Should You Create Private Coaching, Group Coaching, or Online Course?

Private Coaching VS Group Coaching VS Online Course: Which Should You Create?

Have you been thinking about creating a Private Coaching Program, Group Coaching Program or maybe even an Online Course?

While there are many types of offerings that can can lead to the successful business you desire, today, I want to explore these 3 common paths that I find many of my clients debating between to help you decide which is the best fit for your service-based business.

As you explore your options, keep in mind that you don't have to choose just one and you can also create a "combination offer" that incorporates elements of 2, or even all 3 options. 

Prefer to watch? Catch the replay of this training inside The Daring Fempreneur Facebook group.

Private Coaching Program

What is it?

A Private Coaching Program takes what you do (your tools and techniques) and transforms them into a highly desirable program that takes your clients from the pain of their current situation to the outcome they desire.

This typically happens through a step-by-step Signature Process you create based on your own journey or from the knowledge you’ve gained over the years working with clients … or, ideally, both!

Your Private Coaching Program will be your top-level offering in your business. 

It’s where you do your deepest, most comprehensive work and create the greatest transformation for your clients.

And it carries a premium price tag to match. 

Benefits/Pros 

  • Perfect for intangible services like coaching. A Private Coaching Program brings your tools, methods and strategies together into a comprehensive program, focused on results, so your potential clients can see the value in hiring you.
  • Creates a container around your body of work which builds trust and leads to more sales because potential clients can clearly see the process laid out before them. 
  • Clients tend to get better results. Your Private Coaching Program is hands-on and much more supportive than an Online Course. Better results lead to better testimonials, which leads to more clients for you!
  • Saves you time because you don’t have to recreate the wheel for every new client you work with. Even if your program is custom, there will still be a general process that can save you time.
  • Once you build your signature program, it’s much easier to create leverage in your business by breaking off pieces into VIP Days, retreats or workshops. Or, if you want to, you can transition it into a Group Program or Online Course.
  • Great option when you need to make money quickly - if you’re new in business and don’t have a large audience yet, selling a high-ticket, Private Coaching Program will make you more money faster, than trying to create and sell a low-ticket course.

Challenges/Cons 

  • Requires more upfront thought, considering each step or phase in your Signature Process.
  • Takes more time to create if you’re building in training videos, workbooks and other content. But keep in mind that you can start without a bunch of content. Just get going with 1:1 private coaching (offered within the context of a program) and build in content later in future iterations. 
  • Higher price tag - may be financially out of reach for some clients. But you could always offer a scholarship if you like and of course, offer a payment plan.
  • More time commitment on behalf of your clients. People looking for quick fixes may not like this.
  • Limits your impact and earning potential -  your time and energy is limited. You’ll eventually max out your client capacity and earning potential with this model.

Group Coaching Program

What is it?

A Group Program guides a group of clients (typically 5-50) through a step-by-step process leading up to a predefined outcome.

A group program can be 8 weeks to one year long and can follow the same structure as your Private Program (only in a group setting), or it can be a deep dive into a specific module from your Private Signature Program. 

In some cases, you may even offer a group program that’s completely separate from your Signature Program curriculum. But ideally, it’s best to keep them aligned.

For example, my Private Signature Coaching Program  is made up of 7 phases:

  1. Build Your Personal Brand
  2. Pinpoint Your Profitable Niche
  3. Master Your Messaging
  4. Package, Price and Sell Your Signature Program
  5. Pull Together Your Website Copy
  6. Set Up Your Systems
  7. Create Your Marketing Strategy

If I wanted to, I could offer a Group Program focused on Phase 4: How to Package, Price and Sell Your Signature Program.

But at this time, I’ve chosen not to offer Phase 4 as a separate Group Program and instead offer a group version of my Private Program that walks clients through all 7 phases.

In addition to my group program that models my Private Coaching Program, I also offer a completely separate 8-week group program called Meetup Mastery. 

This program evolved out of my experience building a successful Meetup group and people asking me how I did it. But because it’s not essential to my signature process and building a Meetup group isn’t necessarily the best choice for all of my clients, I keep it as a separate offer.

