Episode 366

How to Quickly Create a Coaching Website that Converts with Jason Gracia from Swyft Sites

In this episode of the LMScast podcast hosted by Chris Badgett from LifterLMS, you will discover how Jason Gracia from swyftsites.com creates powerful websites for coaches that really help his clients in the coaching industry. Swyft Sites is a way for a coach or a consultant to get everything they need in a website to get clients, without having to do any of it themselves. 

Creating your own website can be overwhelming. There are many solutions out there that make it sound “easy” and claim that you can get your website with a push of a button. It is hardly the reality and sure you can get a good-looking website with a template easily, but something that works towards your goals? That’s where Swyft Sites differentiate themselves. They create a strong backend to support your business by understanding your needs and gathering resources from you while keeping the front end of the website conversion friendly. They think of it as a powerful tool.

So, Swyft Sites has a platform where career or skill coaches can go through a step-by-step wizard to input or select fonts, colors, messages, icons, photos everything relevant to their branding. When they have completed their submission, the work gets handed to our teams and they start adding their magic. This is how they have eliminated waiting for input from the client from our workflow, saving productivity hours for the company. They also have an upfront and monthly downpayment scheme, so it is also detached from the submission of the requirements.

Profile Picture of Jason Garcia

Jason built his first website motivation123.com back in 2001 which soon became the top-ranked personal development site on search engines. He got into selling courses and consulting. He also authored books on relevant topics. Soon, he was helping other coaches with their websites and that’s how he specialized in this niche. “For Swyft, we don’t sell websites. We sell the business and life after Swyft.” They may think they want a website but what they really want is what the website can do for them. So we have very clear endpoints, “This is what we’re going for. This is why it’s worth it.” So, when we hand over a website to our clients, it can start functioning on every business endpoint that was promised, from sending automated emails, to CRM or booking sessions – everything works right off the bat.

Coaches are also essentially entrepreneurs. So, to them, the website has to function like a business machine that converts leads. Unlike most people who think of websites as a piece of art that you should show and tell to people you meet. Coaches also rely on the revenue from their learners, so they may also need functionalities like courses, assignments, and ways to keep their students and instructors engaged. Something where LifterLMS has already a leading position in the industry. Lifter exists to democratize education.

The 2 most essential elements of your website have to be conveniently generating calls, from that you will be able to get on with your leads with a personal touch and also understand and track the volume. Now calling may be too much to ask for someone who is not feeling ready, you can easily offer them to join your newsletter or offer a free book to follow up with them through emails. Anything that works with your audience to get them into your backend on the first day.

Jason has survived cancer, had a life-altering epiphany, and has more than 20 years in the motivational coaching industry. Here is a message to all who are listening to the podcast or reading the blog:

“If you have something in you that you think can be shared and improve the lives of others, I can just tell you through personal experience, and I’m sure you can too, it is so worth the effort. It is so worth the risk because the worst thing is to have this in you and then just think about it until there’s no chance. You got to go for it.”

Jason Gracia

Jason can be reached at swyftsites.com and you can also read his guide on The 5 Things Your Coaching Website Can’t Go Without in the blog section.

At LifterLMS.com, you can learn more about new developments and how you can use LifterLMS to build online courses and membership sites. If you like this episode of LMScast, you can browse more episodes here. Subscribe to our newsletter for updates, developments, and future episodes of LMScast. I’ve got a gift for you over at lifterlms.com/gift. Go to lifterlms.com/gift. Thank you for joining us!

Episode Transcript

Chris Badgett:
You’ve come to the right place if you’re looking to create, launch, and scale a high-value online training program. I’m your guide, Chris Badgett. I’m the cofounder of LifterLMS, the most powerful learning management system for WordPress. Stay to the end. I’ve got something special for you. Enjoy the show. Hello, and welcome back to another episode of LMScast. I’m joined by a special guest. His name is Jason Gracia. He’s from swyftsites.com. That’s S-W-Y-F-T sites.com. It’s an all-in-one done-for-you coaching website for the expert coaches out there. I love what Jason has done here, and I’m really excited to unpack kind of the story behind all this and how he sees the coaching industry. Welcome to the show, Jason.

Jason Gracia:
Thank you so much, Chris.

Chris Badgett:
Let’s set some context here. First, just at a high level, what’s the elevator pitch of Swyft Sites?

