How to become a freelance coach

Article image 01.jpg


A wide variety of coaches and trainers are self-employed across health and fitness, general life coaching and other specialist areas. But our look at how to become a freelance coach will focus on a career helping other people working  for themselves. And helping them develop careers or businesses with their professional lives or related areas.

But the advice can help self-employed coaches in other disciplines, so it’s worth taking a look at if you’re a business coach, or help with specialisms including marketing, social media, SEO and more.

  • What does a freelance coach do?
  • What skills or qualifications do you need?
  • How much can you earn as a freelance coach?
  • Are there legal or insurance requirements for freelance coaching?
  • More resources and support for freelance coaches

What does a freelance coach do?

In this context, a freelance coach will offer help and support to freelancers and the self-employed in setting up and developing their business.

This can be in one-to-one sessions delivered in-person or virtually, or by supplying courses and material. And the topics can be both strategic and tactical, covering subjects such as how to set up a freelancing business, finding clients, marketing yourself, and growing your career in the future.

So, the advice may cover the legal and financial side of self-employment, attracting new clients through email marketing, SEO or social media, or developing the best method of working to be productive and keep your schedule under control. You’ll find that many coaches choose to specialise in particular areas as becoming an expert in every area would be difficult, if not impossible.

If you’ve ever tried finding coaches or mentors if you’re self-employed, you’ll know there’s often some confusion between the two terms. But mentoring will tend to be experience-based, whereas coaches will offer professional advice and formal assessments.

You may have offered informal advice to friends, or volunteered to mentor people in the past. But it’s important to realise that if you’re offering a paid coaching service, it will involve more structure and accountability to your clients. Anyone hiring you will expect to see the impact on their careers and lives, with some measures of their progress and success.

What skills or qualifications do you need to be a freelance coach?

There are no formal qualifications required to set yourself up as a freelance coach. But experience, training and education will help you to deliver a better service, help reassure potential clients, and help you stand out from other coaches.

For general coaching courses and qualifications, there are organisations which provide accreditation, such as the (IFC), the European Mentoring and Coaching Council (EMCC) or the Association for Coaching (AC). To become certified by them can require many hours of both training and documented coaching experience.

If you’re concentrating on a specific freelance discipline, then industry and specialist qualifications will be highly relevant, along with suitable experience.

Obviously, many coaches offer training and academies to others, so it’s important to check the credentials and experience of anyone offering courses before making a potentially big investment in them.

Some coaches will come from a formal background in areas such as counsellor or therapist. These require training to become a registered member of the appropriate authority such as the British Association for Counselling and Psychotherapy. Your courses can take three to five years for diploma or degree level qualifications. So, it’s likely you might have already embarked on a career in counselling or therapy before deciding to move into coaching or add it to the services you offer.

You may want to build your experience by providing free coaching to friends or contacts, but it’s important to approach these arrangements just as you would for a paying client. The difference between giving informal, unstructured advice and offering a structured coaching programme will be different for you as the coach as much as it will be for the people you’re trying to help.

How much can you earn as a freelance coach?

Your income will always depend on supply and demand, and your typical clients. If you’re specialising in coaching self-employed CEOs of potentially massive start-ups or established businesses, your rates are likely to be much higher than helping out small freelancers in the early stages of their career.

It will also depend on the solutions and services you offer. If you’re starting out as a freelance coach, you may be able to charge between £40-£60 per hour, but increase that to £100-£200 with experience. The typical annual salary for a career coach would be around £26,870 (Glassdoor) or £24,327 (Indeed), with Payscalereporting the average base salary for a job coach at £25,581.

But offering books or tailored courses can mean revenue streams which aren’t dependent on your time and hourly rates. Online courses can charge anything between £100 and many thousands of pounds depending on whether people are willing to pay for the information and expertise on offer.

Legal and insurance requirements for freelance coaching

Beyond the tax and legal obligations of setting up as a sole trader, partnership or limited company, there are no specific requirements in general for freelance coaches.

Obviously rules on client confidentiality and data protection will apply, including the UK General Data Protection Regulation (UK GDPR). And if you might be working with younger clients, it may be worth going through a Disclosure and Barring Service (DBS) check.

It’s also important to ensure that you’re insured against any potentially costly issues which may crop up. The most common option for freelance coaches will be Professional Indemnity insurance (Also known as Professional Liability), which will cover you if a client takes legal action against you for a financial loss due to an alleged mistake or negligence on your part. The IPSE website includes advice on the various types on insurance that any freelancer or self-employed professional may need.

More resources and support for freelance coaches:


Researching other freelance careers? Why not check out our other guides: