An investment in yourself is one of the best investments you can make–I’m all about self-mastery and personal development. If you want to spend your money on bettering yourself, whether that’s in the form of ebooks, courses, or coaching, I am 100% in support of that spending decision. This being said, however, there are plenty of individuals who are hoping to capitalize on your personal pursuit of excellence…some of whom who care much, much more about lining their own pockets than they do about actually helping anyone. And if we’ve learned anything from five seasons of Catfish, it’s that you can be anybody on the Internet. Woof. Look, no matter what industry you’re in, there will always be shady people, but the online coaching industry seems to be an especially scammy sector as of late. So, get smart–protect yourself! Here are five things you should do before signing up for a coaching package, mentorship opportunity, or e-course of any kind.
1. Research the hell out of your coach.
I’m one of those weird people who reads reviews about virtually anything before making a purchase, but even if you don’t share my obsession for Internet recon, you should be researching your potential coach hardcore before signing on the dotted line. Things you may want to find out include their qualifications, how long they’ve been coaching or doing what they’re doing, and whether they’re respected, well-liked, or well-reviewed. You may also want to figure out WHY they decided to start coaching and what “success” looks like to them…and if they became successful from coaching, or from something else entirely. I think this is especially critical if you’re looking for coaching on BEING a coach or building your business, versus if you’re looking for someone to assist you with learning a skill or accomplishing a goal. That isn’t to say that someone has to have exclusively been a coach to be successful IN coaching, but if someone built a successful business that didn’t have much of a coaching component, you might want to question why they didn’t continue doing that instead of teaching other people to become coaches. Coaching makes the ORIGINAL individual money, but does it really do anything for the majority of their clients? This brings us to tip number two…
2. Ask to speak to past clients.
Past performance is the best indicator of future success. Here’s the thing: just because someone posts inspiring quotes, sends a decent sales email, has a lot of followers or Facebook fans/friends doesn’t mean that they’re legit (because HELLO, you can BUY those things now!) or that their program will work for you. Don’t just believe testimonials or take published feedback at face value. Do your own research and investigate! Ask to speak to past clients or partners first, but don’t be afraid to take matters into your own hands if you don’t get a response or just want more info, either. If someone isn’t willing to let you talk to anyone they’ve worked with, that’s probably not a good thing! Attempt to get in touch with people they’ve coached or worked with. If you’re in a Facebook group, message other members. Send a quick DM on Insta. Leave a comment on a blog post. Or again, GOOGLE. Try things like your-potential-coach’s-name + review, + scam, or + experience. Knowledge is power, boo. Another note on Instagram: if someone has a high following and you want to see if it’s legit, look at their engagement and interaction on the photos they post. Someone with 10k followers, for example, should have between 500-1000 likes on the majority of their photos, and they should also have comments–real comments, not just emojis or “great pic!–from multiple users on each image they post.
3. Keep your expectations in check and KNOW what you’re signing up for.
Scammy, catfish-y individuals aside, it’s never a bad idea to be realistic and to keep your expectations in check. When it comes to doing business with a coach, this means doing your research, asking questions, and making sure that you really KNOW what you’re paying for before you commit. Obviously, you should be considering basic things like costs, payment plans, program lengths, delivery, and content, but you also need to pay attention to other, less intuitive details. Make sure you have clarity about things like personal attention, interaction, access to your coach/mentor, and accountability and support. You’re also going to need to be realistic about your own goals, ability, and limitations. If you’ve never even written in an online journal, for example, you’re probably not going to become a six-figure blogger and best-selling ebook author within the span of 60 days, no matter what a potential coach claims. It just isn’t something that happens. So, ask your questions, think critically/logically, and try not to get wrapped up in crazy coaching claims–no matter how appealing those “guaranteed” six-figure-months sound. PS, make sure you know what you’re really getting into before you commit! There are many definitions of “coaching” these days, so you need to know that what you’re signing up for is what you truly think it is before you realize that you’ve effectively signed up to recruit other “coaches” and sell DVDs. (Which is totally cool if that’s actually what you want to be doing!!)
4. Trust your gut.
You know that saying “when things seem too good to be true, they usually are”? There is no place that statement is MORE true than the Internet. If you’re feeling like a coach is inauthentic, or a program is kind of sketchy, it probably is. TRUST YOUR INSTINCTS. If you’re feeling unsure, a good way to gauge this is to reach out to your potential coach before buying what they’re selling…How does it feel when you interact with them? Are they responsive and upfront, or do they refuse to answer your questions without first getting “more info” about you and your goals? Even if you decide not to reach out, pay attention to whether or not things seem to add up. Notice the language they use. Do they tend to over-use buzz words (“zone of genius”, “money blocks”, “playing small”, “girlboss”, etc)? What are they REALLY saying? Are they telling the same three big, inspiring stories over and over again, pressuring you to START NOW, or making you feel badly about being wary to hand over your hard-earned money? Or hey, when you think about it, does the amount of money the coach is making, charging, or claiming to be able to help you make seem inflated?! All of those things = red flags! (For a more in-depth take on this, click over to Layla Saad’s article on the trouble with ‘6 figure’ business coaches – so good.)
5. Take advantage of FREE information first!
While coaches want you to spend money ASAP, you totally do not have to do that. Take your time, and take advantage of free info! Many coaches offer free information, mini-courses, or trial memberships to entice you to use their services or join their programs. Even if they don’t have any official offerings, they ALL have mailing lists, and many have Facebook groups. Subscribe and join up! Not only do these resources give you a sneak-peek into a potential coach’s style, but if the coach is legit, they’re also going to be full of useful info, productive discussions, and links to other resources. You might even score mailing-list-only perks or discounts just for signing up! There’s tons of free info that you can grab without even asking, so don’t be afraid to use it. Consider it a virtual test drive. If you’re truly pleased with the free content someone is putting out, you’ll likely find value in investing in their paid offerings, too. You’re pretty much guaranteeing satisfaction with this method!