coaching subscription model — the why behind my new 1:1 coaching service

Why I switched from start-and-finish coaching containers to a month-to-month no-obligation coaching subscription model

This month I made a big change in my business… I switched from start-and-finish coaching containers (e.g. 6 months or 12 months at a time, always with the option for renewal), to a month-to-month, no-obligation, ongoing (stay forever or pause/cancel at any time without penalties) coaching subscription model.

In this blog post, let’s break down why I started out with coaching packages and the types I’ve offered over the years, the problem with start-and-finish coaching containers, observations I’ve made about coaching over the years, and the reason why I’ve made this new shift into a month-to-month no-obligation ongoing coaching subscription for my clients…

As a Success and Life Coach who specializes in personal fulfillment coaching (AKA helping you to live the life you dream about and be the best version of yourself) and solopreneur success coaching (AKA helping you accomplish your goals and achieve success on your own terms with a lifestyle-and-personal-values-first business model), I’ve worked with a wide variety of clients in different capacities over the years.

It’s been interesting to experiment with the type of coaching packages that are the best fit for both me and my clients — especially given the range of wants and needs among my different clients.

LEARN MORE about my coaching services: 

NOTE #1: My coaching style often incorporates a hybrid of mentorship, consulting, and teaching.

I have a background as an anti-hustle Productivity Strategist, so some of my business coaching clients are looking for a lot more of the strategy/mentorship/consulting side of things rather than coaching. 

In other instances — for example, with personal fulfillment coaching — we do a lot more of true coaching (minimal mentorship/consulting) with a focus on mindset. It completely depends on the client, our relationship, their wants/needs (overall and from one session to the next), etc, and we co-create our experience together so they get what they need.

Anyway, just wanted to mention that! Even though my coaching sessions may include consulting, mentoring, and teaching, I’m going to use the catchall word “coaching” for our purposes in this blog post.

Note #2: Currently I specifically offer 1:1 coaching services.

I LOVE working with clients in a 1:1 capacity (just me and you), rather than in a group setting. When I'm talking about a coaching subscription model, I'm NOT talking about it in terms of a coaching membership program.

Here's the difference: 

  • Coaching subscription (what I DO offer): 1:1 coaching sessions where you get my full attention for the entire session — no one else sees what's happening on our calls, and you don't see any of my other clients getting coached, either.
  • Coaching membership (what I DON'T offer): group program where you get coached in a group setting — other members see you getting coached and you see other people getting coached.

(Of course, this could change in the future! But as of right now, I offer 1:1 coaching services using a subscription model)

For our purposes in this blog post, I'm talking about all coaching services (past and present) in the capacity of 1:1 settings.

Why I used to do start-and-finish coaching containers

The short answer for “Why did you used to offer start-and-finish coaching containers?” is that it provided a very specific timeframe for us to work together in the coach/client relationship. 

It gave me and my clients concrete parameters to work within: If we knew what goals we had set together, then we also had a timeframe with which we could work within. My clients didn’t need to wonder, “How long will this go on for?” or “Is my coach just going to draw out these sessions for as long as possible?”, etc. 

Start-and-finish coaching packages seemed like an elegant solution to ensure that both my clients and I knew what to expect from the experience. 

Types of coaching packages I’ve offered over the years

I’ve offered a WIDE range of different coaching packages, including but not limited to…