Jason Gracia:
So Swyft Sites is a way for a coach or a consultant to get everything they need in a website to get clients, without having to do any of it themselves. And so the tech overwhelm… I mean, we’re sold in the market of “Everything’s so easy. Just push a button, and everything’s done for you.” The truth of the matter is that rarely works. And even if you can throw up a template from Squarespace or something like that, that’s not going to be a business machine that actually helps you generate business. And so that’s really what Swyft is about, all in one, truly done for you so you can have a business machine at your back instead of a pretty brochure.

Chris Badgett:
I’ve always kind of aspired to this kind of value proposition or marketing slogan that is all the power of WordPress without the hassle, and you have essentially executed on this for the coaching niche. How do you provide all that without the hassle? What makes the magic work, so you can work with the expert that doesn’t necessarily want to get too much in the weeds of the tech?

Jason Gracia:
So our business is two phases. Phase one is gathering their information from them. And so what we do is I have a software that we have, the Swyft Sites platform, and in that platform, that is where people would enter all the information designer needs.

Chris Badgett:
Is that coming through forms, or is it like a folder? Or what is it?

Jason Gracia:
So that’s actually software I had developed. So I hired a developer, and they build out the entire platform. So yeah, it’s an online application where everything is saved through that platform into a database that we can access. And so if you were my client, you would walk through a step-by-step process, automated, where you’re giving me your colors, your fonts, your copy, your images, all within our software. Then you click-

Chris Badgett:
So I know if I’m incomplete, like “Oh, I haven’t given him my headshot,” or something.

Jason Gracia:
That’s exactly right. You have to check off what you’ve done. And we see on our end our dashboard percentages, so we know where clients are in their process, how far they’ve come. And when you’re done giving us that information, you click a button that says, “Build my site,” and that’s the last you see of anything until your finished site is in your hands. And so we do everything after that. We build out the WordPress website. We set up their email marketing. We set up their scheduling. And when we’re finished, we hand them the finished website. And it’s Elementor, so there is no backend that they have to go to. There’s no code. It’s just front-facing changes if they want to tweak something, and we have tutorials on how to do that. So we really try to make it where… Give us your info. We’ll do all the rest. If you want to change it, here are simple tutorials to do so.

Chris Badgett:
As a previous agency owner myself, I have to ask: What do you do if somebody has gotten into the content delivery phase, and you see that they have stopped their checklist of getting you what you need? How do you help them get across the finish line there?

Jason Gracia:
Right, so huge issue. Pre this business model, I was a regular designer, so my business would go on pause when clients would not send me their content. In the design world, that’s the biggest thing. So the way I built this business is there is no timeline or deadline. You take as long as you need to enter your information, because we don’t work until you’re finished. And so that’s how I got around that hurdle. Our business, once you sign on, we have nothing to do with you until you’re done. You could take a month to do it. You could take a year to put in your information. But our team has nothing to do with you until you’re ready to go, so it’s up to you.

Jason Gracia:
Now, we send out emails. We have a Facebook group. There’s things where we can nudge them along. But in the end, we let them know, “It’s up to you. If you want this website up and running, you know what you have to do, but we’re not going to nag you every day to do it.” So that’s how I got around a hurdle, and that’s how we’re able to scale, because if someone takes a long time with their content, it doesn’t affect us at all.

Chris Badgett:
And how does that work just on the money side? Have they already put some money up, so there’s kind of skin in the game, or have they already paid for the whole thing? Or how does that work, just in terms of just on the money side? When do you get paid?

Jason Gracia:
Yep. So upfront, you have to pay either in full or a payment plan, and the payment plan is monthly. So it’s not tied to when they finish anything, otherwise that’d be a really hard business to run. We’d never be able to rely on cash flow. So if you were a client, you either pay in full on day one, or you pay your first payment, and then we have payment plans where you pay every month to pay out your balance.

Chris Badgett:
That’s awesome. And for anybody, whether they’re doing the website theirselves or they’re interested in working with a company like Swyft Sites, what’s the average time it takes for a expert coach-type person and to kind of get that content to you? Is it like a month? Is it two months, two weeks, six months? What is it?

Jason Gracia:
So I wish there was an average. And we keep track, and it’s all over the place, because we have people who take a year. We have people who do it in an afternoon.

