In this deep-dive blog post, we’re going to be looking at the TOOLS currently at your fingertips to build a loyal following of ideal clients and coaching prospects online — plus, I will explain WHY you need an online following, HOW to get one, and WHEN to start.
So, first things first….
When I talk about building a following online I’m referring to:
- List building - growing your email subscribers
- Newsletters - sending regular newsletters to your email list
- Blogging - posting valuable content on your website
- Social media - Instagram, Facebook, Pinterest, and more...
- Podcasts - being interviewed or hosting one of your own
- Guest posting - on other people’s websites/platforms
To get clients, you must get in front of as many people as possible, and you must ask for the dance. This is the ONLY formula you need to focus on to build a thriving health coaching business.
And it is those first two in particular - getting in front of your ideal clients (either ONLINE or OFFLINE) and “asking for the dance” - that are the MOST important things that you should be focussing on when you’re just getting started.
Priority #1 is really asking for the dance
Ask people if they'd like to explore working with you… invite them to a Discovery Chat… pitch your coaching services and offer your support… that is always your priority. It doesn’t matter how many people are already following you, you MUST always stay focused on asking for the dance.
Closely behind that is Priority #2: Getting in front of as many people as possible
You might think it should be the other way around, but it's important to remember that asking for the dance is always necessary — and 99.99% of the time it is up to us to initiate!
Then the final thing Priority #3 - which you need to focus on on a daily/weekly basis - is building your audience online. As a coach and entrepreneur, you need to grow an audience of people who want what you are offering - and who see you as an expert.
WHY BUILD A FOLLOWING ONLINE?
OK, I’m going to have fun with an analogy here.
Building a following online is like creating your own pond of fresh fish (aka: prospects and ideal clients) which you can continually fish in.
If you were just focusing on ‘in person’ marketing - so that top box in the diagram above - eventually, that pond might run dry.
Say you've spoken in every place that you can, you’ve scoured your local area for clients, and you feel as if there’s a limit to the number of prospects out there at this stage.
If you're going online, however, and starting to cultivate an online audience, that broadens your horizons hugely!
The key is to continually build your pond of fresh fish. Keep cultivating your fish pond, growing your audience, increasing your following - filling it with new fish - and then there will never be a lack of clients.
In short: If you're always filling your own fish-pond with new, fresh clients (ahem, I mean, fish!) who would love to buy from you, then you’re unlikely to run out! ;-)
WHEN TO START BUILDING YOUR ONLINE AUDIENCE:
Building an online following is NOT a quick fix. It takes a LOT longer to build the “know, like, and trust” factor online than it does in person (which is what makes people buy from you).
So I would strongly encourage you to do both:
- Build your ONLINE following…
- And get in front of people OFFLINE as well…
To build your online following, you need to start TODAY — even though the fruits of your labour might not show up until much later.
I’ll say it again: this not a quick fix!!
When you put up a post on Facebook, or you publish a blog online, it might look like that’s all that other people are doing - but in reality, they’ve been building their online audience for months, or even YEARS, before you knew they actually existed!
Which is WHY they can put things online and they sell very quickly. Which is why they can get hundreds of likes on a single picture. Which is why they can create new offers in a day and sell out programs by posting just a couple of Instagram Story invites. They’ve built their audience and “know, like and trust” factor over time.
So the moral of the story is - start building a following today.
There will never be a perfect time. And I GUARANTEE you, in a couple of years, or a couple of months, or even a couple of weeks (!!)… you'll wish that you'd started earlier. It’s that important, and it does take time.
THE 3 BIG (HUGE!) MISTAKES YOU MUST AVOID:
This comes with a giant flashing word of warning, ladies.
There are THREE mistakes you must avoid when building a following online:
- Hiding behind your computer.
- Getting bogged down in the technology, and spending hours trying to work things out.
- Not taking consistent action, and not asking for the dance.
Really check that you're not falling into any of these traps!!
