#219: What Do Health Coaches Charge?

Asking for money can be tough…especially if you have no idea what health coaches are charging across the board. Join Michelle to hear what’s common in the industry and what she’s charged in her own health coaching practice over the last 13 years. Put together a 12 month plan to earn a living doing the work you love at HealthCoachPower.com/training

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What Do Health Coaches Charge?

Asking for money can be scary, especially if you have no idea what other health coaches are charging. But to run a business, you gotta do it.

So let’s talk about what health coaches are typically charging – and why.

A successful business lets you help more people

To start, let’s consider…

To keep yourself in business, you have to generate enough income. 

Otherwise, it’s called a hobby. Or you quit and go back to your corporate job in accounting. Or you’ll burn yourself out, working way too many hours, taking a part time job and still just scrape by. Result: a coach who is exhausted and no good to anyone.

The point is, we need to make money as health coaches if we’re going to keep doing the work. If we stop doing the work, NOBODY gets our help. That’s in no one’s best interest – the world needs health coaches!

But we’re here to be of service

There’s this assumption that if you charge a high fee, you’re not helping people who can’t afford you. 

But when you’re financially stable? And dare I say, comfortable? 

That’s when you can take pro bono clients. Offer a sliding scale. Give scholarships. Work with underserved populations. Produce free educational content. All the things – for everyone.

See, first you have to get paid. Then, you can take on other projects and initiatives to give back. As someone who has been able to give 10’s of thousands of dollars in scholarships over the last few years, I can tell you first hand – it’s a beautiful thing.

How much should a health coach charge?

Your earning potential is unlimited. Remember that. 

At the time of this writing, I’m seeing a lot of coaches charging $1200 for a 3 month program, to start. There are also coaches who charge over $10,000 for an individual package. Or much more for corporate contracts.

I graduated from the Institute of Integrative Nutrition way back in 2009. At the time, they advised us to charge $1200 for a six month program. (And half that while still in school. I had 8 paying clients by the time I graduated.)

So I took that advice. My $1200 clients had 12 sessions, which worked out to $100/session.

What do private yoga teachers charge? Massage therapists? Other non-degree, certification-based professions? In 2009 I felt $100/hour was fair.

Charge for results, not time

Eventually I found that I didn’t need six month packages, though. Clients got results sooner. 

And I didn’t need hour-long appointments. 30-45 minutes seemed to work better.

Remember, clients are paying to find a solution to their health problems. They are looking for a change! That’s where the value is. It’s not about time spent in sessions with a coach. In fact it’s actually MORE valuable to get results quickly. So there need not be a correlation between hours and price.

Result? I shortened my program and my sessions, but kept the price the same.

Maxed out schedule? Charge more.

So what happens when your schedule is full? You can’t take anyone else on.  

Easy: charge more. You can have fewer private clients and start earning at a higher level. You might scale up by adding group programs or online courses – now that you’ve got the time.

When I made this move, I DOUBLED my rates.

It freaked me out a little at the time, but to my surprise clients were still signing up. 

See, money is a completely subjective topic. What feels extraordinarily expensive to one person is no big deal to another. This is important because we need to step away from our personal stories about money in order to operate as a business and be successful.

Sell packages, not sessions

My best advice? If you want to rely on your health coaching business to earn income, stop charging by the hour. 

Sell packages. For at least $1000. 

No one gets results from a single session. When a client commits and makes a significant investment they’ve got skin in the game. They make progress. So selling packages – and pricing them higher – is the way to go. 

What I’ve witnessed over the past 13 years as a health coach is this:

Clients who invest in themselves are more likely to do the work. It is truly a win-win.

Avoid these common mistakes

Although it’s interesting to hear about, don’t worry too much about what other health coaches charge. People don’t shop around for health coaches the way they shop around for cars.

Don’t get stuck at some arbitrary price. I see lots of coaches afraid to cross the thousand dollar threshold– they’re charging $800 when they could easily charge more. That block is in your head. 

