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Adam Haines
Improving Physical Ability Organising and Planning

Choosing the Right Online Coaching Model

Freely available until 30 June 2021 and then exclusive to UK Coaching Subscribers. Part two of Adam Haines’ six-step guide to becoming a successful online coach

Now you have discovered the foundations of what it takes to be successful when coaching online, it is time to explore some of the different online business models that you may wish to consider to implement with your own coaching practice. 

There are several online business models that you can adopt and it is important to remember that there is no right or wrong option. Every model has its positive and negative elements. The right model for you entirely depends on which one best suits your coaching practice and your clients/participants.

Popular online coaching models

Choosing the right online coaching model is going to be fundamental to achieving success in the world of online coaching. You also need to understand that each business model has numerous methods of delivery so it is important to understand which model works for your audience before you decide on the method of delivery.

The High Volume Coaching model requires you to work with a large amount of clients/participants. Clients/participants are usually managed through some form of hosted website, platform or app on a membership basis – whether that be your own or a third party offering. 

This model is sold at a lower price point than the other models. 

Whilst this makes it more accessible it also means that it will be more competitive, and audience loyalty will be an issue, with a high turnover of customers as people look for the cheapest product.

Due to the nature of the high volume model you would usually be required to work via templated or structured pre-written coaching programmes that will allow you to work with the high number of people engaging with your offering.  


  • Allows you to reach a large audience
  • Unlimited potential to scale up


  • Highly competitive
  • High turnover of customers
  • Lots of administration time required
  • May lose the personal touch of coaching
  • Large marketing budget required to gain and maintain your audience

The medium coaching model would mean that you would be working with an audience size ranging from 5 to 50 people. Due to working with a lower number of people you are able to offer a more personalised service and this in return allows you to charge a higher price point for your services.

This is often the preferred model for coaches as it doesn’t require a large marketing budget and it is much easier to build all-important client/participant loyalty due to the personalised approach. 

You will find that there is less turnover on this model than the high volume option, however this does have to be reflected in your level of service if you are charging a higher price point. 

This model allows you to sculpt your own programming style and you can create a bespoke personalised service for your clients or participants. You may still wish to use third party software to help you with the delivery of your coaching, however this model allows for more flexibility with software requirements and you may wish to tailor the deliverable based on the individual needs of your clients/participants. 


  • Doesn’t require reach – utilise your existing audience
  • Low turnover of customers
  • Keep a level of personalisation with clients/participants
  • Minimal marketing spend needed


  • Limited opportunity to scale your business
  • Takes time to build a loyal audience 
  • The same time constraints as when programming 1:1 coaching 

The High Value VIP Coaching model may provide you with the biggest financial reward, however this model requires exceptional levels of service and is very demanding on your time. The audience for this model would be highly affluent clients/participants that expect every aspect of their needs to be delivered via a truly bespoke VIP service with guaranteed results.

With this model there is minimal turnover due to the bespoke nature of the service and close relationship you will have your clients/participants. Although this model yields minimal turnover if the service and delivery is implemented correctly, if you do lose a client/participant that will equate to you losing a large percentage of your business. You may find it difficult to replace a client/participant in this model as you need to have access to high net worth individuals that are bought in to your services. 


  • Minimal customer turnover
  • Financially rewarding
  • The same personal relationship with clients/participants as 1:1 coaching


  • Extremely time consuming
  • Difficult to find customers
  • Reliant on outstanding levels of service 

Exploring the deliverables of each coaching model

Once you have decided on the coaching model that best suits your coaching practice and audience you can then explore the methods of delivery that can be implemented with each model. 

Again, there are no right or wrong methods of delivery; choose the deliverable that you enjoy coaching and is best suited to your clients/participants’ needs. It may be that you choose to implement a variety of the three deliverable models below. 

Just because you are making the transition to online coaching doesn’t mean that you have to lose the personalised approach you use when coaching in person. 

When delivering 1:1 online coaching you will be giving the client/participant a coaching programme to follow along with support and regular accountability check-ins. You are simply taking your current in-person coaching business and transferring the same services online with personal contact being replaced by a digital alternative.

One of the great benefits of this method is that you are no longer restricted by location. This method can be delivered anywhere in the world at a time that suits you, giving you flexibility within your coaching practice. This method of delivery allows you to work with a higher number of people than you would be able to do so in person, especially if you create automated systems that allow you to streamline processes, such as check-ins and assessments. 

Delivering 1:1 online coaching allows you to fully customise the experience based on individual needs, which means you have the ability to adapt your coaching style to deliver great results every time.

This method is usually more cost effective for the client/participant compared to in person 1:1 coaching, depending on the level of service that you provide. 

If your clients/participants are team based, this method would be best suited to your coaching practice. Online group coaching is also a great method of delivery if building and growing a community is important to your practice. 

One of the key benefits to group coaching is that you can create templated programming that the entire group follows, creating efficiency in time whilst still making minor individualised adjustments as needed.  

Online group coaching is usually based on volume and, due to a lower level of individualised service compared to the 1:1 online coaching model, it is also usually more cost effective to the client/participant. 

It is a great way to build a thriving community of like-minded individuals that are working towards a unified goal. 

The community requires consistent nourishment through regular contact and interaction but once up and running you will create a snowball effect and individuals will begin to motivate and support others within the community, creating a sense of belonging which will help you to build and retain a loyal customer base. 

The LIVE online coaching model bares the most resemblance to traditional in person coaching. This model can be used for both 1:1 online coaching and online group coaching. 

LIVE online coaching is more accessible than ever thanks to cutting edge software development that can be used to host LIVE coaching sessions. 

If used in a 1:1 coaching environment, you can create an immersive interactive experience that allows you to provide feedback and corrective prompts as you would in person. This is great for those clients/participants that require personal interaction to feel as though they are still being coached.  

This method is highly suitable to an audience new to coaching as it allows you to both assess and correct your client/participants’ practice. 

If you are using LIVE online coaching in a group setting it allows you to create a team or class environment and will help you to build a sense of community within your practice.

As with the two previous methodologies, LIVE online coaching doesn’t restrict you to a location and you can coach people from all over the world, however be aware that this can be restrictive dependant on where your client/participant is located and the relevant time zones.

One drawback to the LIVE online coaching method is that it is highly competitive and many large companies, including retail and commercial entities, are using LIVE coaching methodologies to reach their audience and they are dominating the market in this realm, with more LIVE coaching products being readily available than ever before. 


Deciding which model and methodology to apply to your coaching practice can be a daunting decision. Write out scenarios for each model and methodology in relation to your practice, and if you already have an active client/participant base, ask them for their feedback on which scenario would best meet their needs. 

Be conscious that service delivery is key. If you fail to service your chosen online business model effectively your business will suffer. 

It is much easier to keep an active client/participant by providing a service that they both want and need than trying to source a new client/participant. 

Guide to Online Coaching

Read the rest of the six-part series geared towards helping you develop your skills and business acumen as an online coach

Continue reading

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Adam Haines