Don’t spend hours on end perfecting your website, your blog, or your social media posts. It really is a great place to hide. A great place to stop you getting out in person, or asking for the dance. One of the biggest mistakes I see new coaches make is hiding behind technology. That is hands-down the biggest mistake and sets them up for failure.
Your plan and focus should be always to get clients. Which is why you need to strike a balance between your time spent on building up the technology pieces — your website, your social media, your landing page, your newsletters — and getting out in front of people (yes, in person!).
So if you are aiming for four clients a month, then 10 discovery sessions are likely to come first, and to book those discovery sessions you need to get in front of people — locally. In person, online, but through your current networks. (Go back to that diagram at the top of this post).
Don’t wait till your instagram is at 10k or your website is perfect before you go out and get clients!
I can promise you that the font you choose, or the photo that you place on your homepage, or the copy on your sales page are not more important than getting in front of people and offering value and asking for the dance. Your colour scheme is not going to magically attract clients — definitely NOT more than you getting out there and asking for the dance will! ;-)
So my big piece of advice is: Be really conscious of where you're spending your time. Check that you're not kidding yourself!
Make a note each day of what you’re doing to work in your biz. You’ll quickly see if you’re spending all your time tinkering on your website, or re-writing a blog post 18 times before you hit publish.
A lot of people will say to me, “Amanda, I'm doing everything I can!” Then, when I ask them what they're doing, they've been working on their website. Is it purple? Is it green? What photo shall I use? Is this wording OK?”
Your effort, energy, and intention should predominantly be on getting in front of your ideal clients and sharing value - and your number one focus should be on “asking for the dance.”
HOW TO NOT FALL INTO THESE TRAPS:
Now you know the 3 big mistakes you must avoid, how do you go about avoiding them? Outsourcing is a GREAT way to help prevent all 3 traps, and something to seriously consider as you grow your business and your following.
Some things that you might outsource are:
- Social media scheduling
- Copy editing
- Creating an opt-in landing page
- PDF design
- Setting up an email platform and welcome email
- Scheduling your newsletters
- Website design and development
- Graphic design
As the business owner, it's great to have a basic understanding of all these tasks.
I personally think it's very important that you write your own base copy, or create your own content to start with. These are all examples where you could get a professional to finish things off if it's not your strong suit, or do the design if you’re not that way inclined.
I really encourage you to think about this — what support can you can enlist for yourself, so that you can stay focused on getting in front of people and asking for the dance?? NOT on perfecting your website copy to the nth degree, creating graphics when you struggle with Canva, and so on…
If you’re interested in outsourcing, I made this video and blog post on how to work with a VA to save time and get more done in your business.
HOW TO GROW YOUR AUDIENCE ONLINE USING SOCIAL MEDIA
I'd be hugely surprised if anybody reading this blog post hasn't been immersed in social media over the past few years. We all know what it is and use it personally in some way.
But how can we use social media to grow our business?!
For purely ‘business’ purposes social media is great for:
- Reaching new clients all over the world
- Increasing word of mouth marketing amongst your existing networks and friends
- Building relationships with current clients
- Building relationships with prospects and peers
- Creating awareness and visibility around your business, products and services
- Growing your expert status by sharing valuable advice and information through your social media content.
As you can see, it’s a pretty incredible tool!!
So to maximise that, it’s really important that you’re creating consistent content and that this content is speaking to your ideal clients and/or those who would want to engage in it.
ALL ABOUT FACEBOOK:
You can use Facebook to connect, educate, and inspire your followers; to convert clients; and to get more newsletter subscribers. The beauty of Facebook is that you can post a huge variety of content: Text posts, images, videos, LIVE video of you talking to the camera, links to blog posts and other articles and quote graphics…
Not so fun fact: On your Facebook business pages, only 2% to 5% of your followers will actually see your posts. There ARE however things you can do like Facebook Ads or “boosting” a post for $5 which can get those posts seen by more people. And you can promote your FB Lives to your email list to let them know you’re going live at a certain time — so they can watch live or watch it later, but either way they know it’s there!
