If you’ve mused about creating a new income stream by using your professional experience and expertise to coach other writers, there’s no time like the present. Over the past few months, we’ve received a record number of requests from first-time authors, and so have the coaches in our network. It seems that the combination of staying home and facing an invisible health threat is reviving old dreams of writing books and inspiring new dreams. If you’re inspired to help other writers achieve their dreams, these five tips will get you off to a strong start:
1. Create Your Coaching Process
Will you be giving writers direction through written comments, by phone or in video meetings? Are you going to do hands-on work to demonstrate how the writers can improve? How will you help to keep them on track with their goals? Will the process unfold as you proceed with each writer, or will you create a course that can be customized for each writer’s needs? Once you’ve answered these questions and the follow-up questions they’re likely to raise, write a summary of what you offer and how it works.
2. Set Your Fees
Like writing fees, coaching fees span a wide range. Comparing prices can be tricky for writers because some coaches charge by the hour, others offer packages or programs and some do both. For example, my coaching fee is $200 per hour, but if writers enroll in our program BookWalk: Journey from Dream to Publication, coaching is included in the course at the reduced rate of $100 per hour. There are myriad ways to approach setting fees, but for me the bottom line is making sure the services I’m providing are well worth the price. When a writer says my coaching is worth every penny they’ve paid and more, they’re sure to refer other writers.
3. Promote Your New Services
Add a coaching page to your website that details what you offer, how you’re different from other coaches and your pertinent experience. If you’ve already coached a few writers, ask them for testimonials you can post. Of course, you can use social media and advertising to drive traffic to your website, but don’t stop there. Chances are, you already know a few people who can benefit from having a writing coach, whether they want to write a book, a speech or better blog posts. Be proactive by reaching out to them and inviting them to check out the new coaching services you’re offering.
4. Serve, Don’t Sell
Make the first interaction with a prospective client about them, not about you. Ask them about their goals before the meeting, and review any work they’ve done so you’re familiar with their strengths and have a sense of what they need to improve. The two questions I ask every prospective client are:
– What do you want this book to do for readers?
– What do you want this book to do for you?
Without knowing the answers to these questions, I can’t communicate with them in terms of their highest values.
Rather than telling writers what you can do for them, start helping them immediately. When you meet with them, share your positive feedback and give them one example of something they can strengthen and explain how to do that. If the writer is receptive, they may ask for more examples, which you’ll want to be prepared to offer. But resist the urge to show off by pointing out a slew of issues that need to be improved. Nobody appreciates being overwhelmed.
5. Balance Support and Challenge
Writers who want to improve their craft tend to benefit from a balance of praise and constructive criticism, along with instructions and examples that show them how to improve. When a writer says they want me to be brutally honest, I tell them that I will be gently honest. There’s rarely if ever a good reason to be brutal. As Anne Lamott says in Bird by Bird: Some Instructions on Writing and Life, “You don’t always have to chop with the sword of truth, you can point with it too.”
Sincere praise feeds the writer’s soul, while thoughtful redirection provides an opportunity to stretch and flex one’s skill sets. If writers were trees, support and praise would be the sun and the rain, and challenge would be the wind. In this analogy, the coach is the solid ground. We hold a safe, stable place for the writer to grow, become strong and blossom.
Do you have a story idea? Pitch it to us below, and we’ll work to match you with a writer who can help you bring your vision to life.