This week I’m taking you behind the scenes of my business over the last year. I talk about why I decided to become a coach in the first place, what happened after I launched, where I am a year in (including how much money I’ve made) and my hopes for 2020.
My intention with this episode is to help you realise that slow progress is still progress and not to give up. I hope you find it interesting.
You can listen wherever you get your podcasts or listen here:
LINKS AND FURTHER READING:
- Seedling episode 6: The difference between coaches, counsellors and mentors
- Life Coach Directory
- My review of Blogtacular 2017
- Why is everyone becoming a coach?
- Why my first session as a coach ended in tears (and what I learnt)
- Are you making an impact?
So this week I really want to talk more about coaching and specifically why I decided to become a coach and I just wanted to share some behind the scenes with you, really, on what it’s like being a coach after a year of business. And sharing some hopes with you as well that I have for 2020! So if that sounds interesting to you, then settle in, and yeah, let’s get into it!
Hello everyone! And happy new year! I hope you all had an amazing Christmas and, if you were out celebrating last night, I hope you haven’t got too much of a sore head this morning. I’ll try and keep my voice down, if you did. But yeah, today’s episode I really want to dig into what it’s been like being a coach over the last and being in business because I really enjoy hearing other business owners talking about their behind the scenes and I just thought it would be helpful to share at this time of the year. Because I think New Years can really prompt us to want to try new things and launch new things and I think sometimes hearing from other business owners at this time can be quite reassuring and make you feel a little bit less alone. So yeah, I hope that is what you can gain from this today.
I thought I would start by talking about why I decided to become a coach, what my motivations were, and tell you what it’s like a year on from launching my services. And I guess where I plan to go from here!
So let’s start with why I decided to become a coach. Now, I guess it’s something that I’ve always kind of leaned towards? I’ve always really enjoyed helping other people, supporting others, and offering advice. I was always that friend that people would come to when they needed to talk to someone and it’s kind of ingrained in my personality. I am an INFJ Advocate, so if you go to 16personalities.com – I’ll pop a link in the shownotes – you can see your personality type and for me, yeah, advocating for other people is just really part of who I am.
And I guess after going through my own struggles with my mental health, I had this idea of wanting to help other people. And in fact, when I graduated from university, I had a moment where I was thinking about potentially becoming a counsellor. So I looked up my options at this point and what it would mean to become a counsellor and I saw that it was going to take quite a lot of time, quite a lot of money, and a huge, huge amount of dedication. And at this point, I had just graduated with a degree in media writing and I was harbouring dreams of becoming a writer, so I felt like I had these two paths in front of me: to continue my pursuit of becoming a writer, or to drop that and try to become a counsellor instead.
And I kind of decided that I wasn’t ready to let go of my dreams of being a writer, so I continued to pursue that. And I put my idea of becoming a counsellor kind of to one side and instead worked my way through different forms of writing jobs and found myself to where I am today in a company where I write a lot about mental health, I write a lot of content around self development and supporting other people, and felt really fulfilled from doing that and also through blogging on the side. And I had been blogging since 2008 but in 2017 I decided to start from scratch and started my brand new website, which was Blue Jay of Happiness. And I did that because I wanted my content to be more supportive and more helpful for people. So I had this kind of idea of helping other people in the back of my mind the whole time.
And in the summer of 2017, I went to Blogtacular, which is a blogging conference and I got absolutely inspired by a keynote talk from Emma Gannon. Now, in Emma’s talk she was discussing how blogs can be platforms for other businesses. And it made me realise that that is something I could do! I had already kind of come to the decision that I wasn’t happy with the idea of becoming a blogger and making money through collaborations and advertising. I think it’s a really valid career path to go down, it just wasn’t one that felt quite right for me. And by hearing about Emma talking about having it as a platform for other businesses, I realised there were other routes I could take.
And at this point as well I had become more aware of the coaching industry. So one of the websites that I work for at my day job is Life Coach Directory. And through my job I had been writing a lot more about coaching and understood more about how it could support people. And I was also meeting more coaches through Instagram. There was just more coming up and I loved the way they were approaching it. And I realised that this could be a way for me to help people in a more tailored way. Because the thing is, all the writing I was doing through my day job and through my blog, I was loving it and I feel like they probably were supporting people, but they don’t take your circumstances into consideration. So this means articles have to be pretty generalised. And I thought through coaching I could have one-on-one conversations with people and help them find the right solutions for them and just give them more practical, tangible, and tailored support.
So I decided, this is what I wanted to go for. I wanted to train to become a coach. And I actually booked myself a one-off coaching session with the lovely Jen Carrington, who, if you haven’t heard of her before, I’m sure you have, but if you haven’t, definitely check her out. She’s an amazing creative coach. And with her, I kind of vocalised my plans and got some guidance from her. And it was so helpful. And it just cemented to me that this is really something I wanted to do.
So I began my training as a life coach and over the course of about a year I completed my training on the side of my day job, where I was at full time, and blogging as well. So it was quite a lot to take on at the time and I’ve discussed in previous episodes that that wasn’t potentially the best idea, but I did manage to work through it and I got the course finished. And through the course I was working with some practice clients, which was so, so important and definitely something I would say, if you are considering training to become a coach, to consider because working with practice clients means a) you get to check to see if you actually like the process, and if you like the work that you’re doing as a coach, and it also helps you understand what your clients need from you and you can start to figure out your packages as well.
So I’d decided that I really wanted to focus in on self care and self worth support because those are two areas that I feel I have a lot of experience in, a lot of knowledge in, so I decided to make two different offerings based on how the coaching went with my practice clients and those two areas of expertise.
So, in September 2018, I launched my services out into the world and I wasn’t surprised when I didn’t get any interest because I’d really prepared myself. I knew that it was going to be a slow burn when you are known as a blogger, as a writer, for so long, suddenly switching it upland saying, ‘hey! I now do this! Give Me lots of money to do it! is just a little bit jarring for people. So I knew it was going to take a little bit of time for people to settle into the idea of the new services I was offering and I wasn’t surprised when it took, I think it was two or three months until my first client inquiry came through and my first paying client came on board.
And I was so, so excited at this point! I thought, to be honest, that the hard work was over. I thought getting that tricky first client was the hardest part of it and after that everything was just gonna come rolling in. But unfortunately, that wasn’t quite the case.
Because to be honest with you, since that first paying client, I’ve had no other paying clients. I had a few inquiries but, for whatever reason, they fizzled out, and I have offered some more free sessions out as part of an email challenge I did back in the summer of last year, which was amazing and it was a great opportunity to practice some work with more people, but I haven’t had any other paying clients. So all in all, in 2019 I made less than £500 from coaching completely.
Now, this might sound a little bit drastic and devastating and like I’m saying it wasn’t good. But I feel like I should highlight here that I do also work four days a week at a day job and I don’t think it’s quite as drastic as it sounds. I personally like to think that if I was working on my business full time, I would have had so much more time to do outreach, to do more marketing, to do more campaigns, and just more.
So ending that first year of business with just one paying clients under my belt honestly didn’t feel like a failure. I felt like I’d set out to do what I wanted to do and overall I’ve worked with six clients, which was fantastic. And I know that I have helped some people, whether it is through coaching or through the blog or through my writing with Happiful magazine. And now, hopefully, maybe some through this podcast!
And I feel like I achieved a lot in 2019 and I’m really proud of it and it feels like things are starting to gain momentum. But saying all of that, while it does feel like I’m gaining momentum and it doesn’t feel like a failure, I won’t lie and say it was easy, because it’s definitely felt hard. I definitely had points where I considered giving it all up and going back to my day job full time and just throwing it all in. But I’m starting to realise now that all the things that I’ve done in the first year of business are starting to quietly pay off and I’m just, I’m not ready to give up.
Instead, I’m trying to recognise that perhaps something isn’t quite clicking. I think it’s really, really hard to know how long to wait until you declare something as ‘not working’ and I may potentially be reacting too early but, for me, a year with really limited enquiries and one paying client tells me something isn’t quite working. So I’m taking things back to basics and I’m starting to invest a bit more into the business.
So I’m doing this by first of all doing some research into my audience and really rethinking my packages and my pricing. And I did a survey to ask my followers online what they kind of wanted and what they thought of things, and that gave me such helpful insight into what potentially is needed and what things I need to maybe tweak and change. So yeah, I’m gonna be rethinking my packages and pricing based on that research that I’ve done.
I’m also taking my website a lot more seriously. So I’ve – I’m moving it from wordpress.com to wordpress.org, which gives me a lot more control over things. And I’ve also paid to have a designer completely redesign it. And that was an investment in obviously money and it’s quite a scary thing to do that, especially when you’ve not made much money in the first year. But I knew that my website, as it was, wasn’t doing the job for me. So when I first set up Blue Jay of Happiness, I set it up as a blog and its main role was to share blogs and content with people. But now, that’s not where I’m at now. Now I want people to know about my coaching, I want people to know about my podcast, about the different streams of content I create so this is what the new website is gonna be. It’s gonna be more tailored to my coaching services and telling people how they can get support and the different ways they can get support. And that’s going to be launching on Sunday the 5th, so yes, I’m really excited to share that with you. Definitely check out bluejayofhappiness.com on that day and you can see what I’m talking about!
Also, this year I’m gonna be learning more about neuro linguistic programming, or NLP. And this is just another kind of layer to add to my coaching work and hopefully help me really refine my skills.
And finally, I’ve also invested in a marketing course by Kayte Ferris, which is called Playbook. And that’s all about marketing for facilitators. And I really hope that that’s going to fill in any gaps that I’m potentially missing in my marketing and help me to be more confident in my marketing of my services in 2020.
So, will all this make a difference? Honestly, who knows. What I do know, however, is that I feel like momentum is growing. I feel like 2019 was a year of doing a lot of ground work and that 2020 is maybe gonna be the year that things come to fruition. I know that I have something to offer in this industry, so I’m gonna keep going.
I’ve got goals that I want to meet this year, including increasing the amount of paid client work, potentially reducing my days at my day job if that works out for both myself and for the employer, and I dunno, I just have a good feeling about 2020. And I’m not willing to throw in the towel. I’m definitely just gonna keep my head down and keep going.
So there we go! I know this wasn’t my usual episode with kind of helpful takeaways but I hope it was interesting for you to hear nonetheless. I really enjoy hearing other people’s experiences so I guess I just want this episode to inspire anyone out there who might be at that point with their thinking, their progress is really slow, or even considering giving everything up, to just keep going. Try and go back to basics. Remember why you started doing it in the first place. Have a look and see if things need tweaking, maybe speak to your audience, do a bit of research, and just remember that it really does take time to build a business. And if you’re doing it on the side of something else, like a day job or parenting or caring, it really is going to take a longer time than other people, so try not to compare yourself to others as well.
And there we go. Thank you so much for listening! I’ll be back next week with the season finale, the very last episode of season 1. But until then, I hope you have an amazing first week of 2020. I would love to hear from you how you’re starting this year and what your plans are and your hopes are for 2020. Definitely let me know, reach out to me on Instagram, I’m @katbluejay and yeah, let’s make this year a good one.