Nowadays, I see your FB Business Page as a fancy business card. It's still expected that you should have one, and people will likely look it up and see what you're all about when they first come across you. It’s also a really great platform for live video (as I mentioned) — which is excellent for growing your ‘know, like and trust’ factor.
A Facebook Business Page is also the ONLY way that you can create a Facebook ad — so if you’re planning to run some FB ads in the future, it's very important that you do have one, and you’re growing it. (Facebook ads are a wonderful tool for list-building, for selling your courses, and promoting your programs.)
In summary - it's important to have a presence on your page, but do be aware that with only a small reach per post (unless you pay for it, or actively promote it) - and it’s not necessarily the “be all and end all” of your social media strategy.
WHAT SHOULD YOU POST ON YOUR FACEBOOK BUSINESS PAGE?
You want to post nurturing content on your FB Business Page, not a lot of sales-y content. Think: 80% “give” - 20% “ask” for the buy. Remember: People are on social media to socialise, or to get that “fun” hit. They're not there to be sold to constantly.
YES you can absolutely offer discovery sessions, and talk about your programs — but have a smaller proportion of posts like that. Overall you want to be nurturing and building engagement and connection with your followers so that you can build that “know, like, and trust” factor that sells so well, and helps convert prospects to clients.
(Hint: You can also “share” your Instagram posts to your Facebook Business Page when you publish them. This is a great way to use content you’ve already created — and is something a lot of people do to streamline their social media, and keep up a presence on Facebook.)
Here's an example of my current Facebook business page:
You can change the cover image to promote whatever you want — right now mine is marketing my FB group and my website BUT during a launch I have fresh cover images made to promote my UPswing Mastermind, webinars, and challenges.
WHAT ABOUT FACEBOOK GROUPS?
The other thing you can do on Facebook to build your online audience is create a Facebook Group!!
I recommend you start with a Facebook Business Page first because that is your “business card” on social media. But closed Facebook groups are great too and they're more intimate.
Facebook groups are great for conversation, and very different to a Facebook Page, which is only serving up your content to a very small percentage of your followers (unless you pay for it to be boosted or run ads).
With a Facebook group, you’re having a much more direct conversation with the group members. However, because of the community aspect of Facebook groups, they’re not a place to “sell, sell, sell” — you can a little bit of the time, like during set launch periods, but look at your FB group as mostly about engagement and community-building. Nobody wants to hang out at a sales board. ;-)
My Facebook Group is called ‘The Healthy Wealthy Society’
And we post daily prompts to inspire and encourage community, conversation and connection:
I also host FB Lives in the group - which is a really powerful and fun way to connect with and share valuable content with your audience.
ALL ABOUT INSTAGRAM:
Instagram is absolutely amazing for Health Coaches and Wellness Entrepreneurs — because it is so visual.
As with all marketing, think about the experience you’d want to have on Instagram if you go in there as a follower yourself and the kind of content you're hanging out in the app for.
Instagram is really good for building your “know, like, and trust” factor because it's got that real personal feeling. It's great for sharing “behind the scenes” moments.
If Instagram is where you think your ideal clients are hanging out, and you love taking photos, that might be the platform you want to concentrate on.
In that case, since you’re already creating content on there, just hit the button to share your post to your Facebook Business Page and you’re servicing another platforms with no extra work.
With Instagram you can sprinkle in some personal and professional branding as well.
For example, on my instagram, I’ve got a combination of “behind the scenes,” some tips and inspiration, the occasional branded sales graphic encouraging people to check out my video training series or a program I am offering; then other times just a beautiful flower, a delicious meal, the view from my desk, and photos from my travels or around my home.
It gives people a taste of your personal brand and who you are — and if you always use the same filter, and sprinkle branded graphics, it gives a taste of your professional brand too.
WHAT ABOUT PINTEREST?
Pinterest is used to collect, share, and organize photos, articles or content relevant to your business - and it is more of a search engine than a social media platform.
On your Pinterest account, you could be pinning things like healthy recipes, food, health infographics, relevant articles… Anything that you think that your audience and potential clients would be searching for, or find interesting and useful.
