One thing that holistic health coaches have in common is that they are passionate about helping others live healthier, more fulfilling lives through lifestyle choices and mindsets that support their clients’ minds, bodies, and spirits.
However, no matter how passionate you are about coaching, everyone needs to make a living. Whether you are considering a career in holistic health coaching, are currently studying to obtain your certificate, or you are recently certified, it is only natural for you to ask yourself: “How much can I make as a holistic health coach?”
The field of health coaching has multiple applications, so your income can vary greatly. What factors influence your income prospects, and what can you do to aim higher? Here are seven factors to consider.
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Employee or Entrepreneur
Whether you choose to work for an organization or start your own business could influence how much you make as a holistic health coach.
This is not to say that working as an employee will mean that you make less than an entrepreneur or vice versa, but it can influence your income prospects as you start out and as you grow.
Hospitals, clinics, and healthcare organizations are becoming more and more aware of the critical role health coaches can have to improve patient outcomes, so positions are open to health coaches of different backgrounds, specializations, and experience levels.
As an employee, you will have a starting salary or hourly wage that you can depend on. According to some limited data, as an employee, general health coaches make an average of $43,500 a year but can earn upwards of $100,000 a year and beyond. However, keep in mind that as an employee, you do not need to make investments in equipment or pay rent, as the hiring organization is responsible for doing that. Any increases in your income depend on the possibility for you to get promoted within the company.
What is a realistic salary? Check out AFPA’s Professional Salary Guide for more information.
When you go the entrepreneurial route, you are not limited by a salary assigned to your job role. If you offer high-value services, implement an effective marketing strategy, have a plan for steady business growth, have a targeted niche, and minimize expenses, you have the potential to earn significantly more than the average salary. However, it can take several months or even years for your health coaching business to gain traction, as is true for many entrepreneurs.
Some health coaches who are starting out decide to take on a salaried or hourly waged position while building their entrepreneurial ventures to make a living wage while their own business gains traction.
Believe it or not, your income goals significantly influence what you will end up making.
Keep in mind that your living wage is not the same thing as your desired income.
Your living wage is what you need, at a minimum, to cover your current expenses, including food, rent, mortgage, entertainment, and bills.
Your income goal is what you aim to make so you can have extra cash to invest in yourself and your business, build other companies, support causes you care about, set aside money for retirement or your kid’s education, and generally live a more comfortable life.
How does having an income goal influence what you can make as a holistic health coach? It influences your mindset. Once you’ve reached an income goal, you are more likely to slow down. Income goals should be ambitious but realistic. If you have an attainable income goal beyond what you are currently making, you get the creative juices flowing to find ways to get more, better-paying clients or devise alternative revenue streams.
Your income goal should keep the following in mind:
- Service and product pricing
- Realistic workload
- Keeping track of expenses
- Creating an emergency fund
- Saving for taxes
What you charge for your services is a critical factor that influences how much you can make. This doesn’t mean that those who charge more will make more income; there are multiple other factors at play. First is whether your potential clients feel that your rates match the value you provide. This depends on how your rates stand against the competition.
Keep in mind that overcharging is an issue just as much as undercharging for your health coaching services.
If potential clients feel that you are overcharging for your services, you may get lucky and land two or three clients, but there is also a chance you may not get any clients if other health coaches offer the same that you do for less. It’ll also be more likely that clients will ask for a discount.
If you are undercharging your services with the hopes of gaining clients, two issues could arise. First, you could garner more clients than you can handle and still fall short of your ideal income. Second, clients may feel that your fee might be a reflection of the quality of your services and turn you away for that reason.
On the other hand, if clients feel that you offer competitive rates for the value that you provide, you may find yourself booking clients months in advance and securing an income in the medium and long term.
In short, as you decide on the pricing of the services you provide, you’ll need to consider what the market of health coaching services looks like in your niche and geographic location. You should also determine your specific services’ value and make sure that your rates and prices will turn a profit after covering expenses.
One strategy you can consider is offering package rates versus hourly rates. If you charge by the hour, you run the risk of a client coming to you irregularly. If you offer package rates for a certain number of hours or sessions, you can secure a certain income from a client and leverage your time better.
If you want to learn more about setting your rates, you can download this guide to learn how to build a profitable consulting business.
When you are an entrepreneur and start your own holistic health coaching business, you need to consider how your expenses affect your profit.
For example, your holistic health coaching business could have a gross income of $80,000 per year, but if your expenses are close to $60,000, then you are only making a profit of $20,000.
There are certain expenses that all entrepreneurs need to cover, and other expenses that may vary significantly between business models. Face-to-face coaching services usually have to have an office space and potentially maintenance fees linked to the office space. However, online coaching services may allow you to use a space within your home, which will eliminate rent from your business expenses.
Some of the expenses you might need to consider for your holistic health coaching business are:
- Materials (office and kitchen)
- Memberships and subscriptions
- Software fees
- Employees (including yourself—are you going to give yourself a salary from the very beginning or only take in profit? This may depend on how you decide to legally form your business.)
- Digital and/or print marketing and branding services
While it is normal to increase expenses as your business grows, you should generally seek the proportion of your expenses vs. gross income to reduce over time. To illustrate, let’s say that your gross income for the first year of your business was $50,000, and $25,000 of that went to expenses. In this case, 50% of your gross income went to expenses. In the second year, however, you had a gross income of $90,000, and $30,000 went to expenses. So, only 33% of your gross income went to expenses in your second year, rather than 50%.
Remember that, just like any business, it is essential to regularly reevaluate your balance sheets and determine if there are ways to minimize expenses in the interest of seeing a greater profit.
Clients value health coaches with greater experience. If you are newly certified and have no experience in health coaching, it will be difficult to demonstrate how you can help your clients achieve their health goals. When you’ve gained experience, especially when it is in a specific niche, clients will appreciate the added value. They know that you have a proven track record of successfully supporting other clients.
Of course, everyone needs to start somewhere. Some of the things you can do to gain experience include being hired as a health coach or health coach’s assistant with an organization or company that is hiring. You can also gain practical experience by interning with a doctor or by shadowing another health coach.
By having a few good experiences in health coaching, not only will it give you the confidence to look for more clients, it will also increase the probability of clients referring your services to others.
Once you are ready to get out there on your own, here are some ways you can land your first client.
At AFPA, we really believe in the power of finding your niche. Some health coaches make the mistake of offering their services to anyone who will take them, regardless of what their health issues might be.
However, holistic health coaching has dozens of applications in people’s lives. By niching down, you may reduce your potential client pool, but you will have much less competition, and you will be able to focus your communication and marketing efforts on those specific people who will benefit from your services.
When you become specialized in one specific area of health coaching, people begin to see you as the go-to expert for helping your clients achieve lifestyle changes that greatly benefit their health. Your value increases, and so can your rates.
Unsure which health and fitness niche is right for you? You’ll want to read this.
One of the greatest missed opportunities for holistic health coaches is the creation of opportunities to make passive income based on their areas of expertise. Passive income is income that comes in without the need for you to personally deliver those services.
There are only so many hours in a day, so when you are charging your clients per hour or per session based on a fixed rate, there will be a cap at how much you can make. Passive income allows your business profit to grow regardless of how many hours there are in a day.
Some common ways you can make passive income include:
- Creating affiliate links to products through your social media and website (foods and food services, workout equipment, supplements, recipe books, workout clothes and more)
- Selling online courses or e-books
- Providing automated membership services through apps or email programs
- Building a brand and hiring others to carry out extensions of your services