Benefits/Pros

  • Automation - content can be automated so you don’t have to continually teach the same concepts over and over again like you might for private clients. Instead, your group clients can watch the training videos, complete their workbooks and after doing the work, they can come to you (during group calls or in your Facebook group) for specific questions and guidance. 
  • Leverage - although you won’t be able to charge as much for a Group Program as a 1:1 Program, you will be able to help more people … which will lead to more income and impact in the big picture. For example, if you sell your Private Coaching Program for 10K and your Group Program for 5K (and 12 people sign up for your Group Program), you’d be able to help 12 people get results (rather than just 1) and you’d make 60K (rather than just 10K).
  • The group experience - sometimes Group Programs can be even more transformative than 1:1 programs because participants can tap into each others’ experience for inspiration, connection and accountability.

Challenges/Cons

  • Less flexibility than 1:1 - Private Coaching Programs can lend themselves to more flexibility (although I still recommend delivering your Private Program with some structure). When you’re working privately with just one person, there’s more leeway to go with what comes up in the moment and take deeper dives into certain areas or modules where your client needs the most support.  
  • Easier for clients to hide - in a group setting, some participants think they can get away with not doing their homework because no one will notice. And in many cases, this is true! As the leader of a Group Coaching Program, it’s important to build in accountability so no one gets left behind. A couple ideas: 1) You could pair participants up with accountability buddies or 2) create a little friendly competition with prizes for special achievements. 
  • Requires more content creation - in most cases, a Group Program will require time and effort on your part, creating training content such as videos and workbooks. With 1:1 programs it’s easier to get by without much content (sometimes you don’t need any at all). 
  • More pressure  - ah, the dreaded thought of launching a Group Program and only having one or two people join! Just the thought is so embarrassing that it stops some coaches from launching a group before they even try! Then, once you start your group, everyone’s eyes are on you - there’s more pressure to think on your feet and help your clients solve problems in the moment while everyone is watching! 
  • Requires more marketing hustle - if you’re used to finding private clients by referral or when someone comes across your website, filling a group program will require you to put yourself out there in a bigger way. You’ll need a solid launch strategy, such as a webinar or Facebook group challenge and you’ll need to tap into your network and email list.

Online Course 

What is it?

Online courses have become all the rage for coaches who dream of making money while they sleep. Who wouldn’t want that, right?!

But what exactly is an Online Course and is it really as great as it’s cracked up to be?

An online course is basically a self led training, focused on a specific topic, that’s delivered through an online platform such as Kajabi.

It could be delivered in a single session or over multiple modules, although it’s important to keep your course topic focused. 

For example, in most cases, you wouldn’t want to create an online course that walks someone through your entire Signature Program (private or group). Rather, you’d want to break off modules from your Signature Program and sell them as separate online courses.

Benefits/Pros

  • Hands off - choose your delivery methods (video, audio, email, downloadable files, workbooks, etc.) then set it and “forget it” - no live coaching required (“Forget it” in quotation marks because there will always be content updates and things to tweak in your funnel).
  • Leverage - you can create your course once but sell it hundreds or thousands of times. This allows you to serve more people at a lower cost and make more money in the big picture.
  • Perfect for self starters - clients who are highly motivated and don’t want the extra commitment of showing up for coaching sessions or contributing to a group will love the freedom and flexibility Online Courses can offer. They can study a topic on their own time, in the comfort of their own home and not have to worry about anyone looking over their shoulder as they do.
  • No one is left out - adding an Online Course into your lineup of offerings, gives you something to offer people who can’t afford you high-ticket private or group coaching programs.
  • Great introduction to your work - courses can stand on their own, but they can also serve as a powerful introduction to you and your work. Ideally your course is set up to lead into a higher-ticket offer such as a Private or Group Coaching Program.

Challenges/Cons

  • Low completion rates - do a quick Google search and you’ll soon discover that only about 5% - 20% of the people who purchase online courses actually complete them. Even better, if you’ve offered your own Online Course in the past, your platform should have a way to track student progress so you can see for yourself how your course is stacking up. Low completion rates lead to less than awesome results which leads to lackluster testimonials (if any at all).
  • Increased marketing costs - Networking and referrals may work for your Private Program and even your Group Program, but you’ll likely need to supplement these strategies with paid advertising, such as Facebook ads if you want to continually bring new students into your course.
  • Technology expenses - if you want to run a well-oiled, professional course, you’ll need a platform to run it on such as Kajabi. While there’s many platforms out there, they come with a monthly subscription fee you’ll need to be prepared to pay.

Now that you know the pros and cons of Private Coaching Programs, Group Coaching Programs and Online Courses, which one (or combination of two) is the best fit for the business you want to build?

Want to Take This Deeper?

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Watch the replay that goes with this blog post here.

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