You can also create a board for YOUR website or brand, and pin your blog posts there - as long as you create a Pinterest-ready graphic (as I do on my blog) - this is a fantastic way to drive traffic to your website.
YOUTUBE (AND ALL OTHER VIDEO PLATFORMS!):
Videos are POWERFUL!!
I’m condensing ALL video platforms here, but there are so many to choose from nowadays, including: YouTube, Instagram Stories, Facebook Live, Instagram Live, Snapchat.
Videos are such a great way to build the “know, like, and trust” factor with people. Did you know that video itself can increase conversion rate by 80%?!
They're SUCH a popular way to communicate with and attract your ideal audience, as people like to see you. It’s one thing to hear you talk, or read something you’ve written, but when they get to see you as a person it just boosts that connection tenfold.
But like all marketing it does come down to being aware of your audience. Do they watch videos? Do they want to watch videos? How do they consume them? This is a great thing to survey your ideal clients on, or just take note to see what your peers and competitors are doing.
If you're comfortable being on camera (ahem: I’d say even if you're not, because I certainly wasn't at the beginning) have a go at creating some short videos on Instagram Stories or Facebook Live. With Facebook and Instagram in particular you need to know NOTHING about editing and it’s not “expected” that these videos look perfect. :)
(FYI - YouTube is actually owned by Google so making videos and putting them on YouTube does help with your SEO. And you can also lightly brand your YouTube videos — with a special opening and closing — and voila, you have your own channel within YouTube!)
YouTube takes more work than Instagram Stories/Live and Facebook Lives, because YOU have to do all the editing — whereas the others have fun filters and are more casual and “impromptu.” Choose whichever platform is best for you and your ideal clients.
SOCIAL MEDIA OVERWHELM:
Let's quickly talk about social media management.
There is no way that anyone should be sitting on social media all day every day, in real time, uploading their posts. That will not last long at all I assure you!! And there is no need to get overwhelmed.
Use social media to reach clients globally. Create awareness and visibility around your business, your products, your services.
- Choose the platforms that work for you and your target market.
- Consider using scheduling tools to keep your social media effective and efficient.
- Choose one to two platforms to start with and get consistent with those first.
Further Reading: 4 Ways To Position Yourself as an Expert
WHAT ABOUT BUILDING A WEBSITE?
Now, I want to be very clear here: You CAN get clients without a website.
One of the mistakes that I see is people going off and spending months making websites, and not doing anything else in the meantime.
You think it'll be quick to put together a website, but by the time you go back and forth on colours and logos and branding and photos and copy-writing and all these things, it will take months to make it live and get it finished!!
You CAN do that without a website. Create a PDF that outlines your coaching program, which you can share with people who are interested. Promote your services online. Get in front of people in person.
If you want a website, go for it - but PLEASE, always make sure that getting clients is your priority.
One thing you DO want - even before a website! - is a landing page promoting a free opt-in gift that people can sign up to receive - which will help build your email list (more on this next!). Then as you build your list, you can then send them weekly blog posts in the form of newsletters, you can promote your coaching services, and stay in touch.
LAST BUT NOT LEAST… LIST-BUILDING!!
What is list-building, and why does it matter?
Your ‘list’ is a list of names and email addresses that you collect of people who ‘opt-in’.
(Mailchimp is my preferred platform to send the newsletters out and store your email list. It's really easy to use but there are many other email platforms as well — Aweber is another beginner platform, as is ConvertKit. Over time you might want to upgrade to Ontraport or Infusionsoft — but generally that would be about 4 or 5 years into your business.)
Your email list is one of the main numbers you should be focused on growing. If you don't start building your list, NOW, you will regret it. (Not to scare you, haha, it’s just important.)
So keep focused on growing your list and make it something you focus on every week.
Let's say you set yourself a goal of 25 new names on your email list a week. That 25 people a week would become 100 new subscribers a month. You can see how over 12 months, that could be over 1,200 people that you have on your list.
Whereas many people will go months and months, thinking they'll get to growing their email list eventually… but then 12 months later they're still at 0 or 20.