And don’t be afraid to offer a payment plan. This is a common way to help clients afford your services, WITHOUT undercharging.

Solve their problem and you’re WORTH it

You’ve heard this before – choose a target market. Help them solve the big problem that’s keeping them up at night.

When you can solve that big problem, you can charge a big price.

For more details on how to get the numbers to add up, join my free online training, Earn a Living Doing The Work You Love. I’ll see you there.


Full transcript:

Okay, hello there, health coaches! Today we are talking about money because asking for money can be, it can be tricky. Yeah, it can be a little scary, especially if you have no idea what other health coaches are charging and maybe you don't feel comfortable naming an amount for your services. Fair enough. It's easy to see what other things are going for. How much is a can of soup? You just go to the store and look how much does a yoga class cost? You know, can just walk into any yoga studio and find out and compare. But what about health coaching services?

Now I have a bit of a unique perspective on this because I have been pricing and selling my own health coaching services for many, many, many years. So I wanna give you some insight into what that has looked like. And I've been working with so many coaches inside Healthy Profit University for years now. I have the privilege of seeing what's going on in their practices and what the going rate is, so to speak. And I'm interested if you're watching, if you're here live, just tell me in the chat what do you think the going rate is? What have you observed or maybe among your circle of health coach besties? And I hope you have one cuz it's so important that we have community. This is one thing that you might be able to share with them. And if you wanna throw some dollar signs in the comments, I think everyone would be interested to hear. Now I actually have an entirely free on-demand training available. It's called Earn a Living Doing the Work you Love. So if you're curious about how to make the numbers add up, I want you to head over to healthcoachpower.com/training. I think you're going to find that very eye-opening.

For today, I was thinking about this very interesting experience that I had last week. You know how sometimes on social media, well I don't know if this has happened to you. I tend to think that when you start getting trolled, you have made it. If somebody gets mad at you on social media, that's how you know you've hit the big time. So anyway, sometimes it happens. Sometimes someone goes rabbid on you and just comes at you. Maybe they're having a bad day. Well, someone came after me because I suggested and I will continue to suggest that health coaches, by and large, we're charging too little. Now the argument, and I can understand where this is coming from, the argument is that it's not fair to charge high prices for our services because then people can't afford them. People who need the help can't afford them. So, if you're here with me, tell me in the chat, do you agree?

Do you think health coaches inherently have the obligation to make services available to everyone at every income bracket? Yes or no? I think there are a couple of being made when people say that it's not affordable, and I'm putting that in quotes first. The assumption is that people who need help cannot afford high prices. Is that true? That may be true for some people, but it's definitely not true for others. I've had clients who pay thousands of dollars upfront, no questions asked. I've had others who they really couldn't afford my packages. So as with any product or service, pricing is subjective. It is so incredibly subjective. What's too high for one person is totally fine for another. They may even think it's too low. Another assumption is that health coaches are obligated to provide services to all. I'm not sure why that would be the case, right?

Brands like Gucci, even Lululemon or Aleta or Gaia brands that we're using all the time, they make their products, they're at whatever price they're at, they're not obligated to make it accessible to everyone. They're a business. What about when you go to the supermarket, you buy organic produce, grass fed beef, even a simple bag of beans costs what it costs and not everyone can afford it. Does that mean that the supermarket changes its pricing? Depending who's walking down the aisle? So my point is, if you want to have a business, you have to earn a profit. You have to keep yourself in business. That's the rub. Otherwise you have a hobby or you have a nonprofit. And if that's what you wanna do with your health coaching certification, I am totally behind that. That is awesome. You should definitely do that if that's where you're being drawn.