Chris Badgett:
Oh, wow.

Jason Gracia:
The average coach, though, who can sit down and work at it, I’d say in about a week they can finish. And our build time is less than a week. So a client can come in through our doors, join on a Monday. Their website can be up by the next week.

Chris Badgett:
I mean, that’s the dream, really, especially if somebody’s really got their stuff together and they’ve got their content ready, and their colors and their logo and their brand and everything.

Jason Gracia:
Right. Yeah, they fly through it.

Chris Badgett:
Why the coaching niche? Or how did you end up here? Of all the niches you could do for a website service like this, how’d you pick coaching?

Jason Gracia:
So I’ll take you back a little bit. My dad was two things. He was into marketing, so that was very early age I learned all about marketing, and personal development. So I was reading Zig Ziglar, Tony Robbins, Earl Nightingale, Jim Rohn when I was 12 years old, so it started a long time ago in personal development. Then I went to college for marketing. And right out of marketing, my dad had a website, my stepmom had a website, my brothers had websites. And this was 2001, so pretty early days. And I wanted to get in on it. Everyone’s got a website. And so I thought, “What do I love to do,” and personal development was still a thing I really was interested in. So I started motivation123.com. Back then, you could get domain names like that, a little different than today.

Jason Gracia:
And so that’s where I really learned about how to build a website. So I did all HTML code, and then CSS wasn’t invented yet. And I really got hooked, so I dove in deep, built this website. And in just about a year or so, it went to the top of the search engines, so it was the top-ranked motivation website. And then it just kept going, where we were top ranked for motivation, employee motivation, motivational stories, motivational quotes. We had that covered. So I started getting millions of visitors. I wrote books in motivation, so I’m an author in personal development. I did courses, coaching, consulting, the whole thing back then. And then when I made my first million from that website, I was like, “Okay, I think I’ve figured this out,” and so I started helping other people as well.

Jason Gracia:
And what I realized was a lot of the people coming to me were coaches and consultants, because there were people who sold their information, but because I had a focus in personal development, people who sell services in personal development, they’re usually coaches or consultants. And so that’s kind of how it came to be, where when I was young, I was interested in it, and then it just kept getting deeper and deeper. And now, it’s been my whole life. Now, as that business ran, Motivation123 was great. It ran. I helped people. Then in 2016, I was diagnosed with cancer. Saying the word brings me back to that day in an instant, in the kitchen. My wife’s holding our four-month-old daughter. And I just see a message in my little online portal that says, “Call me as soon as you get this,” and I knew.

Jason Gracia:
When a doctor says, “Call me immediately,” not good news. And so that’s when I got the news. Chemo radiation started within five days, so our world just flipped upside down overnight. I had to walk away from what I was doing, because I just couldn’t… Going through everything I was going through, I couldn’t run that business, but the medical bills didn’t stop. Cancer’s very expensive, even if you have insurance. People would say, “You got insurance. What’s the worry?” It’s very expensive, especially when you’re not bringing any money in. So I’m in the situation where I’ve got a four-month-old daughter, married, house, mortgage payment coming due. We’re thinking about, “Do we have to sell the house now, because of medical bills?”

Jason Gracia:
And I got an email out of the blue from Bill Simmons in South Carolina, and he asked me a simple question, “Do you build websites?” And I never, up to that point, never built a website for someone else. I built them for me. I was the web guy for my own companies. But in that situation, as a dad and a husband, I said what everyone would say. I said, “Of course we build websites.” And it turns out he was a coach. And so that’s really where I started to put all these pieces together, that my background of personal development and marketing, the coach who knows how to coach… They know how to deliver their thing, but they don’t know how to deliver it through a website. All of these pieces kind of came together, and I realized, “I’ve got 15 years of experience to solve this one problem for this one person,” and that’s where it all came together for me.

Jason Gracia:
And so I started a new company. At that point, it was SavvyHippo, and it was going to be… All the advice in the world is, “Niche down, niche down,” and I never listened. Motivation123, my market was human beings between the ages of 5 and 90. And so that can work, but for this, I realized I really do want to be a specialist for these people. So I cut out everyone else that we were working with and said, “We only work with coaches and consultants.” And so that’s kind of where that whole world started, of the background led up to it, and then Bill. That random email, it just… He was a coach, and I thought, “You know what? I think this is it.”

Jason Gracia:
And launched SavvyHippo, built the software I’d talked to you about before a little bit, about how to do this faster and scale. And then we eventually rebranded to Swyft Sites, and running the company we do today now, where we’ve worked with over 225 coaches through our process with our platform, getting their sites up and running fast for them. So long story, but that’s how it all came to coaches.

Chris Badgett:
What an incredible story. Before we go deeper on coaching and coaches, I have to ask you, since you mentioned Motivation123. Learning courses and consulting and coaching, there’s a learning component, and if somebody is trying to teach somebody, motivation is important. So what motivational… I’m sure it’s a giant question, but what are some more counterintuitive or maybe misunderstood insights around motivation in a learning context between and a teacher or coach and a student or client?

Jason Gracia:
Oh, that’s a really good question. So what keeps you motivated to do what needs to be done.

Chris Badgett:
Or from the learner side, I’m more thinking… For the learner to dig in and do the work to complete the course, or to follow through on the coaching and the transformation and stuff, to do their part.

Jason Gracia:
Right, okay. So what I would say for anyone who has clients and they have information they need those clients to get through, I would say two things for me. One, make the endpoint very clear. Why are we doing this? Where are we going? For Swyft, we don’t sell websites. We sell the business and life after Swyft. That’s the key, because that’s what they want. They don’t want a website. No one really wants a website. We want what the website can do for us. So I think having a very clear endpoint for your clients, “This is what we’re going for. This is why it’s worth it.” The other thing is to realize through that journey, there’s going to be roadblocks, there’s going to be bumps, and be ready for those. Be ready for, “I know you’re running into this issue. This is common. Here’s what you do to overcome it.”

Jason Gracia:
Because when people are going through that learning cycle, it doesn’t take much to have someone doubt, feel defeated, and give up. And so what you want are… Along the way, you want benchmarks to keep that motivation going. You can’t just set it once. Like Zig Ziglar said, motivation’s like bathing. You can’t do it once and expect it to cover you. You have to keep doing it. And so that’s what I would say: Have a clear endpoint so you know where these people are going, and then predict where they’re going to get stuck in that process. Make it as easy as you can, but then have outreach, emails, texts, videos, anything you can do to be there to support them through any of those roadblocks that you know are coming along the way.

Chris Badgett:
How about the coach or the expert’s motivation just in terms of hitting a wall of burnout, or maybe difficult clients, or whatever that can cause them to maybe lose a little bit of motivation? How do you stay grounded and moving forward as a expert, especially when you obviously care and have all this passion, but you’re kind of burned out from…

Jason Gracia:
Read your testimonials.

Chris Badgett:
Okay.

Jason Gracia:
Yep, that is my number one tip. Nothing can turn around a day, especially if you’re working with a difficult client. First of all, you should have systems in place to try to vet out… You want to filter out everyone who could give… Because as you and I know better than probably most people, clients make or break you. A bad client can ruin your life. They just consume you, and so you want to have systems in place where you can make sure that you’re only working with the top people that you want to work with. But get those testimonials. Obviously, that should be built into your service, but read your testimonials. Have it on your website, of course, where people can see them.

Jason Gracia:
But you yourself, as the person who’s providing the service, nothing works better than seeing the difference you’ve made in people’s lives, the reaction they’ve had to the work that you’ve done. That can pull you out of almost anything. I printed out testimonials when I was younger. I printed them out and put them all over my wall, because I needed to remember, “Writing this book is so hard. I’m just looking at the page. I have to remember someone, somewhere in the world is going to read this, and their life might be different. That makes it all worth it.” So remembering who you’re doing it for, and then having kind of that visual of where you can read what people have been through with you, I think that really helps. So there’s tons you can do. I think that’s one of my top ones, is read those testimonials.

Chris Badgett:
Yeah, I like that. Don’t let one bad apple ruin the batch, or whatever, and revisit the glory there. On your website, this is at swyftsites.com, Swyft with a Y, you have a resource called “The 5 Things Your Coaching Website Can’t Go Without.” What are a couple examples out of that resource that are essential for a website for a coach?

Jason Gracia:
Yep. So fundamentally, you have to start looking at your website as a business machine. So the mindset shift is this is not a work of art, which is what a lot of people look at their website as, this is like a painting I want to show off to my friends.

Chris Badgett:
Design.