We all start with our Mum and Dad and friends on our email list — who (probably) don't really want to follow us, or we don’t really want to work with.
But the truth is we ALL have to start somewhere and we all DID start somewhere!
So start building your email list NOW. The “right time” will never come.
The right time is really 5 years ago for EVERYONE, because the bigger the list, the more reach you have, and when you want to sell things like online programs and products, you will need the bigger list numbers to be able to do that.
So list build, list build, list build.
Asking for the dance is your always your biggest priority, but list building is your next most important action-step.
HOW TO GROW YOUR EMAIL LIST WITH AN OPT-IN GIFT:
An opt-in gift is a piece of content that your dream client will be super happy to get their hands on. This is how you give value for their email address. You give away this piece of content for free in exchange for their name and email address.
You want to promote these opt-in gifts anywhere online, not just on a website. Definitely on your social media channels, through FB ads (only if it’s in your budget), and if you guest post or are interviewed in a podcast. Work hard to get people to sign up for it - and always emphasise the benefits of signing up (eg: what they will receive!).
That, my friend, is how you build your list. People want something for free!! They want something of high value. People don't just want useless freebies, they want something that is really valuable and this is where your work on understanding your target market is so important and purposeful packaging is really important.
Ideally you want to capture people with a lead magnet as soon as they come across you — which is why it's important to have it strategically placed on your website, OR direct all traffic to your landing page in lieu of an actual website. I often promote the lead magnet (opt-in gift) in the headers of my social media channels as well! :)
You can also capture names and email addresses in person, at workshops or networking events. You might not be giving them a free gift — but bear in mind this list-building stuff isn't just for online, it's for ANY ideal client you meet — and in any case, if they were a strong prospect, you would ideally be capturing their name and email address.
When you introduce products and programs, your list will greatly impact your success. Products and programs don't really sell to a small audience, so growing your list is going to be key to having success with these things later down the track.
WHY LIST BUILDING OVER SOCIAL MEDIA?
Your email list is your #1 asset because you OWN it. If you build a big following on Instagram, or Facebook, or any of those social media platforms - you’re a little vulnerable. If they close, or if the algorithm changes, then you've potentially lost your business!
Therefore, if you're building your email list at the same time as you grow your audience on social media, you always own those names. You have permission to contact them, and control over how you communicate with them. It's not like Facebook that decides to show your content to just 2% of your following, or Instagram that shadowbans you — YOU are in control. :-)
Your newsletter list is also the only channel it is totally acceptable to sell from, and totally expected to be sold to! Selling on social media channels is okay in small amounts — and when done in certain ways - but it can feel sleazy if it’s done too much.
People are often hanging out on social media to socialise… whereas a newsletter is a place where someone has put up their hand and asked to hear more from you. So it’s a little more acceptable to be selling via your email list. Remember though: Your newsletters should be a combination of nurturing and selling. Not just one or the other.
DON’T FRET THE NUMBERS & BEWARE THE ‘LACK MENTALITY’
Think of list building as building a tribe of people that you'd like to nurture — and even though I said it's about ‘size’, please don't get too hung up on that.
It doesn't matter if you've got 2 people, 200, 2,000, 200,000. Build your own little family and treat them with respect and love. Nurture those that you do have in your community.
So many people can get worried that they don't have enough… There aren't enough clients, there aren't enough people on my list, there aren’t enough people on my Instagram, I don’t have enough FB followers.
Really focus on the followers you DO have, and even if there are only 50 or 200 people on there, and treat them like gold. Nurture them like crazy. By consistently nurturing your list, it will build, and you will have a loyal and engaged community — not a detached and uninterested one.
Find a balance:
Nurturing consistently and growing your email list will have a massive impact on your sales in the long term, but not necessarily in the short term — which is why you need to start TODAY and balance list-building with in-person marketing and ALWAYS asking for the dance…
Get in front of people that you know in your current local and online communities, but keep the focus on list-building on the side, because it WILL have a big impact over time.
And there you have it!
Once you’ve digested all this information, check out the following blog posts.
They are the perfect resources to help you with your next steps: