who would benefit from gifted sessions with me
I contacted 30 people every Monday for months and took them through this 4-step process. I never ran an ad. I never posted on social media asking people to message me for coaching. And I didn't have a website.
Every invite. Every call. Every coaching session. Every enrollment (sales) conversation...Staying in action ensured I was getting better every week.
I always laugh when marketers promise coaches "$10k IN 10 DAYS!!" If you see that, run away. Then pick up your phone and invite someone to a coaching session.
Here's what that first year looked like.
As you can see from the graph above, it was a rocky and uncertain start.
But once I got the skills of coaching and sales down...once I built the habit of curiosity and connecting with people...
The business was profitable and sustainable.
Since then, I made a website (the one you're on right now). I also got enough Google Reviews for people to find me online and reach out.
With that inbound plus referrals from the folks I coach, I don’t do any outreach anymore. Regardless, I still do those four steps. I...
Connect with people and get to know them
Invite them to a coaching session with me as a gift
Coach them as though they were paying me $10,000
Ask them if they want to continue working with me
Building a 1-on-1 coaching business has given me the skills and space to do many other things.
I've run group programs, led retreats, and started a new company to coach content creators. It's also given me the freedom to live the digital nomad life.
Earlier this year I lived in Argentina for a couple months, fell in love with a Brazilian woman, and am now typing this out in Colombia. I love my life.
This was a long article, but there are so many finer details I didn't explain. Things like sales skills, giving/receiving feedback, intense money anxiety, and much more.
So please. Follow and DM me on Twitter @dillanroytaylor if you want any of the following:
answers to questions you have
tips on starting or growing your own business
a connection to the Insight Coaching Community
to jam on business building in general
to connect for any reason
to tell me how amazing I am...wait what?
to hang out in South America
Thanks so much for reading until the end.
If a dummy like me can make $100k just by talking to people, you can succeed.
Much love. Let's connect!