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How to Become a Successful Personal Development Coach

How do you become a personal development coach? 

You’re in the right place!

In this guide, you’ll learn how to start your own personal coaching business to create more flexibility and freedom in your life. 

Ready to dive in? Let’s go.

What is a personal development coach?

Not entirely sure what personal development coaching means?

Let’s go over it together.

The definition of personal development coaching

A personal development coach supports and guides others toward personal growth and self-improvement.

They help clients:

  • Cultivate self-awareness
  • Identify and overcome challenges
  • Build confidence and resilience
  • Set goals
  • Develop strategies for positive change

Personal development coaches use their coaching process to guide clients to unlock their potential with a personal development plan. 

Is there a demand for personal development coaches?

Personal development coaching is in high demand and it’s a huge industry that includes many, many businesses. Among these different personal development coach jobs are online courses, workshops, personal coaching, books, and more.

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In fact: 

  • 37% of people turn to personal development when they feel stuck in life. (SkyQuest)
  • In 2022, the global personal development market size was valued at nearly USD 44 billion. By 2030, it’s expected to reach USD 67.02 billion. (Grand View Research)
  • The demand for personal development coaching services has increased by 35% since 2017. (SkyQuest)

So, the demand is definitely there.

But what will you be doing as a personal development coach?

Keep reading.

What does a personal development coach do?

As a personal development coach, you play an important role in helping your clients on their self-development journey.

You’re their go-to person for support and understanding. And you’ll encourage them to explore their feelings, thoughts, and dreams.

At the same time, you also work with them to create action plans, set achievable goals, and overcome challenges or setbacks.

What is the difference between a life coach and a personal development coach?

The terms ‘personal development coach’ and ‘life coach’ are often used interchangeably, but they’re not 100% the same.

So, what’s the whole personal development coach vs life coach thing?

Let me explain.

A life coach works with clients to help them reach their goals.

If that sounds a little vague, it’s because it is.

You see, life coaching isn’t a real niche. And to stand out, every life coach has to pick their specialization.

This could be:

  • Mindset and accountability coaching
  • Health and fitness coaching
  • Small business coaching
  • Relationship coaching
  • Career coaching
  • Parenting and family coaching
  • Personal development coaching
  • And so on

Personal development coaching is essentially a niched-down form of life coaching. It focuses on personal growth and self-improvement.

So, while all personal development coaches are life coaches, not every life coach is a personal development coach. But, they COULD become one if they decided to get into the personal development niche.

What is the difference between a personal development coach and a professional development coach?

OK, one last term to clear up: Personal vs professional development coaching.

What does a professional development coach do? They help clients in reaching their professional goals be it at work or academically.

​​Personal development, on the other hand, delves into the broader aspects of a client’s life. 

As you can see, a clear distinction can be made. But there is also a lot of overlap.

And that’s a good thing!

Neglecting the personal to focusing solely on professional growth can be very limiting.

That’s why great professional development coaches also use personal development techniques.

Or to put it in the words of a Harvard article: PD also means personal development.

What are the benefits of personal development coaching?

As mentioned above, personal development coaching explores various parts of a client’s development.

This means that the possible benefits are present in many life areas.

As a personal development coach, you improve your client’s mindset. In that sense, you could also be called a mindset coach.

With the right coaching, you help clients:

  • Boost their self-confidence
  • Develop better communication skills
  • Overcome limiting beliefs
  • Increase their resilience and adaptability
  • Enhance their overall well-being

And the results are clear: 

Next, let’s take a closer look at how you can become a personal development coach.

How do you become a personal development coach?

Personal development coaching is a fantastic way to help others lead happier lives.

But how do you become one?

We’ll cover that below.

How much do personal development coaches make?

Is coaching a profitable business?

Definitely! Especially if you have niched down, as is the case with PD coaching.

According to the latest study by the International Coach Federation (ICF), the average income for coaches is around $67,800. Keep in mind that this figure is based on part-time coaching work.

With the right tools, your personal development coach salary could be much higher!

As you build your expertise and attract more clients, your earning potential rises too. I’ve seen many of my clients go on to earn six figures and beyond.

Who can become a personal development coach?

You can become a personal development coach if you have the right experience and results. 

Most importantly, you need to be able to help your clients 

So, if you’ve ever successfully transformed your own life or helped someone else achieve their goals, you’re already qualified!

That said, to be an amazing coach, you DO need to develop great coaching skills.

We’ll cover how below.

What skills do you need as a personal development coach?

How do you become an effective success coach?

Through experience and feedback.

While there are specific skills every coach should have, coaching itself can be learned.

So, don’t worry if you don’t have all the expertise yet. Because just like top personal development coaches, you’ll learn as you go.

To kickstart your coaching business, you can set lower rates for your first few packages.

Note: Lower, not low.

We don’t want you to undervalue yourself.

Starting out with a reduced rate has two big benefits:

  • More people have the chance to work with you
  • You gain valuable experience

I recommend starting out by offering 3-month coaching packages for $1,500. Once you’ve gathered some experience and testimonials, you can then raise your rates.

However, even with these first few clients, you already want them to get real results. Reaching these goals is the key to successful coaching (and to getting those glowing testimonials!)

What are three strengths of a coach to help clients get results?

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  • Communication
  • Structure
  • Motivation

Let’s go over them in more detail.

Communicating well

To communicate well as a coach, you need to:

  • Listen actively
  • Ask the right questions
  • Be candid

You have to know what’s going on in your clients’ minds to guide them toward the results they crave.

This sometimes involves having those tougher conversations.

It may seem scary at first, but learning how to call clients out is so important. When done with love, it’s a great way to help them grow.

Imagine your client is struggling to make progress despite their best efforts. You might say, “I can see how hard you’ve been working on your goals, but let’s also take a look at your mindset and self-belief. Right now, you’re choosing not to feel like you are worth achieving your goal.” 

