How To Pay Your Bills While You Build Your Course Or Product
One of the biggest challenges for those of us who are trying to create a course or a product, is how do we pay the bills while we develop the course itself and all the marketing it will take to sell it.
Because, unfortunately, we still haven’t discovered a way to stop the world (and the requirement to pay for stuff) for 2-3 months while we create something new.
But here’s a possible solution: take on a few personal coaching/consulting clients.
“But wait a minute, Don,” I hear you saying, “I’m creating that course because I want to leverage my time and stop selling time for money.”
I totally understand and agree. But…
There is a middle ground, especially right at first.
In this article, I’m going to show you how you can use just a few hours a month of coaching/consulting to bring in enough money to pay your bills, freeing up the time you need to create that leveraged, scalable course so you can achieve your dream of not having to sell time for money.
And, I’m going to show you the math behind it all, so you’ll see how this all makes sense.
Trading Time For Money
Lots of people have fallen into the trap of equating any type of charging people by the hour as something evil, to be avoided at all costs.
In fact, in spite of the fact that I’ve created dozens of courses, I’ve almost always sold a few hours of my time each month, both to have a reliable source of income and to keep my finger on the pulse of my customers’ needs.
Plus there are more reasons to have a few coaching/consulting clients in your business, (more on that in a bit.)
Of course, if you’re selling all your working hours to say, an employer, that makes it difficult (but far from impossible) to have the time to create and market a course.
And, if you sell too many coaching slots, you’ll have the same result.
But selling a few slots, in the right way, for the right amount of money, can literally be the fuel that propels the rocket of your course creation dreams.
Let’s do some math, so you can see what I mean.
Recommendation: Get Five To Ten Coaching Clients
Let’s imagine that you need $5,000 per month to pay your bills. (Note: the actual numbers don’t matter here, it’s the relationship between those numbers that’s important.)
And let’s imagine that you’re able to charge $1,000/month for your coaching services. How many clients would you need?
Simple math: $5,000 / $1,000 per client = 5 clients.
But there’s this little thing called taxes, so you actually need to bring in about 1.3 times your $5,000 goal to actually have $5,000 left over after you pay those taxes.
$5,000 * 1.3 = $6,500
You’ll need 6.5 consistent clients on contract to pay you each month to rest easy knowing that your $5,000 in revenue, plus enough to pay your taxes, will reliably show up in your account on each month so your bills can be paid.
But since I always advocate having plenty of margin for protection, and I like round numbers, so let’s just say that your goal is to have ten clients under contract to pay you $1,000 each month.
“OK, that covers the income part, but Don, what about all the time it will take to serve those clients?”
How Much Time Does Serving 10 Clients Take?
I can’t tell you what to charge, (BTW, I actually charge more than I showed you above) but I can tell you what I’ve found to be an “ideal” working relationship.
My experience shows that it works really well for you to do two 45 minute sessions each month for each client.
That’s long enough to help your client deal with their issues, to give answers to their questions, to help point and teach them how to achieve the next step in their journey, and to create accountability commitments of what they’ll accomplish before your next call.
Shorter than 45 minutes tends to be too short, and longer usually ends up with at least a few minutes of wasted time. 45 minutes is golden. And twice a month is an ideal sweet spot for being strategically involved in their business without being too involved.
Plus, a call every two weeks gives them enough time to actually do what they commit to doing before the next call, a problem you have to face when you’re doing weekly calls.
Back to math: Two 45 minute calls means that you’re spending 90 minutes each month per client. 1.5 hours.
1.5 hours * 10 clients = 15 hours in coaching.
That feels like a lot of time, until you realize that’s not per week, that’s per month. When you divide those 15 hours by 4 weeks in the month, you’re spending about 4 hours per week in coaching.
That’s half of one 8 hour day per week.
Or, another way of looking at it, that’s 10% of a 40-hour week.
Leaving you 90% of your week (36 hours every week) to work on advancing your dream.
36 hours per week * 4 weeks = 144 hours per month.
Do you think you could get your course created and its marketing created in 2-3 months if all your bills were paid and you had 144 hours of uninterrupted time per month to work on it?
I hope so!
(Speaking from experience, that’s very do-able. Also, speaking from experience, you’ll need to buckle down and work at it for that to happen, you can’t just sleep in and relax your day away. But if you focus, you can certainly create and craft the marketing for a typical course in 432 hours [3 months * 144 hours per month.])
But What If You Don’t Believe You Can Get People To Pay You That Much?
I hear you, though I’d challenge you to consider whether it’s actually what people are willing to pay or your own personal hangups about money that are behind that assumption.
Let’s divide the amount you charge in half. So now, you’re only asking for $500 for the same two 45-minute sessions per month.
Again, this is simple math, you’d just have to double the number of hours you’d have to be coaching to bring in that cash. Now, instead of coaching for half a day each week, you’re doing it for a full day.
That still leaves you 4 complete, beautifully open days per week to pursue your dream!
You can do this!
And just in case you’re feeling the scarcity mindset and still aren’t comfortable asking $500 per month to change someone’s life or business…
Let’s cut it in half again. Now you’re only charging $250 per month for the same 1.5 hours of coaching.
