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What is Coaching Really Worth?

Part Four of the High Cost of Coaching Series by Andrea Leda. Check out Part One, Two, and Three.

My inspiration for writing this series was sparked by how many of my community members shared with me the same questions that have plagued me about this very topic:

  • What is coaching really worth? 
  • How do I support myself and make coaching accessible for more people? 
  • Why is there no concern about how we price coaching? 
  • If I don’t charge more, do I not believe in my worth as a coach?

When I first started working with clients in 2012, I charged $45/hour—and I was shocked when someone was willing to pay me this. Mind you, I had never made more than minimum wage before that point. 

But it wasn’t just the new hourly rate that made me uncomfortable, it was the fact that I was merely months out of my coach training and had only worked with a handful of people in a supervised setting. 

When we’re new, shouldn’t we be mindful that our prices don’t outweigh our skills? When, and how, should we evolve our pricing structure? 

There is an assumed value for helping services, which seems to range from $75 to $250 per session. In part, this is informed by therapists who must adhere to strict guidelines set by the state where they are licensed. But when I Google, “What can you charge for life coaching?” the first page of results is not articles set forth by governing bodies such as the International Coach Federation but rather private sites built by business coaches selling services to coaches. This invites two questions:

  1. Who is informing the value of coaching?
  2. What is the value of coaching based on?

Articles like this one from Paperbell are the norm when seeking guidance around this topic. The article makes a clear argument for using our personal needs as the basis for your pricing structure, which I have also advocated for in the past. But it also goes on to make some problematic suggestions about underpricing:

“…You may be tempted to undercut the competition, but are your cheap services cheapening your offering? It’s true – charging more can be scary. Ask yourself honestly: are you pricing out of the fear that people won’t be willing to give you that much money? Or are you making assumptions around how much they can afford to pay? Always challenge the narrative you’re telling yourself. Remember – people often take you seriously when they’re required to invest more.”

The article wraps with an email opt-in for a free undercharging report, once again pointing out that, while we are technically free to determine our pricing structure, it’s unwise to dip too low. The article implies that, by pricing too low, coaches risk moving into “unworthy” territory and that, if clients want our services bad enough, they will pay whatever price we “are worth.” 

For more on the topic of worth and pricing read part three of this series.

This is the same advice I’ve been seeing since I first started coaching over 10 years ago. And this makes me wonder: Have we innovated our approach to pricing enough?

The ICF claims that the coaching industry generates more than $2.8 billion a year globally, with $1.4 billion of that being generated within the U.S. alone. Coaching is also now the “fastest growing industry next to tech,” according to the ICF’s global coaching study. 

But at what cost?

The faster the industry grows, the more room it seems to leave for low accountability, questionable pricing practices, and a lack of professionalism. Great coaches are being overlooked for coaches with bold tag lines and even bolder sales tactics. 

People are starting to notice.

Today, the coaching industry is rife with pyramid schemes, manipulative sales funnels, and the pervasive use of high-pressure sales tactics. And, despite the alluring promises of healing and transformation presented in meticulously crafted sales pages, we have witnessed a 20% increase in adult antidepressant use since 2020 and a significant uptick in the use of therapy. 

This raises a poignant question: How can we, as coaches, better contribute to collective well-being?

While the reasons people seek support are multifold, the data above suggests a troubling trend that I believe we, as coaches, ought to be doing much more to help alleviate. 

What if we have our finger on a dynamic tool and are edging ourselves out of helping spaces because we lack a clear consensus on the value of coaching?

With all the brilliantly presented solutions inside impeccably crafted sales letters and funnels, we might assume that purchasing our way to happiness should be a straightforward endeavor. But, in fact, it’s anything but simple. 

In truth, transformation defies commodification—it cannot be neatly packaged and sold on a website or hinted at through cleverly colorful sales pages. True transformation is not adorned with idyllic images of people prancing through fields accompanied by neatly scripted quotes like, “Life is not about waiting for the storm to pass. It’s about learning to find joy and dance in the rain.” We’ve veered off course and lost sight of the essence. This work is gritty. No cute meme can ease the reality of seeking or living in alignment with your True Self. 

As Rich Roll pointed out in a podcast episode once, striving to separate truth from falsehood often leads to imperfect outcomes, which can cause anxiety. 

In response, we may intensify our efforts at self-improvement, only to find that our commendable pursuit of growth can unexpectedly transform into an unhealthy obsession. He likened this to a spiritual form of an eating disorder that slowly consumes our inner peace.

Transformation has become the contemporary equivalent of going organic. Rather than excessively indulging in kale smoothies and paleo diets, we’re macro-dosing on self-improvement. 

Seeking support has expanded far beyond the conventional notion of consulting a “shrink”. It now spans a diverse array of methods, including coaching, energy healing, astrology, personality tests, oracle cards, past-life regression, the commodification of sage, and, for some, a frantic thirst for books that would suggest they were on the verge of disappearing.

I’ve explored each avenue listed above, and I appreciate the underlying intention and endorse the pursuit of self-awareness, growth, and a quest for something more profound. The desired shift is palpable—from merely trying to function to an earnest desire to thrive. Yet, many questions still persist. 

Self-development being trendy is great for business, but is it great for humanity? 

And how do we assess the true value of this work? 

Do we default to step-making, high-priced programs, and scripted sales pages because, if we didn’t bedazzle the difficult stuff, no one would consume it? 

Would we really take the raw action required to practice things like compassion, self-love, forgiveness, and joy? 

Would we willingly trek through our roots and untangle habits, generational wounds, stories, and strategies that are actually harming us? 

I don’t know. 

In the coaching field, it’s all too easy to omit the difficulty, and therefore undercut the purpose, from these practices. But because of this, we are all drowning in shallow waters. There’s nothing truly shallow about this deep work, so how can we ensure that we’re not merely skimming the surface and that, instead, we’re actually delving into the profound depths of genuine self-work?

These questions invite us to reevaluate the nature, value, and authenticity of the transformative journey that so many of us genuinely want to embark on. 

As coaches, we now have a profound opportunity to reimagine not only the presentation of our work but also the way individuals access the essential services we offer. 

This moment calls for a thoughtful reconsideration, and urges us to create a coaching landscape that is not just commercially appealing but deeply rooted in authenticity and meaningful impact.

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Andrea Leda - Brave Coach - Guest Author
Andrea Leda

Andrea Leda is a sought-after master coach, teacher, and mentor with over 10,000 hours of coaching experience since she began her practice in 2010. She is dedicated to helping each of us learn to trust our own innate value and worthiness so that we can show up for the work we’re truly here to do.

By harnessing her deep and practical knowledge of powerful coaching techniques—including NLP, journal therapy, mental emotional release work, and BodyMAP coaching—Andrea supports heart-centered coaches and visionary change-makers in reaching their fullest potential in both life and business. In her coaching work, she has been called "a force to be reckoned with and a brave woman who truly makes this world go round.”

In 2022, Andrea founded Braver Coach—a mission, a community, and an educational platform for coaches who are reimagining coaching by bringing forth all of who they are. As a certified training organization through the Association of Coaching, Andrea equips coaches so that they feel empowered to do the work they are called to do—and help their clients and communities do the same.

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