Structuring your coaching

Anyone can become a coach, but what sets you apart is helping your clients get results.

For this, you need a methodology that lets you structure coaching sessions effectively.

This involves three important steps:

  • Getting to know your client beforehand
  • Creating a clear call structure
  • Working with specific goals and subgoals
Get to know your client beforehand

Coaching begins before the first call.

Before the first session, you should already have an idea of what they want to achieve.

You can figure this out by sending them an intake form.

Not sure what to include in the form? Then check out my list of useful intake form questions.

Identify a main goal and work with subgoals

Every single coaching call should serve a purpose.

If this is not the case, you’re wasting your client’s time as well as your own.

How do you create purpose-driven coaching calls?

By having a goal.

This way, you can set up each coaching session so that it contributes to this overall goal.

For instance, if a client wants to build stronger relationships and improve their communication skills, every call should be a step toward that goal.

You achieve this by using subgoals. These are smaller objectives that build toward the primary goal.

So, if your client wants to improve their personal relationships and communication skills, you could do the following:

In one session, you might explore their communication patterns and identify areas for improvement.

During the next call, you can work on active listening techniques and empathetic responses.

Following that, you may practice effective communication in different scenarios, such as at work or in their personal life.

And so on.

Create a call structure

Creating a call structure can make your coaching super effective.

You’ll generally be meeting your clients once or twice a month, depending on what you offer.

The trick is to know exactly what to cover during each call. You don’t want to be making it up as you go – that can get messy and leave your clients feeling confused.

While you don’t need a full-blown script, you do need a roadmap that outlines what you’ll be talking about.

Having clear subgoals for each call also comes in handy here.

By having a structure, you’ll cover all the important stuff and keep the coaching session on track.

That’s how you provide incredible value and help your clients progress.

If you want some guidance on how to do this, I put together a short video on how to script your call:

Being motivating

Being motivating as a coach goes far beyond merely being a cheerleader.

You’re there to hold your client’s vision.

You help them see what they really desire and are capable of doing.

When they face an obstacle, you don’t just offer sympathy or platitudes. Instead, you get to problem-solving and find solutions.

Let’s say you’re working with a client to boost their self-confidence. Instead of saying, “Don’t worry; you’ll gain more confidence eventually,” you’ll provide a step-by-step plan to help the client build their self-esteem and tackle self-doubt with practical strategies.

When your client loses track of the reason why they hired you in the first place, you gently remind them of their end goal.

This combination of unwavering support AND proactive steps keeps clients focused and motivated.

Do you need a personal development coaching certification?

So, how easy is it to start a coaching business?

Do you need certifications?

The short answer: No.


While some health and mental health niches require certifications, most personal development coaches do not.

In fact, coaching is a largely unregulated industry. Whether or not you decide to get certified comes down to your personal preference and niche.

From experience, I know that practical know-how and a solid methodology are often more valuable than simply attending personal development coaching programs.

For example, I built a six-figure coaching business in less than six months without having a certification.

At the time, I was working with digital advertising in my 9-5. I noticed I could answer people’s questions about this topic. And things grew from there.

Not once did my clients ask for certifications to prove my expertise. That’s because they noticed the impact of what I was providing them first-hand.

At the end of the day, that’s what matters most: Your ability to help clients achieve results and make positive changes in their lives.

However, if you do decide to go for a self-improvement coach certification, make sure to choose a reputable program like those offered by authoritative organizations. The ICF is a good example.

To save you time, I’ve gathered some useful personal development courses for you:

How do you get personal development coaching clients?

If you’re just starting your personal development coaching business, you’ll need to find your first few clients.

There are several things you can do to make that happen. The key is to choose one strategy that resonates with you and focus on mastering it.

Once you have a few clients, you can take the next step: growing your business.

Let’s take a closer look at the three options.

Tap into your own network

Your friends, family, or acquaintances already know and trust you. This makes them possible clients.

Reach out to people you’ve previously given advice to and see if they’re interested in deepening the work.

When I was building my career coaching business, I approached people I had given career advice to, and some of them became my first clients.

Plus, if someone isn’t interested in coaching right now, perhaps they could give you a review?

Get the Ultimate Guide

for building a
6-Figure Coaching Business so you can achieve more freedom!

Get on podcasts

Another great method is to get on relevant podcasts. It lets you share your expertise and gain credibility as a personal development coach.

An extra plus is that people will trust you faster because they already have confidence in the podcast they follow.

Build relationships online

Ever considered engaging with online communities, such as Reddit subreddits and Facebook groups?

Potential clients might be looking for guidance there. So, why not help them out by providing valuable information?

Building online relationships isn’t only useful if you want to do personal development coaching online. 

It can also get you in-person clients.

That’s because once people recognize the value you bring, they’re much more open to discussing coaching with you.

In this short video, I talk more about the strategies to get your first client.

Next steps

Great! Now you know exactly what makes a great personal coach.

Through personal development coaching, you can have a massive impact.

Each step your clients take with your guidance brings them closer to reaching their goals and living a more fulfilling life.

Ready to put what you’ve just learned into action?

Then get my blueprint on building a six-figure coaching business today.

Want to Build a 6-Figure Coaching Business So You Can Achieve More Freedom?

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Read more:

Life Coaching Marketing: The Best Strategies to Get Paying Clients

How to Get Clients Online: Use These Great Strategies

Life Coach Salary: How Much Do Life Coaches Make?

About Luisa Zhou

Luisa Zhou has helped thousands of students build and scale their own profitable online Freedom Business. Fun Fact: She used to work as an engineer for the Space Station and holds a B.S.E. from Princeton. Click here to learn more about Luisa.

Hope you enjoy this blog post.

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