  • 6 - 12 weeks of unlimited email-based coaching (with option of occasional video calls).
    • This works well for clients who want support and accountability and have lots of questions from a strategy perspective, BUT it can be really challenging for clients who need a lot of help with their mindset or who are motivated by hard deadlines (e.g. those people who would write their essay the evening before it’s due in university).
    • It takes a lot more time for me, as the coach, to respond to all emails (rather than an hour-long coaching session, for example). It also doesn’t give me a lot of flexibility in my day, because I never know how much a client might reach out and what they might need from me, one day to the next — which makes it trickier to plan other tasks and activities.
  • Single coaching sessions.
    • This works well for clients who have one specific issue they’re trying to work through or who need help from a strategy perspective, BUT it typically also reveals that there’s much more we can get into beyond a single session.
    • One of my absolute favourite things is to build relationships with my clients and truly get to know them at a deep level — and unfortunately, this is difficult to do with just one session. We don’t yet have the established relationship and rapport that can elevate the coaching experience.
  • 1 call/month OR 2 calls/month, for 3 months or 6 months.
    • Most of the time, 2 calls/month is best for new clients so we can make more progress, faster, and escalate our relationship. Doing 1 call/month can be challenging when we’re just getting to know each other because a month is a long time! Lots can happen in there. Doing 2 calls/month helps us to identify any obstacles that might get in the way of your success and work through those before they get too big.
    • 6 months goes by pretty quick — 3 months goes by VERY fast! The shorter 3-month option is nice for clients who are apprehensive about committing to 6 months, but unless the client has a short-term or very specific thing they want to work on, it’s typically not quite long enough (in my opinion) to ensure new habits will stick or that we’ve uncovered all the barriers they’re experiencing.
  • 2 calls/month for 6 months with unlimited access to me in between sessions for additional pep talks and email coaching.
    • This works best in my Solopreneur CEO program, because it’s a very specific program for solopreneurs with a dedicated curriculum. This also works well for clients who are having a lot of mindset stuff coming up and need extra support.
  • Day of Voxer” (24 hours of email and/or voice/text messaging coaching).
    • This works best when clients are working on a specific (often “intensive”) project and want support and accountability in their corner, and/or clients who are going through a big life change and need someone to ground them (e.g. first day of being full-time in their new business or having uncomfortable conversations with people in their personal life, etc).
    • This is more challenging to do with clients who I do NOT have an established relationship with — it’s much better if I already know them and their personality and how their brain works, because then I can give them very personalized support.
  • 12 months of coaching.
    • This has been a renewal option that clients who had already booked with me for 6 months at a time previously really love. We’d keep on scheduling for another 6 months at a time (and the time FLIES by!), so it made sense to extend it to a full year.

What does all of that have in common? They are start-and-finish coaching packages! 

In most of these instances, my clients have had the option to renew for longer periods of time. 

The problem with start-and-finish coaching packages

Here are some of the problems I’ve noticed with start-and-finish coaching packages: 

  1. Many potential clients feel uncomfortable with the idea of committing to a coaching package (“What if it doesn’t work?”). As such, start-and-finish coaching packages can actually end up being a BARRIER for them to get the coaching they want and need! 
  2. Single sessions or short-term coaching packages could theoretically deal with the above issue, but I never want to feel as though I’m “performing” for a client so that they’ll want to book more sessions. I don’t really like the idea of a “test-drive” because I want our coaching sessions to be about the COACHING experience — not about trying to make a sale into longer-term coaching packages. I have no interest in trying to convince someone to keep working with me, and if someone signs up for short-term coaching so as to “test the waters,” it feels like there’s a sort of underlying pressure that I need to “prove” my coaching abilities to that client. In my experience, this completely takes away from the coaching itself.
  3. We need to have a “Do you want to renew?” conversation toward the end of each package. To me, this feels as though it disrupts the experience because we’re constantly trying to figure out, “If we do renew, then what we should work on right now is XYZ; if we don’t renew, then what we should work on is ABC.” I always want my clients to walk away from our coaching experience feeling in a really good place, so I wouldn’t want to dive into something brand-new in the last 15 minutes of our final session together, for example, and then leave them hanging to deal with it on their own. I’d rather take the time in our final session to make a plan of action for them moving forward on their own.

why I'm offering a coaching subscription service - new coaching subscription model as a life coach and business coach specializing in personal fulfillment and solopreneur success

A few observations about coaching from over the years…

My clients get incredible results when we work together! Here are a few observations I’ve made over the years…

