Business & Careers

Online Coaches: The Truth About Why You Struggle to Attract Ideal Clients

BY Virginia De Assis

overhead of hands typing on laptop

“Being an online coach is easy!” – they said. “You only have to work a couple of hours per day. Post to Instagram and people will come knocking at your door!” – they said. 

So you started consuming books, blog posts, and podcasts. You put together a program, set up an IG account, and started posting, liking, commenting, and DMing your audience…

… just to hear crickets.

No one likes your posts, people ghost you on DM, and you’re struggling to attract clients and pay your bills. You wonder: Is it the algorithm? Are all clients taken already? Am I jinxed? How can I get more clients???

Thankfully, you’re not jinxed and the algorithm doesn’t hate you. But instead of wondering “how can I get more clients” it makes a lot of sense to ask “why don't I attract any clients right now?”. Reframing the question puts you into research mode. This will help you uncover hidden problems that keep you stuck and struggling. 

And after 7+ years in business and writing social media content for 7-figure online coaches from all kinds of niches, I can tell you with certainty that a lack of clients is usually caused by one or multiple of the following five problems. 

In this post I’m going to uncover them and offer you simple solutions that you can implement right away to see results:

Problem #1: You don’t know who you’re talking to.

Most new online coaches diligently did their market research, just to shove their client avatar sheets into the next drawer where they’ve collected dust ever since.

But it doesn’t work like that. You’ve got to use your findings to continuously improve your knowledge about your target audience and become the very best solution when it comes to answering their most burning questions. The more specific you can be, the easier it will be to attract clients.

“Anyone with a credit card” is not a clear client profile and it’s not going to help you create a program that solves your perfect clients’ EXACT problems, craft a message that makes them feel like you’ve read their mind, and ultimately allow you to charge your worth. But only if you can make your audience feel understood you’ll be able to convert them into clients. 

SOLUTION: The first step to attracting clients as an online coach (and for any business) is to know exactly who they are, what they want in life, and what keeps them up at night. It’s your SET UP and you can figure it out exactly by asking the following questions:

  1. What’s your market/industry? (e.g. health, mindset, business, marketing etc…)
  2. Which group of people do you want to work with and what do they have in common? (e.g. moms, they’re always starved for time, busy, and juggling multiple obligations at once)
  3. What’s their biggest problem with regards to their [insert your market]
  4. Where do they want most in life?  (the transformation which becomes your offer)
  5. What keeps them stuck or not making progress? (objections, limiting beliefs etc.)

Problem #2: The transformation you offer is unclear.

If I had a dollar every time I see an I help statement that made me think “wait, what?! I don’t get it…” then I’d never have to work another day.

No one, I repeat, absolutely no one, thinks to themselves “I’ve got to unleash my inner goddess” or “I want my numbers to be fun and colorful” – both of which are literally wordings from actual bio statements I’ve read on Instagram.

What people do think is “I’d like to lose 10lbs before bikini season starts”, or “Help! I hate accounting, someone show me how to do this please!”.

You need to jump into your perfect clients' inner monologue and use their exact words to describe the problems they face. That way it’s easy for them to see themselves in your story and recognize the value of your offer. 

SOLUTION: If you want your audience to recognize your value and actually “get it” right away, you’ve got to be crystal clear on the transformation you're selling. To do that, it’s time to whip out the answers to the questions in the last section and create what I’ve dubbed your “money message”. It summarizes whom you help and what’s the big transformation that you offer in just one clear sentence.

When you define your money message it’s important that you use your clients’ words to describe the problem and solution. That way you help your perfect clients see themselves and go “That’s what I need!” as soon as they read it.

Problem #3: Your content is valuable but doesn’t sell.

I’m sure you’ve been told to provide value in your content. It’s the most common advice because value is cute, it grows your audience, and it’s better than a caption that reads: #vibes.

⁣⁣BUT the problem with content that’s “only VALUABLE” is that it’s only going to attract freebie seekers. They’re the kind of people who go for multiple swag bags at a convention and get excited about free candy and ballpoint pens in the hotel lobby.

So as you wreck your brain about what valuable thing you could write under your photo, you’ve got to make sure you don’t become the free swag bag of IG’s coaching block party.

SOLUTION: Recognize that your content is actually SALES COLLATERAL and the main goal is to show your audience the gap between where they are and where they want to be. SELLABLE content helps reframe your audience’s beliefs, opens their eyes to the opportunity of a better life (after working with you), and handles their objections before you even get on the call with them. 

It also motivates your audience to take action and gives them the confidence they need to invest and join your program. So next time you post to IG, don’t write “Time for Treats” or “Why I love coaching” ⁣

Craft a message that’s personal, that talks about your audience’s pain point, and shows them the opportunity of reaching their goals by taking your program or course. ⁣

Problem #4: You don’t catch your audience’s attention. 

I’m sure you’ve heard about the Instagram “scroll hole”. You only wanted to check your stats but before you know it you’ve spent 1hr scrolling through your feed. Instagram is really good about capturing your attention and keeping you busy with funny, inspiring, or educative content. And your clients are just the same: as online coaches, you’re competing with funny memes, cute kittens, and viral videos at all times. This means you’ve got to work extra hard to EARN your audience’s attention and get your message heard and seen.

SOLUTION: And the easiest way to get heard and seen online is to rely on what I call the “SIBA framework” to catch your audience’s attention:

First, you’ve got to write what I call  “Scroll Stopper Headlines”. The title of your post (or the subject line of your e-mail) has to be so intriguing that your audience can’t help it but click on “Read more”. 

Then, in your intrigue you’ve got a few sentences to draw them into your story. Your audience hasn’t committed yet to reading the full post, they’ve only dipped their toes in the water. If you don’t draw them all the way in, they’re simply going to turn around and keep scrolling.

The main part, the so-called body, focuses on bringing your point across. You could target a limiting belief and reframe it. You could handle an objection or yes, teach them part of your process. But remember, value is only a small portion of content. Addressing their beliefs, mindset, and objections are equally as important to make it sellable.

Last but not least, good content should call the reader to take action. That’s why you can end your post with one simple call to action: Comment, like, subscribe, sign up, apply…

Problem #5: You show up as a friend, not as a leader.

In every story there’s the hero and then there’s the guide. Think Harry Potter and Dumbledore. Luke Skywalker and Yoda. Or Katniss and Haymitch (the drunk guy who shows her how to survive the Hunger Games).

In your story, your audience is the hero looking for help and you’re their guide. You've got to let them know that you have the answers to their questions and can lead them to success. This means that you must focus on their struggles, opportunities, strategies, and story at all times. 

SOLUTION: Stop showing up as your audience’s best friend. It doesn’t matter what you had for lunch, what’s happening in your life, or why you became a coach. As an online coach, you are a leader. And as a leader, all of your content needs to be created with the intention of “what does my audience need to hear from me today to get one step ahead in the journey”. 

That is how you’ll give them the certainty and confidence to overcome their fears and get them one step closer to reaching their goals. 

What to do now?

I hope this post helped you step back and take a critical look at your business and marketing. Be honest with yourself, which of these reasons applied to you? Since they all build on each other it might be all of them for what I know. 

The solutions I showed you are used by all the 7-figure online coaches for whom I write content as a service. But really, they're being applied all across the industry and by most of the biggest online coaches out there. 

But that doesn’t mean they only work for the “big names”. When I first launched my own coaching program, it only took me 7 days and 4 posts to sign my first client. That’s how powerful this method can be if applied correctly.  

That’s why you’ve got to make it your top priority to learn everything about your perfect clients, what they want, what they dread, and what they’re actually thinking. Pick up the phone, talk to them, and record their exact answers. 

Then address one of their beliefs, mindsets, or objections using the SIBA structure. And as you write, remember that you’re coming from a place of authority and leadership. This will help you produce persuasive and sellable content.

And if you’re still unsure about how to write really good content that attracts clients, you can always pop by my IG account. I share tons of copywriting hacks, content frameworks, and other helpful tips to help you attract clients organically and with ease.  


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