What If I Don't Know What My Coaching Niche Is?
Struggling to land on a coaching specialty? Here's five strategies to help sort it out, along with a primer on the wellness industry & current coaching trends.
Originally published in 2019, this blog has been revised and expanded to include new tips, tools, and resource guides.
Help! I Don't Know How To Choose A Coaching Niche!
If you’ve decided to become a life coach, you've likely heard the suggestion that you ought to choose a specialty within the field of coaching. In the coaching industry, this is often referred to as your "niche." Simply put, it is the area where you’ll be focusing your work as a coach.
So how do you pick one?
Coaching niches cover a wide range of interests and needs. Some common areas of specialization include:
- Career coaching
- Divorce recovery coaching
- Health and fitness coaching
- Leadership and executive coaching
- Women's empowerment coaching
- Productivity coaching
- Creativity coaching
- Life purpose coaching
It's OK if you aren't sure where you want to focus right now. For many coaches, this happens in stages and becomes increasingly clear over time.
As you're getting started, here's five tips to help you navigate the process of choosing a coaching niche.
Make a list of what excites you
Rather than focusing on what other life coaches or doing, or studying what's "hot" in the coaching industry right now, think about what lights YOU up.
What fills your heart with joy?
- Is it helping people improve their confidence and self esteem?
- Working with entrepreneurs and small businesses?
- Supporting single moms who want to ditch the overwhelm?
- Walking with others through grief and loss?
The options are endless.
Now make a list of the type of people you want to help like the examples we've used above. Notice how you feel each time you write something down. Who do you feel most drawn to work with?
If you'd like an exercise with journal prompts to help explore this further, check out: Choose Your Coaching Niche Using the Seven Stories Exercise.
Don't chase the latest fads
When it comes to choosing a coaching niche, it’s best to understand yourself first. Start by considering what skills, interests, and expertise you already possess. After all, your strengths are the foundation you'll be building your coaching business upon!
To narrow in on coaching specializations that may be a good fit for you, pay attention to where your background and experience line up most naturally. The International Coaching Federation (ICF) has identified a set of broad Coaching Themes that provide us with a place to begin. They include:
- Communication Skills
- Interpersonal Relationships
- Organizational Development/Leadership Development
- Personal Growth
- Self Confidence
- Team Development
- Work-Life Balance
While these represent a wide array of coaching topics, comparing broad categories against one another is a reasonable place to start.
Which do I feel most drawn to?
What areas might I eliminate from consideration?
Get to know the coaching industry
While we don't advocate that you chase trends, it IS useful to understand the market for life coaches and where the industry is headed. Some thoughtful industry research can help you work through how to apply your strengths and passions to an existing consumer need.
You can inform yourself about the bigger picture with these resources guides:
- The Wellness Economy: What Life Coaches Need to Know
- 2022 Life Coaching Industry Trends
- 20 Hottest Life Coaching Niches
Find your role models
Another way to uncover what appeals to you is to check out what people you admire are doing, and how they got there. What life coaches or leaders working today inspire you the most?
Check out Lumia co-founders John Kim and Noelle Cordeaux as just two examples. Equally successful, but with very different styles and areas of focus as coaches!
Make a list of the people who you think really stand out in the coaching space. They don't need to be famous names, just people doing the work in ways that you like.
- Why do they inspire you?
- In what ways do you connect with them?
- Do you resonate with their story, their way of sharing, what they share, or how they share?
We recommend finding role models not so that you can emulate or copy their style! Rather, it's about finding clues about what resonates for you. Knowing why you are inspired by certain coaches can offer some useful insights toward discovering your own coaching niche.
What is your message?
- If you could tell others just one thing about the benefits of coaching, what would it be?
- What do the people you'd like to work with need to hear right now?
- What will make a difference in their lives?
In the process of defining what you most want to communicate, you'll begin to narrow in on who you are meant to serve.
One way to figure out your message is through practicing your craft. Coach on a variety of topics, and notice where people gain the most from your coaching. What do you do well, and where do you feel most effective?
If you haven’t yet booked many paying clients yet, use your life as the laboratory.
You can practice with a friend or colleague. Let them know that you'd like to practicing the tools and techniques you learned through your coach training program.
Keep repeating the coaching fundamentals in every relationship you have:
- Build trust
- Practice empathy
- Ask open ended questions
- Resist the temptation to give unsolicited advice
- Avoid labels and judgements
- Notice your own responses
Remember, you’re developing as a coach. Even professional athletes understand the value of practicing their skills.
Naturally you want to help whoever you’re practicing on. But the bigger goal is to provide yourself with opportunities to experiment. Explore different techniques and ways in, find your style, and build confidence.
Ready For A Career In Coaching?
Launch your coaching practice right! Check out Lumia Life Coach Training - a program that's every bit as unique as you are. Grounded in science, our ICF accredited program features authentic instructors, a robust curriculum, and fellow students dedicated to becoming a force for good in the world of coaching.