  • Although my clients report deep satisfaction after just one coaching session (and they are consistently delighted with each individual session’s experience), the vast majority of clients get the BEST results (especially in terms of their breakthroughs and long-lasting, sustainable changes) with a minimum of 6 - 12 coaching sessions. 
  • I really enjoy being able to be along for the long-term journey with my clients. To me, three months is far too short of a time: Even though my clients and I are delighted with their progress, I can see so much more that we can accomplish together! In many ways, it feels as though we’ve barely scratched the surface — in other words, I don’t feel as satisfied and fulfilled with us only working together for a limited time (because I know there’s so much more we can do together). Six months gives us a better opportunity to really connect and get to know one another. 
  • When I’ve been working with the same client for a year or more, it’s absolutely incredible to see the SPEED at which they experience breakthroughs and we get results. Why? Because I KNOW them at a much deeper level, and we’ve built a strong relationship based on trust. When my client comes to me with an issue, I can connect the dots between where they are *now* and where they’ve been in the past; there’s a lot more nuance and depth to our relationship and the coaching we are able to do because we have such a strong foundation.
  • Coaching uncovers many layers of other things going on beneath the surface — and for the vast majority of clients, patterns crop up again in various ways. Something a client thought they’d dealt with might reappear months later in a new aspect of their life. When we work together for a longer period of time, we can identify immediately when that happens and work through it together, BEFORE it becomes a larger issue.

An important aspect of what I do with my clients is to teach them intrapersonal skills and how to do self coaching practices. This way, they can feel very supported in between our sessions and they can begin to work through things independently. 

I don’t want my clients to feel as though they *need* me: I want my clients to continue working with me because they *want* to do so, and because — even though they CAN work through things on their own, and even though they DO work through some things on their own — they know that we can work through things even faster, TOGETHER. 

My clients renew their sessions with me not because they are terrified of doing the work on their own, but because they love the experience they get with me, they feel fully supported and encouraged by having me in their corner, and they know that I can always guide them in new ways through their journey of personal fulfillment, growth and development, self improvement, and a better relationship with themselves.

Why I decided to switch to a simplified, month-to-month, no-obligation, ongoing coaching subscription service

There are several reasons why I decided to forgo my start-and-finish coaching packages (with the exception of Solopreneur CEO, which requires a minimum of 6 months given that it has a particular framework and curriculum)...

  1. My coaching packages were starting to get complicated. I found that I was trying to offer something for everyone: 1 call/month vs 2 calls/month, single session vs 3 months vs 6 months vs 1 year, coaching calls vs email-based coaching, coaching calls with access between sessions vs coaching calls without additional access, etc. There were too many options available! It was making it harder for potential clients to have any idea which coaching package was the right fit for them.
  2. I wanted to streamline the coaching experience. When my clients are subscribed to ongoing coaching, it means that we never need to have conversations about “Do you want to renew?” Instead, we just continue on for as long or as frequent as feels good for both of us. Simple and easy.
  3. It provides a very safe, super low-risk and low-pressure environment for my clients. They can pause their subscription if they’d like to take a break at any time; they can cancel it entirely if they decide they no longer wish to continue, without any penalties. They can also do this without coming to me and saying that they want to “break” a contract — they can simply go into the coaching platform and press the “cancel” button (and this is REALLY good for my clients who might be people pleasers or have anxiety, because — even though I will always understand if they want to pause/cancel for any reason — they don’t need to “worry” about having a potentially uncomfortable conversation).
  4. It puts the emphasis on the COACHING itself. Think about it: If I do a poor job of coaching a client in even one session, that client will very likely decide to pause or cancel their subscription. They are not locked into working with me for any period of time. This means that my clients KNOW that I am committed to a standard of excellence every single time we meet.
  5. A client can “test-drive” their coaching experience without me “knowing” that they are test-driving it. Basically, if someone signs up for my coaching subscription service, I am going into every session without any assumption or preconceived notion around how long we’ll be working together. It removes any “pressure to perform” or “convincing” energy from the equation — which, again, puts the emphasis on the coaching experience itself rather than any questions about renewal.

What about projecting business income/expenses?

Of course, a benefit to a start-and-finish coaching package — for both the coach and the client — is that you can budget accordingly and project into the future when payments will be processed. And when you are a business owner, you should absolutely think about those types of things (yes, even in a helping profession such as coaching).

But here’s the thing: If any of my clients came to me in the middle of a start-and-finish coaching package and said, “XYZ has unexpectedly come up and I no longer have the budget to work together,” there’s NO WAY that I would “force” them to continue paying for a service that hasn’t occurred yet.

(For example: If the client was doing a monthly payment plan for 6 months of coaching, and they had paid for and received their first 3 months of coaching before having financial difficulties.)

In that case, even though I’d “projected” an additional 3 months of payments coming in, I would then be removing those payments from my financial projections. 

As a result of that… There actually isn’t any “financial security” in having start-and-finish coaching packages. That income from those payment plans isn’t guaranteed. It’s a false sense of security.

As I mentioned earlier in this blog post, the new ongoing no-obligation month-to-month coaching subscription service truly elevates the expectations and standard of coaching excellence, and I believe that it will actually be even more financially secure than a start-and-finish coaching package. Why? Because a) clients are so deeply satisfied that keeping their subscription is a no-brainer, and b) if they needed to pause/cancel their subscription due to financial difficulties, they are still so deeply satisfied that they refer other people to me. 

Boundaries with client payment processing

An important boundary here is that I do not do any coaching sessions unless the client has already paid for it. For example, when a client signs up for the ongoing subscription model (in which case we both know they can pause/cancel at any time), we’ll likely schedule their sessions into the calendar for the next 2 - 4 months… but they must pay for each session BEFORE it happens. 

E.g. If their credit card expires before their next payment, they need to update their credit card information before our next session. If they haven’t paid yet, then we’ll reschedule the call so it happens at a later date. There are no exceptions to this rule. 

Having this boundary in place protects the relationship between me and my clients: If they were to get their coaching session before they paid for it, and then they have financial difficulties and CAN’T pay for it, it might create unnecessary friction between us. I don’t want to chase my clients to pay me, and I don’t want them to feel bad about it. The very simple solution to that potential rift is that they must pay for the session before it happens. 

Types of coaching I offer…

  1. Personal Fulfillment Coaching. I am an internationally-board certified Success and Life Coach, and I specialize in helping you to live the life you dream about and be the best version of yourself. 
  2. Solopreneur Success Coaching. I have 12+ years experience in business, and I specialize in helping you accomplish your goals and achieve success on your own terms, using a lifestyle-and-personal-values-first business model.

Not sure which one you should do? Basically, if you are a solo business owner, then sign up for Solopreneur Success Coaching; if you are NOT a business owner, choose Personal Fulfillment Coaching. It’s as simple as that! And frankly, it doesn’t matter which one you choose — if you sign up for Personal Fulfillment Coaching but end up wanting more business support, then we’ll simply adapt to that in our coaching sessions. 

The price and the coaching options are the exact same for both Personal Fulfillment Coaching and Solopreneur Success Coaching. 

In either capacity, we build your intrapersonal skills (including self leadership, self honesty, and self trust), improve your communication and boundaries (with yourself and others), and integrate the deep inner mindset work with the practical, actionable strategies. And all of it is fully customized to your unique wants and needs.

The 2 options with my new ongoing coaching subscription service…

With both Personal Fulfillment Coaching AND Solopreneur Success Coaching, I am currently offering 2 options with my ongoing coaching subscription service: 1 call/month or 2 calls/month. Typically I do 2 weeks of coaching calls each month with a week off in between — it gives my clients the opportunity to integrate what we worked on in the coaching session and helps them to flex their self-coaching muscle.

So: How do you make the choice between those coaching options? Should you choose 1 call/month or 2 calls/month?

Typically I recommend that the vast majority of people will benefit from 2 calls/month for the first 3 - 6 months, and then you may feel comfortable switching to 1 call/month — but it is entirely dependent on you (e.g. some of my clients do 2 calls/month for years). There’s no right or wrong way to go about it! 

I want to reiterate that most clients get their best results from a MINIMUM of 6 sessions together. This means that if you’d like faster results, then doing 2 calls/month likely means you’ll make the same amount of progress in half the time (3 months rather than 6 months). So that’s certainly something to take into consideration.

Feel free to email hello[at]saganmorrow[dot]com to share with me a bit more about your specific situation and any struggles you’re facing or goals you want to achieve, and I can recommend to you whether 1 or 2 calls/month will be the best fit.

(And as always, I’m happy to design a customized service if you have something different in mind!)