So now you’re spending 2 days a week in coaching – leaving three full days blocked off each and every week to create your future.
At that rate, it may take you a bit longer than 3 months to get your course and its marketing completed, but that’s OK, all of your bills are being paid, so you can spend a month or two longer to accomplish your dream.
I’m not going to cut it in half again (you can do the math if you need to, but if you’re only able to charge $125 per month to change someone’s entire life and future I respectfully suggest you should do some work on your personal money mindset, get better customers, or get into a market that can/will pay that higher amount.)
In short, the math is simple – a few contracted, monthly-paying clients can enable you to have the hours you need to create that course and your dreams.
Coaching Keys To Success
May I share some more lessons I’ve learned from experience with you?
There are several criteria to making this work:
- 1You’re not selling hourly coaching. You’re selling a year-long (or 6-month) package of coaching. If you sell one-time coaching, instead of having a longer-term contract, you’ll eat up most of those free hours on marketing your coaching instead of creating your course. Plus, remember that few real changes happen after a single coaching session. Most clients need to work with you over time to actually achieve the transformation they’re after.
- 2Set your clients up on auto-bill, so your shopping cart automatically charges their card on a certain date each month. You don’t want to spend your golden course-creation hours trying to get people to pay you.
- 3All clients sign a contract, that contains a significant penalty for cancellation and a certain period for coaching (a year or 6-months.) When there’s mutual agreement that you can change someone’s life, it’s only slightly more difficult to sell them a year coaching package than to sell them a single call.
- 4All this coaching is done on zoom or via phone. You don’t want to use your golden course-creation time in travel.
- 5Book your coaching calls in advance, ideally one after another, in a day or two of time each week. Serve them well then get them off your mind so you can spend your precious golden course-creation time on creating courses. You’ll be much more productive knowing that all your coaching was taken care of on Monday so you have the whole rest of the week to create courses, than knowing that you have to stop at 2:00 each day to do a call.
How Do You Get Those Clients?
I will tell you, it’s easier than it looks. You can do a full-scale launch. You can mail an offer to your list. You can hold a webinar – all of these work.
But here’s something else to consider, especially if you haven’t yet built a list of potential customers.
Simply get on the phone to people you know who have the problem you help solve. Have a conversation with them, and in it solve some of their problems.
Then gut it up and say – “did you know that I offer a coaching program to help with issues just like this?”
And if they express interest, make them an offer.
This isn’t rocket science. It’s relationships, serving, and making the right offer at the right time.
Which is way easier than sciencing rockets. (I’ve never actually figured out what rocket scientists do that’s so much more difficult than, say engineering a bridge over a wide windy canyon, creating or producing a vaccine in just a few months to destroy a worldwide pandemic, crafting an online launch, or running a country where everyone has social media and whatever you do is, by definition, wrong. Those things are hard too!)
Additional Advantages Of Having Coaching Clients
I’m going to say something unpopular:
I believe everyone who teaches courses should also have some coaching clients, even if you’ve got incredibly successful courses and no longer need the coaching income to pay your bills. Why?
- 1Those clients keep you immersed in your market, their problems, frustrations and how to solve them. Plus, they pay you to do so!
- 2Having clients enables you to figure out, in real time, how to talk to people with the issues you deal with and what to say to help them resolve those issues. That’s invaluable!
- 3Those clients enable you to get actual testimonials: proof that what you teach works. Yes, those testimonials are not for your course, but if you make it clear as you share those testimonials that they come from coaching clients, you can use them as proof that your teachings are sound.
- 4As you grow and hire staff to help you, you can use the recordings of those sessions (with permission, of course) to train your team, to demonstrate how you deal with specific situations/questions, and to expand your coaching offering by training other coaches to do what you do.
Plus, you should be aware, that most of the so-called “gurus” started out by doing coaching.
And that many of them still do it today. Many gurus hire other gurus to coach them through their businesses and lives too.
As you can see, there are huge advantages to adding a few coaching clients to your business, especially in the early days when haven’t yet created the course you plan to sell.
May I propose that you look carefully at your business and situation and take the following actions:
- 1Write down what basic framework you would take to coach someone to achieve the transformation you promise. Yes, the specific steps would differ for each client, but what’s the framework for your coaching process – the process of getting people from where they are to where they want to be?
- 2Figure out what you think you should charge. Double that number. Now double it again. That’s your coaching fee. Now, stick to it!
- 3Write up a coaching letter of agreement. It doesn’t have to be fancy, but should include a time period, what you’re offering, monthly payments, cancellation penalties, etc. Do this now, before you’ve got a potential client waiting to see it, so you can send it right off when you get someone to nibble on your offer.
- 4Write down a list of 30 people who should buy coaching services from you.
- 5Analyze your relationship with each of them. Who could you call this afternoon? Who will take some more relationship building before that can happen?
- 6Create your plan to move each of those prospects from where they are in their relationship with you to where they need to be to buy from you.
- 7Start working that plan so you can achieve your goal of having your basic expenses covered through coaching, so you can spend the rest of your time creating the course you want to offer.
It’s that easy!
Just go DO this stuff!
P.S. If you’re interested in working with me as your coach, I currently have a few spots available for the right people (at a higher price than that mentioned here.) If you’re serious, let’s talk.