Jason Gracia:
Exactly. And what you want is a conversion machine, if you’re an entrepreneur. So with us, there’s education that has to take place there, where a lot of coaches… It’s like the mechanic who then runs the auto shop. They don’t know how to… Those are two different universes. And so a coach, consultant has to realize they’re entrepreneurs, and so the first thing is you have to start looking at your website as a business machine. That’s why tracking your numbers is important. That’s why conversion optimization is important.

Jason Gracia:
It’s not because it’s going to improve that work of art. It’s not because your neighbors are going to be more impressed. It’s because it’s going to help you actually build your business. 80% of coaches go out of business in three years. You need a machine that is built to help you solve that problem. Now, how do you do it? What are some of the fundamentals? First of all, it has to be able to book discovery calls or strategy sessions, quick and easy. The coach who says, “Ah, I don’t need that. I just have people email me,” they have no idea how many people they’re losing, because people will not email you to set up a time to call. The back and forth, there’s friction having to email you… Any step you put in front of a human being, there’s going to be friction. They’re not going to want to take it.

Jason Gracia:
So I would say number one, that website has to be built and optimized to quickly and easily book a discovery call with you. Now, the fact is the majority of people coming to your website the first time are not going to book a call. The ask is too big. Either distraction, or they’re just not there yet, and so you also have to be offering the guide. So you mentioned the guide. That’s what you need. You need a lead generator, and then an email follow-up system. The majority of coaches will get their clients on the back end after someone has entered their world, not normally on the first visit. So you want your website to be a machine that says, “Book a call if you’re ready, but if you’re not, here is our second objective, which is: Join my email list, and I’ll give you this great guide in exchange.” Now you can follow up with them by email. So I would say that’s your one and two. You got to have scheduling built in, you have to have email marketing built in so you can do the follow-up.

Chris Badgett:
How do you think about the hero area, or the top above the fold on a homepage? First impression besides the menu, what should we have? From an imagery and copy standpoint, call to action, whatever, what goes there?

Jason Gracia:
Perfect. So when it comes to coaching, you can of one of two images. You can have either an image of you, if you’re building more brand… Because there is a celebrity factor there. If you get a professional photo shoot… Always professional photo shoots. When clients come to us and they say, “Oh, my son took a picture on his cell phone. Can I use this?” No, you cannot. So number one could be you, if you have a professional shoot, to build a credibility and authority, even celebrity. If not, you show the happily ever after of your ideal client. So within three seconds, you want to connect emotionally with that visitor and show them what their… What are you about, and where can you take them? So for instance, if you’re a marriage coach, you show a happy couple. If you’re a health and fitness coach, you show someone who’s happy, healthy, and fit.

Jason Gracia:
You show them their future, so they can immediately connect with that image. As far as copy, we stay away from clever. Like Donald Miller says, we stay away from clever. We want clarity. And so it’s, “What I do, why I do it. Here’s what to do next,” which is a button to book a call. Or you can have a secondary button to get that lead generator to join the email list. But very clearly, “This is what I do, so this is the big-picture problem I solve, or where I can help you get to. This is why I do it. Here are the benefits. Click below.” We try and limit our headlines to two to three words if we can, and then our subhead to a single sentence or a few bullet points, but we minimize the copy there. We just want it to say clearly within three seconds, “I know what this person’s about. I know what to do next.”

Chris Badgett:
That’s awesome. Now, for the person that’s not red hot and ready to buy, if they’re going to get the resource or exchange the email address for the guide or whatever, what do you use to… For an advanced marketer, they know how to connect all the dots there, but how do you make that part simple for somebody who’s not a techie to get the email, deliver the thing, and add them to the list, and all that? What do you recommend there?

Jason Gracia:
So I can answer that two ways. As far as our company, that’s what we do, so everything is set up for a client. A client can visit a Swyft site after they’re done and people can visit their site, join their email list, get their giveaway, start getting an auto responder, and book a call. It’s all done on day one.

Chris Badgett:
So it’s not even just the website. You have the whole business machine there.

Jason Gracia:
Everything’s done for them, yep.

Chris Badgett:
Wow.

