how to get your first paying coaching clients
It’s such a scary/exciting time – your fresh out of coach school (or school of life) and you’re ready for your first proper client – you know, a client who pays you money. This is monumental. Seriously – it’s the moment you go from trainee/hobbyist/wannabe coach (and there’s NOTHING wrong with any of those things – they just don’t pay the rent) and become a professional coach.
But crossing this milestone can seem impossible until you’ve done it. So you know what’s really helpful to remember?
“You’re not the first person to have faced that – and what’s possible for someone else is totally possible for you”
So I asked some of my friends, clients and peers how they got their very first clients. Read through them and see if you can spot the common theme.


Lara Heacock Mine was from a Facebook private message to some acquaintances. I got a taker!

Heidi Taylor  I offered my services for free to an acquaintance who ended up referring six clients to me at once! Those six clients were my first to pay me. it is a powerful reminder to me that serving the client in front of me can produce unbelievable results.

Toni McLellan I did things the hard way: I hosted a retreat. (Hint: Retreats are so fulfilling but expensive and a ton of work to run). One of the guests became my very first paid coaching client. Such a thrill!

Jennifer Sparks My very first were people who knew me and wondered what a life and mindset coach was – we met for lunch and I explained – he used my services for 18 months and made some significant changes – Also I found group workshops sold easily if priced right given the confusion around life coaching – I quickly moved my fitness coaching online and now clients come from all over and usually after a free course they have a really good idea of this is for them or not.

Danielle Anderson My first couple came from following up with people I had met at networking events

Sarah Jensen My first client came from striking up a conversation with someone at a networking day and taking the time to follow up with a friendly email afterwards. My second was a result of offering some pro bono coaching and one of the lovely ladies I worked with asked to continue our coaching relationship.

Andrea Owen Friends and blog followers. I’d been blogging for a bit and wrote a blog post that I was taking on my first clients at a deeply discounted rate. I explained what we would do together, what results they could get and how to sign up. I got 11 clients. And this STILL WORKS, y’all. When I mentor new coaches this is what I make them do!

 And P.S. you don’t have to have an established blog for this. Email works too!

Gwendolyn Armymom Latrice MA Just sharing resources at a networking event and following up with those individuals after. That led to doing a virtual mastermind where half the folks signed up to become clients.

Terra Bohlmann Referrals and Networking Groups. Your ideal clients tend to be just one person away from who you know. It’s just a matter of being crystal clear on what results you get for people and how they can hire you.

Rebecca Tracey Mine were friends who were struggling with the issues I wanted to work with!

Keith Clarke Very first paying clients were all referrals through friends and a few through Toastmasters.

Carla Holden At a weekly local event! I’d bring business cards and promise myself I’d practice my “what do ya do” statement. Got my first client and referrals from there!

Jane Willmott My very first paying clients came from social media, I spent a lot of time engaging with my ideal clients and also gave a lot of value away.

Memma Seilosa Clare I wrote a page that spoke directly to my ideal client and coupled it with posts on social media telling people that if they struggled with x – then they should check out the page. I filled my first programme in less than 2 weeks using that method.

Rebecca Boulton My first clients were referred through friends and family but that was when I was working f2f in a therapy centre. When I started doing online stuff they came from Facebook groups and people I interacted with on here.

Jessica Michaelson I emailed all my friends that I was offering free coaching to anyone who signed up within a one month period and asked them to forward to anyone they knew. It helped that the coaching was on a very specific result – baby’s sleep. So those were all free and I started charging the next month since people were still coming in…I started at a low price and raised it monthly until it leveled out.

JJ Carolan Great great question!! My first paying clients came from: a Facebook group that I was very active and helpful in that was full of my target market; my mom; 2 friends; a referral from a co-worker, a referral from my mom; and… I don’t know where my most long-standing client came from. I should ask her. (PS – those are all from before I was working w/ coaches. Those were working with creatives, regular life coaching, etc)

Vanessa Soto I sent an email to every woman I had in my contacts – former colleagues, extended family etc. and I was overwhelmed with responses! I offered a set of 6 sessions for $60 and got my first 8 clients and then referrals. I will add that sending that email was a MAJOR lesson in feeling big time fear and doing it anyway and was so rewarding.

Vanessa Schellenberg I found mine from coworkers and I also had a table at a tradeshow and booked sessions through that and signed up clients from there.

Mandy Grier Friends of friends and social media. I put out FB posts to give discount sessions to help give me more experience and help make coaching more accessible

Hannah Braime My blog, I spent a couple of years building a following before I started taking paid coaching clients.

Stephanie Lin My first client was someone I knew from a FB biz group. And my next few were my brother’s friend and referrals from my first client.

Joanne Tucker I was too nervous to coach friends so I put an ad out on Craigslist to find my first clients, then started promoting on Facebook

Tara Caffelle  I got my first from referrals, then inviting people into coaching as I cruised through certification, and then more referrals.

Michaella O’Connor Got my firsts from friends and acquaintances. Then referrals. Then social media (and still referrals). I can look back and see that the beginning was what was safe. Friends that weren’t too close of friends. Widening and widening that reach.

Horling Wong I mentioned my coaching business in my email signature. I sent out an email to a member in a mommy forum (probably about swapping baby stuff) – when we met, she asked about it and a day later she became my client.

Ramona Fellermeier My very first paying client was a referral from a Finnish coach I know. I met her at a conference called Alive In Berlin – there really are one million different ways to connect with people  Hope that helps!

Shannon Richmond Mattern  Mine came to me from social media (ads and promo posts) and into my freebie training series, and then into clients.


Kamila Gornia I reached out to people I knew personally and let them know that I’m doing free calls. I then closed one of the people as a client.

Did you spot the common themes?

Telling People What You Do.
Making A Connection.
Reaching Out.
Most people got their first paying clients not though press releases or placing ads in coaching magazines (or whatever your coaching school told you to do) but from people who already knew them – referrals, friends, connections from networking – those paying clients by and large came from allowing people to see who they were and how they could help.

Take Action

Ready to put this into action? Yes, it can be a bit scary to reach out and offer your services, ask for referrals, tell people what you do and how you can help them. It requires you stepping into your power and out of your comfort zone. But I swear you can handle it.

  • How can you reach out today to potential clients?
  • Who is already in your network who might be perfect for you  but you’re too afraid to ask?
  • Who can you ask for referrals?  Friends, family, ex-colleagues?
  • What will you commit to do today to get you that first paying client?

Want some support with this? Come on over and meet your new best friends/support network/laughing buddies in my Free Facebook Mastermind Group and state your commitment out loud.

Let me know how I can support you with this – leave a comment and I’ll reply personally – pinky promise.

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