And if you're independently wealthy, you have another source of income, fantastic. Most of us need to pay the bills in order to keep doing the work. If we aren't earning enough, then we're not gonna be able to stay in business. Anyone here in that situation, are you independently wealthy and you can do this as a hobby? Or are you doing this because you need to earn from it? And if you're not earning, maybe it's gonna be back to corporate America or it's gonna be back to whatever you were doing before. The real problem is that if we don't stay in business, nobody gets our help. Nobody , nobody at any income level is gonna get our help. If we go back to the old accounting job or we go back to like I used to work in advertising. If we're not out there doing the work, that's not in service of anybody.

So, I think first and foremost we have an obligation as health coaches to stay in business. The world needs us at so many different levels and so many different ways. So we have to stay in business first and we have to earn enough that we are comfortable and able to help others. Here's a beautiful thing. There's an assumption again that if you're charging a large fee, then you're not helping those that can't afford you. Doesn't that feel greedy? But in reality, and I know so many people in this business, when you are comfortable in your business and with your earnings, it allows you to then take on pro bono clients, sliding scale clients. It allows you to give scholarships. It allows you to produce a high value free podcast or a blog or workshop series where people are getting great value without paying you at all.

As an example, I've given over $50,000 in scholarships in the last couple of years because I'm able to do that. I wasn't always able to do that. I have produced two free podcasts for years and years now full of valuable help for those that need it because I'm able to do that. Why am I able to do that? Because I'm not running myself ragged charging $25 an hour, working 85 hour weeks and barely scraping by. That would make me no good to anybody . I would be worthless, I would be exhausted, I would be burnt out. So please, let's throw out the martyr mentality that we can only be of service if we are somehow suffering. If we offer our services at a low low price, that doesn't allow us to sustain ourselves or a business. It's just like the oxygen mask thing on an airplane.

Take care of yourself first so then you can take care of everybody else. Even when I worked in big advertising, and I'd be curious for any of you if you've had experiences in other industries, the agencies that I worked for, we had clients like Bank of America, Dunkin Donuts, McDonald, like all these big money brands. And no one ever really liked working on those two so much. I was an art director, I was in the creative department. We didn't really love working on those clients, but they were the money clients. In addition to that, the agencies always took on pro bono work. So I got to create a website for the Boy Scouts that was really cool. And we did an amazing campaign for the Truth Anti-Smoking project. I dunno if you've ever heard of truth, but we did many campaigns for them. The agency had to make money and do work for Bank of America, for example, even though it wasn't the best client or the most fun client for us to work on in order to then do the really creative pro bono work to do the stuff that really made a difference in the world.

Do you see where I'm going with this? What does this look like in practice, right? I know. Let's just get down to it. How much should you be charging? Everybody wants to know. I wanna say first, there's no limit. And that's something I will even repeat to myself. I have no limit to my earning potential. And that's true. There's no HR person who's looking at an amount on a piece of paper telling you that your salary can't go over that cap. There's no ceiling to how much you can charge as a health coach coach, how much you could be earning. There are coaches offering packages over $10,000 for a single client or six figure packages sold to corporations. It has everything to do with your ability to market yourself. But let's talk about where I see most coaches, especially new coaches. How many of you are newer coaches? And you're like, yeah, yeah, yeah, maybe one day Michelle, I will sell a six figure package to some corporation, but that's probably not today.

Let's just back up the truck and talk about when you're relatively new and I'll just use my own health coaching business as an example. Is that cool? Cause there's been phases, there's been phases of business. So I started out in 2009. That was a long time ago. What was the price of gas in 2009 compared to now? I don't even remember. I should look that up. But that's when I had graduated from the Institute for Integrated Nutrition. And while I was still in school, I started seeing clients and they told us to do this. This was not my idea. They told us to charge $600 for a six month program while we were still in school. So that was half price.

And then after we graduated to increase to $1,200 for that same six month program and it was a very standard six month program meeting every other week. So it was basically a hundred dollars a session once I had graduated and was charging full price. And I thought, okay, that's a significant amount of money. It's not an insignificant amount of money, but it seemed fair because if you're gonna get a massage for an hour, how much does that cost? If you're gonna get a private yoga lesson, how much does that cost? So charging roughly a hundred dollars a session for this package seemed fair. I could wrap my head around that. And if it helps you compare your pricing to other similarly skilled services, I always think about yoga teachers because I also was certified as a yoga instructor. I don't teach yoga anymore, but back then, and it was roughly the same number of hours of training and the same type of certification. It's not a degree, it's not a PhD, it's a certificate. So that was always a point of comparison for me and I felt fairly comfortable with those numbers in the beginning. But what happened was eventually I realized, and this was just an organic process, I didn't have any business mentors. There was no podcast like this. I wasn't getting advice from anyone, but I realized eventually I didn't need six months for clients to get results. It felt too long. And this will vary depending on who you're working with. But in my case, I felt it was actually kind of a disservice to make them show up and for me to show up for two or three months after they had already been doing really great and got all the results they were after, felt like it was just dragging. So, I thought this program does not need to be six months. I cut it down to four months charging the same amount. No problem. Nobody bats an eye, right? Cause they're still getting the results that they want. It's the same promise, it's the same end result. And actually it's more valuable if you are gonna say it takes four months instead of six months. That actually sounds better.

Now, I also realize with time and experience, I did not need hour long sessions with my clients. Ended up being quite a bit of small talk in there that was not moving the needle on any of their goals.

So I realized, especially with the type of women that I was working with, and this will vary depending on your clients, your target market. But I realized I could accomplish just as much in 30 minutes and that fit into their schedule more easily. It fit into my schedule more easily. We had fewer reschedulings and cancellations that way. So same price package now had 30 minute sessions instead of 60 minutes. So that's less time spent in all these ways. My price was creeping up through the years and then what happened was my business really took off. I was getting very busy. I was running online courses, I was running small group programs and these were great because now that I was established, I had enough people in my audience. It's difficult at first to get say 60 people to sign up for some program that you're running.

But I was getting people to pay a hundred or $200 and there were 60 70 of them in a group. So I was still able to earn at a higher level. They're paying less. Like I said, that's a little hard to do when you're starting out, but once you've established yourself, it's a great way to scale. And at that point in my business, I just couldn't take on as many private clients. I was too busy. And that might happen to you because you have too many clients, you're working too many hours, you just can't take on anymore. It could happen to you because you have another job. You have children. We all have limits on our schedule. So even if having four clients at a time is like maxing you out, fine. Wherever you're getting maxed out, charge more. That's the easiest way to have fewer private clients and still maintain what you're earning.

So at that point, I actually doubled my rates, which felt like it was such a difficult mental leap for me to take. And to my surprise, clients still signed. Many, didn't bat an eye at all and they paid in full. Here's my credit card. And I'm like, whoa, whoa, wow. Learning experience. Now of course others couldn't afford it, but then again, I couldn't fit everybody into my schedule. So it kind of worked out These days. I'm still a practicing health coach and if you break it down by the hour, I make hundreds and hundreds of dollars per hour, more than I ever made working in advertising. Isn't that crazy? It's such an amazing thing. I find this to be such an interesting career cuz you can make it anything that you wanna make it. That's a quick overview of what my 13 year career has looked like.

Remember I started in 2009, the price of gas was definitely under $3. Again, I'm gonna look that up. So I know for sure, but it was way less than it is now. Gallon of milk, all the cost of living was less cause it was 13 years ago and I was charging $1,200 for my coaching package. Now over a decade later, I see coaches graduating, all of you graduating with your certificate and some are afraid to charge more than 20, $30 an hour. So I wanna highly recommend if you intend to earn anything substantial with your business, it's not a hobby, it's not a nonprofit, right? You actually wanna rely on this as a source of income. You gotta price your private coaching package by the package, first of all, not by the hour and for no less than a thousand dollars.

Think of the client. Nobody makes progress. If they commit to just a single session, they're not in it. They haven't put any skin in the game. They show up once, maybe another time, whatever, you don't see them again, nobody makes progress that way. And nobody makes progress when they only commit to 20 bucks, 30 bucks. It feels like a throwaway for most people. And of course for some people that is a lot of money. But I'm gonna say by and large people who only spend $20 $30, again, they don't have enough skin in the game, which means they're not committed to their own journey and their own change and their work with you. So it's in their best interest, it's in your best interest to sell packages and to price them higher.

Wanna give you an idea of what I'm seeing out there from the bird's eye view that I get of all of you guys. Some coaches that I've seen lately, like a very common place for coaches to start is again, that magic number. I don't know what it is, of $1,200 for a three month program. Very common. So if that feels comfortable for you, you can know. You can just know in your heart, your client probably won't know. People don't shop around for health coaching by the way. It's not like the way you shop around for a good gallon of gas . But you can know in your heart that you're right in line with a lot of other health coaches out there. Now some coaches are afraid to go over that thousand dollars mark. So I also see a lot of the $800 packages, the $900 packages, but others, especially with a year of experience under your belt, are more charging well over $2,000 or $3,000 for the same type of package.

And payment plans are very common. So don't be afraid of offering those. I always advise making payment plans an option for your clients. The best advice that I'm gonna give you is choose a target market. I know you've heard it a million times. It has to do with everything in your marketing, including your pricing. Choose a target market, help them solve a specific problem that they are very motivated to solve. Develop a signature program around that. And we cover this in depth inside Healthy Profit University's core curriculum. And then the value of your work, not the price, but the value of your work. Like that's gonna dictate how much you charge. If you're solving a teeny tiny problem, not a big deal for someone, they're only gonna pay a teeny tiny price. Wouldn't make sense to pay someone $5,000. And all you're gonna do is help them get this splinter out of their finger, right?

But you help them solve a big problem. One that they've been spending thousands, tens of thousands of dollars on through the years between doctors visits and supplements and medications and other practitioners Who knows what. If you can help them solve that problem, now you're able to charge a big price to match. So pricing is incredibly subjective. What's affordable to one person? I'm thinking of my organic cotton towels from Restoration Hardware. I love them. They to me, were like, oh my God, I cannot believe a towel could be priced this high. But I love them and I understand they would be completely inaccessible to somebody else. But if you price yourself like towels at Walmart, yes, more people can afford you. But you run the risk of putting yourself outta business and you run the risk of not being taken seriously by those who are looking for a high quality investment.

And there's a big difference between your business and my business and Walmart. The biggest difference is how many people are we selling to as a coach? Yeah, when you have a mailing list of a couple hundred people, a couple thousand people, whatever, Walmart is selling to millions and millions and millions of people. So they can sell millions and millions and millions of towels and earn a profit. But when your audience is smaller, your prices have to be higher. It's just math. So I wanna advise that you start where you feel comfortable. Of course, just get started. But do that math for yourself. Even at a thousand dollars a client, you would need how many, an awful lot of clients to pay your mortgage for the year, right? Go on vacation, pay your bills, pay for the car, pay for the kids. So a thousand dollars per client is a starting point.

It's really important that you, number one, sustain yourself. Remember oxygen mask first. Number two, that you stay in business cuz the world needs your help. And if you don't stay in business, you can't help anyone. And then when you are sustainable, you're able to offer opportunities at lower pricing to others. Does that seem fair to me? This is the only way it makes sense. This is how the most people overall, maybe not in the very first year of your business, but overall the course of your career. Maybe you're a health coach for the next 25 years. Think of all the people you can help in that time. If you go out of business in the first six months and you can't make it work and you gotta go back to whatever you were doing before, that's 25 years worth of clients that didn't get any help from you. They need it, man, . Now listen, there are other ways to build your income, of course. And if you wanna put together a 12 month action plan, head over to my free on demand training at healthcoachpower.com/training. I'll see you there and I'll see you next week. Take care, everybody.