Coaching. Is. HUGE.
Over the past decade, the personal development space has exploded in size, and the coaching industry has expanded with it.
There are coaches for pretty much everything. Want to master your career? Want to find a date? Want a better money mindset? There are coaches for that.
So, whether you’re starting your coaching business or working on growing it, it’s a great time to be a coach. The International Coaching Federation estimated that the coaching industry would grow to $20 billion USD in 2022 as more and more people try to find a coach to help them master something important to them.
But it's not just coaching that's growing. So are the tech solutions to help coaches grow their businesses. In the past, running a coaching business meant trying to handle the scheduling, marketing, and making sales, not to mention doing the actual coaching time. But there are now online coaching platforms that do a lot of the work for you and free you up to do that thing you do so well: coaching.
In this article, we’ll walk you through the 5 best online coaching platforms, give you the pros and cons and best use cases for each, and help you figure out which one is right for you.
If you want more support in building your online coaching community or courses, come join OUR Mighty Community for free and meet other new and established community owners! We’d love to meet you. Join for free!
In this article…
What is an online coaching platform?
An online coaching platform is a digital solution that gives you the tools you need to host your coaching business, usually tools like scheduling, sales, and video meetings. We're seeing two main types of online coaching platforms: marketplace platforms and white-label platforms.
- Marketplace platforms are places where thousands of potential clients can browse coach listings, hire a coach, and manage their relationship with them.
- White-label platforms let the coach build their own brand and audience without competing with other coaches, but you’ll need to learn how to attract clients there.
Both types of platforms have pros and cons, which we’ll talk about below.
What to look for in an online coaching platform
Ok, so there are a ton of platform options for online coaching. Which is going to be the right one for you?
The answer is... drumroll please... it depends.
BUT here are some of the main features of online coaching platforms to consider if you’re trying to choose the right one:
You gotta have clients. Otherwise, you don't have a coaching business. So, whether it's from a huge social media following, paying for ads and offering a free webinar, posting your profile on a marketplace platform, or just letting word-of-mouth do it's thing, you'll need some marketing options.
When you're looking for an online coaching platform, think about the marketing capabilities it gives you. If you have an existing client base, you might just be looking for a platform that can help you brand well and serve up a great experience. If you don’t have clients, you might need a platform that will give you marketing funnels, landing pages, or even an existing audience you can try to sell to.
When it comes the time to actually sell your service, a good online coaching platform takes care of the point of sale for you too. It should let you offer bundles, discounts, free trials, and a bunch of other goodies without having to stress about the actual selling–the money should just show up in your account! And if you live outside of the U.S., it's also nice to be able to sell in other currencies.
A lot of coaches love offering courses, either as an entire product or sometimes mixed with live sessions. Courses give you a way to scale your coaching practice and your impact, letting you record some of your best stuff and spending the rest of your one-on-one time with your clients or groups of clients actually digging into the application and transformation they’re looking for. Many online coaching platforms let you build beautiful, engaging courses.
The Mighty Networks course engine gives you the ability to build a powerful course-based business:
Speaking of groups of clients, some people choose to offer coaching in a group! Group coaching just gives you another way to scale your impact, as you can focus on serving multiple people at once. It also lets you work at different price points, especially if you have clients who might not be able to afford 1:1 coaching. Group coaching often helps these people get the support they need at less cost while letting you make more per hour of work than you might otherwise.
A good online group coaching platform should give you a way to manage your groups, letting you keep your work with each one you run separate, but still giving you a way to offer tons of value to each.
One of the things more and more coaches are LOVING is building communities around their practice. Even for people who coach 1:1, as long as there are no privacy concerns, having a community for your clients is a HUGE value add that can keep delivering benefits in between your coaching sessions.
With a community, your clients don’t just benefit from your wisdom, but they can meet people walking the same journey as them. Plus, because of the network effect, you’ll experience the magic of how the community serves each other and therefore gets more valuable.
Apps & Access
Last, but definitely not least, you want to make sure your online coaching platform has a lot of ways to serve your clients. One of the most obvious is through an app, since literally everyone has a smartphone. It’s a huge benefit for clients if they can join your sessions, take part in discussions, and even learn from the courses from the comfort of their own phones.
The 5 best online coaching platforms
1. Mighty Networks
Best all-in-one for community, group coaching, and courses
When it comes to running your own coaching business, Mighty Networks gives you pretty much everything you need to create an awesome client community. Mighty gives you powerful cultural software as a white-label community platform, that gives you the capability to do just about everything on the list above. Within individual Spaces, you can customize with things like engaging courses (both asynchronous and synchronous), messaging, discussions, and events.
Mighty also comes with a great app that gives your clients access from anywhere.
It’s also packed with a bunch of other goodies like live streaming, polls, easily-navigable forums, and the ability to create new member welcome sequences. It’s amazing for group coaching since you can build and charge for a sub-community for each group you run, schedule and run your sessions in it, and easily deliver value to your groups whether separately or combined in the main community.
It’s the perfect platform for those looking to build a community around their coaching and/or to run group coaching sessions. You can schedule events with a click, and members can get reminders and click the link to join a live meeting. And, if you want a community but also want to offer 1:1 coaching, you could easily pair it with something like Calendly to manage your 1:1 scheduling.
- The power of community
- Elegant course creation
- Dedicated Spaces you can customize and charge for
- Great event functionality for hosting group or community sessions
- An app for every device
- Charge for coaching in your home currency
- Bundle coaching, courses, etc.
- Need to use something like Google Calendars or Calendly to schedule 1:1 meetings
Best for marketing funnels
Kajabi is best known as an online course platform that lets creators build and host courses, as well as letting them create landing pages. And for coaches looking to cash in on the course boom, one of the things Kajabi does best is to provide comprehensive marketing tools and funnels to sell those courses. In some cases, if you’re an online coach looking for the right platform, these marketing systems might help you to find clients and make sales.
If your coaching business is course-based, Kajabi lets you build out modules with text, files and videos (hosted on the third-party site Wistia). And the platform includes email campaigns, welcome flows, and landing pages–complex marketing systems that are not included in most other online coaching platforms.
The downside to Kajabi for coaches is that it’s a course-focused business builder. It does have a very limited community option, but the community is really just a tag on. It doesn’t have the complexity of community features Mighty Networks has. It’s also twice as expensive as Mighty Networks.
- Solid course builder
- Complex marketing systems
- Limited community options
- Wouldn’t work for group coaching
Best coaching marketplace
If you’re looking for an online coach marketplace to list your services on that also helps you run your coaching business, Noomi is one of the most popular. It has thousands of coaches for just about any demographic or specialty.
If you want to become a coach on Noomi, you need to go through their onboarding process and follow their structure; this will include a call with them to be approved and to record a video that you will use for your profile. Once you do that, the platform will place you in the database of coaches and, if clients are interested in working with you, they can send you a message and schedule a free consultation.
The back end of Noomi is pretty limited, it’s primarily built for messaging. So you might choose to pair it with another platform if you wanted to build in things like courses or community. But it’s a good place to be listed if you want to get leads and clients.
The marketplace structure can be an advantage or a disadvantage, depending on how good you are at getting leads elsewhere. If you have an existing practice and are doing well, it probably doesn’t make sense to pay to get listed on Noomi–especially since you need to actually attract attention in a sea of other coaches. That’s not easy. But if you’re just starting out, listing on Noomi might be a good option.
- An existing marketing system with people searching for coaches
- Qualified leads can find you
- Need to stand out in a sea of coaches
- Tons of competition
- You need to be approved and follow their rules
- Limited options for actually building out your business or scaling
Best for 1:1 coaches
Satori is a scheduling solution made for coaches, and it automates a lot of processes that 1:1 coaches need to go through. Initially designed for yoga instructors, it gives you an administrative system for managing your coaching business. It lets you automate onboarding features like setting up programs for purchase, scheduling 1:1 or group sessions, and managing invoices.
Satori is built around your calendar, and clients can use it to schedule sessions with you. You can also add forms for them to fill out before you meet.
While it’s great on the admin side, Satori lacks some of the features you might look for in an online coaching platform. For example, it doesn’t let you create courses. It also doesn’t have an app to serve your clients, which is a bit tricky since the majority of internet users are mobile.
- Calendar interface and easy scheduling
- Automated forms and on-boarding
- Package sales and invoice features
- No community option
- No course functionality
- No app
Best WordPress plug-in for coaches
The final platform we’ll mention here is Thinkific. It’s another possible platform for coaches to build and sell courses. If you’re a coach who has an existing website on WordPress and you’re looking for functionality to add a plugin to run your courses on, Thinkific gives you this option. It gives instructors the ability to customize the course design with a drag and drop course builder and comes with some options for marketing courses, including selling through affiliates. It integrates with PayPal and Stripe as payment gateways and lets you sell in 100 currencies.
Thinkific has its limits. It’s good for courses but doesn’t really have any capacity to create events or groups. Even the community functions are extremely limited. So, if you’re looking for robust options beyond basic WordPress functionality, you’d probably want to choose something else on this list.
- Build a course, landing pages, and some marketing features
- Connects with WordPress
- Limited community functions
- No event functions
- No scheduling functions
Whether you’re an experienced coach or just getting started, these online coaching platforms have something for each coach and their needs. And since you’re here anyway, why not try Mighty Networks for free? It’s an engine you can use to build an amazing coaching business and community.