Jason Gracia:
Yeah, coach doesn’t have to do anything. Once we hand the website to them, it is finished, ready to go. We’ve had clients who… During their review phase of when they’re reviewing their website, people are already booking calls and setting up appointments, so there’s nothing to do once we do our work. Now, if someone’s just getting started on their own, you got to connect those dots. So you want to find an email marketing service provider, and you want to integrate it into the website, and then you have to take your lead generator and upload it into WordPress, connect those dots with links.

Jason Gracia:
So there’s a lot of pieces there, but that’s what we do, because we don’t want coaches to have to worry about any of that. So we just hand it over and it works. The email marketing, we preload their email marketing service that we set up with three emails ready to go out so the first three days, any new subscriber’s going to start getting emails from them, and then the client can add to that if they want. But yeah, we do it all for them. But if you do it on your own, there’s some steps that you got to take to be able to connect and integrate an email marketing service into your WordPress website.

Chris Badgett:
That’s awesome. I want to talk a little bit about identity in the sense that some people get a little wrapped up in words like, “I’m a course creator. I’m a coach. I’m a consultant.” What makes a coach a coach in your view? I know some coaches have courses, some don’t, but really, what is coaching, and how is it different from consultant, course creator? How do you really frame that if somebody’s still trying to figure out where they are, what they want to become?

Jason Gracia:
So in the market of coaches right now, you have two groups. You have the die-hard, like the original coaching is, and then they’ll say we, “We do not offer advice. We do not answer questions. We ask the questions. We provide space for people.” That’s one realm of coaching. That’s-

Chris Badgett:
I haven’t heard this dichotomy before. So that’s like the true “I’m going to pull the best out of you” kind of thing.

Jason Gracia:
Right. I don’t lead you there. I open the doors where you can walk through. So that’s one area of coaching, and that’s fantastic. That’s great. I applaud those coaches. I wish them the best. What we work with usually are coach consultants. They don’t call themselves coach consultants, but definition, that’s what they are. They’re people who do have programs, and they have paths for you to follow. So they’re there to both point the way and then support you as you go. So to me, when I think about the coaching industry, I think about experts who know how to get you somewhere, and they’re going to help you on your way. If you do talk to traditionalists, that’s not what a coach does. That is not at all. That’s what a consultant does.

Jason Gracia:
But for me, big picture, that’s how I look at it. It’s someone who knows something that you don’t know yet, and they can share it with you to help you get where you want to go. So that includes people who do courses with support. So a lot of coaches want courses. I usually… The people we work with that courses support what they do. So I’m going to coach you, and there’s material for you to go through. We do differentiate between course creators, though, where I just sell a course. They’re not-

Chris Badgett:
Passive, it’s passive.

Jason Gracia:
Yeah. Yep, and that’s not who we work with. There is some kind of interaction with your client for us. But yeah, those are the two worlds. The traditionalists who say, “You never tell someone anything. You always just ask questions. Let them find the answer.” There’s people more like me, who are… If I’m going to pay someone, I want them that tell me what works, so I don’t have to struggle to get there. So that’s how I differentiate. But most coaches, when they say, “I’m a coach,” they’re a coach consultant. They’re a mixture. They’re a hybrid of both.

Chris Badgett:
Yeah. Personally, I’m kind of on your side with… If I’m going to help somebody or if I’m asking for help, I’m looking for a guide a little bit. I want some guidance. I know there’s some stuff inside of me to be surfaced, or in the client, but I think a helping hand, when you’ve seen the patterns of what works before, makes a lot of sense too.

Jason Gracia:
Right.

Chris Badgett:
Could you speak to group coaching versus one-on-one coaching? And should coaches offer both? I think there’s some advice out there that you should always start with one on one maybe, but how do you see that kind of… For people getting started, where do they start for the best odds of success?

Jason Gracia:
Yep. So I would say one on one. One on one is always your lowest-hanging fruit. Also, one on one is the easiest thing to sell. So if someone wants to do a course, write a book, anything like that, I say, “If you want the easiest thing to sell, it’s one-on-one coaching,” because nothing is as impactful or compelling as a human being saying, “I’m going to be there with you. We’re going to do this together.” Group is fantastic for scale, but group is a different beast. You need to know how to manage a group of people, which is different than coaching a single person. So there’s a different skillset, where you have to have your coaching down if you’re going to coach 20 or 30 people. If you’re brand new, coaching one person can be overwhelming. And then if you open the door to 20 voices at once, it’s a recipe for disaster in my mind.

Jason Gracia:
If you come from corporate, where you’re used to leading groups, if you come from a situation where the group dynamic is nothing new to you, I think you could probably get away with starting with group if you wanted to, depending on how you set it up. You have your course content where they can learn information, and then, say, a group coaching call each week. I think those people can manage it. But a lot of these brand new coaches who are new to the whole world of it, I say, “Start with one on one. Make sure you can help one person before you think you can help 10 at once.” So I’m a fan of the one on one. I just want people to start with easy successes. It’s hard to launch a group program. It’s harder to sell, because you do lose something. That one-on-one connection with your coach often is replaced by a group coaching call.

Jason Gracia:
So it’s harder to sell, but the value isn’t as strong. So if you were someone joining us and you were brand new, I’d say, “Chris, I think your best bet is to find that one problem you are fantastic at solving, find the one person that needs it solved, and then work with that one person and get them a result.” Then you know what you’re doing, and it’s going to help this coaching industry, which has a lot of people who don’t know what they’re doing. They don’t know how to deliver a result, but they want to charge a ton of money because it sounds… The internet lifestyle, right?

Jason Gracia:
That’s a huge problem in coaching, and that’s why it’s gotten better. But early stages of coaching, people were like “These are people who read a book yesterday, and now they’re charging me $10,000.” Their life is in shambles. They’re trying to teach me. We’ve gotten a little bit better, but that’s what I think. We need coaches who I can coach one on one. I know how to get you a result. Then I can work with more than one person at a time. But first, make sure you know what you’re doing, so you can deliver a really great service to someone.

Chris Badgett:
Also, on the beginning of that journey, what makes somebody, whether it’s a consultant or maybe somebody’s gone through a personal transformation themselves, really ready to be a coach? What are they doing right before they’re like, “All right, coaching is what I’m going to do”? That transformation there, who’s a good fit for that? Who’s not a good fit for that? How does that transformation happen?

Jason Gracia:
To be honest, often, it’s certification. So you hear in the market, “You don’t need to be certified. You don’t need any of that. You can just call yourself a coach.” Yes, you can. That helps people sell things. If I say to you, “You’re worried about X, Y, and Z. Guess what? Don’t worry about any of it. Just buy my program.” I’m a fan of certifications that are reputable, that actually do a good job. It’s not a weekend course you watch on Udemy, or something like a 10-minute video, and now you can call yourself a coach. So I do think in-depth coach certification programs which really teach you how to work with a human being to get them from here to there, I think that’s usually the precursor to saying, “I’m a coach, and I can do this.”

Jason Gracia:
However, I was never certified, so I also think if you have the skills and you have a system and it’s tested out in your life or in the lives of other people, I think then you can make the leap and call yourself a coach and charge for your services. But I don’t think the people paying you should be the guinea pigs. I don’t think that’s where you should kind of figure out how to coach. Those people deserve the value that they’re paying for. And so it could be in your own life, you were in a toxic relationship. You did X, Y, and Z, and now you are out of it, and you learned a process that helps that.

Jason Gracia:
Then I think then you can offer that, as long as you know that it can correlate to other people. Or if you have helped other people unofficially, you’ve helped a friend who was struggling with a problem, and you really dove in and helped them, and you have experience helping another person, I think there you could hang your shingle and say, “I’m a coach.” But I do believe there has to be some kind of proof in the pudding. There has to be where you did it, you helped someone else do it, or you got certified to learn how to do it before you should be charging people money.

Chris Badgett:
Is there a short list of certification places that you’d throw out there that you respect?

Jason Gracia:
So in the US, iPEC. iPEC is probably the top school. That’s where-

Chris Badgett:
What does that stand for?

Jason Gracia:
So iPEC… And I can actually… Let me-

Chris Badgett:
International something?

Jason Gracia:
Yeah. And I want to get… So iPEC… And I’m just pulling up their site, because I don’t want to give any wrong information. Their site is just loaded with iPEC, iPEC, iPEC. They have so many different acronyms with iPEC, and that’s why I always want to double check.

Chris Badgett:
I’m in the LMS industry, so we say often there’s too many TLAs, which is three-letter acronyms. So it’s all good.

Jason Gracia:
Oh, I love that. But yeah, it’s Professional Excellence in Coaching. And so I’m sure the I is international, but iPEC is a… It’s up to a year-long program where it is an in-depth program. The price tag-

Chris Badgett:
Remote?

Jason Gracia:
Yeah. I believe they offer both remote and also on-site. And on the price tag, it’s an in-depth program with a nice… The price tag, last I checked, it was $10,000. The reason why when we get iPEC coaches it’s just a different experience, is because these are serious coaches. These are people who really invested in this. Now, you don’t have to be an iPEC coach at all. You can still be a great coach. There’s Erickson, which is another great one. Tony Robbins offers a coach training certification, John Maxwell, Jack Canfield, Ziglar Corporation, so there are many great coaching schools. You just want to make sure or you’re working with one with a history, with successful graduates. There are a lot that come out and it’s $5,000, and this is something we threw together last week because we learned about how we could make money in the coaching market. But yeah, Erickson, iPEC, Ziglar, Tony Robbins, Jack Canfield, John Maxwell, those are some really good, reputable schools that people go to.

Chris Badgett:
Do you see any patterns in coach personality types? I know there’s all kinds of different ones, but is there some common traits you see if somebody’s maybe feeling the calling that might resonate with them?

Jason Gracia:
Yeah, it’s really interesting. When you talk to as many coaches as I have, I’ve probably had probably a thousand discussions with coaches one on one. What you find is a lot of people in HR, so a lot of people who come from the world of HR, because they worked with people. That was their job, people. You find a lot of people from ministry, so a lot of people who, again, they were coaches in a different life. A lot of the people you find just like that, they were coaches in a different life. They’re just now putting a name to it. So it’s teachers, supervisors, managers, who were in kind of that leadership role of coaching other people.

Jason Gracia:
That’s a lot of the people, because what they realize is, “I didn’t like the nine-to-five structure. I didn’t like the red tape. What I loved is working with the people. That’s when I lit up. And so now, I’m done doing what I don’t want to do. Now, I want to focus only on the part I loved, which is coaching.” You also get a lot of people who’ve been through it themselves. So people have been through traumatic experiences, when they come out on the other side, they want to share what they’ve learned to help other people through it.

Jason Gracia:
And so I get a lot of those two worlds where it’s coach in a different life, or “I’ve been through something. I figured out some really useful strategies to help me through it, and I know there are other people out there suffering.” In the end, it’s service. The people that we get to work with, it’s the people who in the end, they want to help. They really truly do. Yes, they want to build a great business. Yes, they want the freedom. But it’s less internet marketing lifestyle, like that’s what they’re looking for, and more “How can I get paid to spend my days helping other people?” So it’s that service is just deep in their core. They’re really passionate about giving back and serving.

Chris Badgett:
If we zoom out at a high level and look at the coaching industry, I know there’s kind of the big niches of health, wealth, and relationships, but do you have any other kind of frameworks for looking at all the different areas of coaching? What are some big areas? And I know there’s all these different niches, but what’s the lay of the land out there?

Jason Gracia:
Yeah, and so that’s… Not to just piggyback on what you said, but those are the top three, always: money, relationships, and love. When you get a little deeper into it, what I find, the two worlds are tangible, intangible. And so there are coaches who their work, you can touch and feel. It’s a business coach who can say, “We’re going to do these concrete things.” It’s a health and fitness coach who can show, “Here are the tangible results. You’re going to see different things.”

Chris Badgett:
Before and after.

Jason Gracia:
Before and after. Then there is the spiritual life relationship, where it’s more intangible. There, it’s the difference between almost soft and hard skills, where you can’t point to it as much, so it’s a different universe of how you sell it, how you deliver it, how you can point to a positive result with it, how you market it. But you’re right, before and after’s a great way to put it. There’s the coaching specialties where there is a before and after, and then there’s the coaching specialties where it’s more of life coaching, where you’re uplifting people’s lives. You’re helping center them, ground them. You’re helping give them hope. You’re helping them set goals. So the top three are always going to be the top three: looking good, making money, and finding love. But when you get down to it, there are those differentiations there’s more of the before-and-after coaches, where you can point to results. And then there’s the softer skills, where it’s not as… More intangible results.

Jason Gracia:
So we got a lot of, on that side, the life coaching, the spiritual coaches, the mindset coaches. And then we get the business coaches, consultants, health and fitness coaches, career coaches. Those are two very different people, because one, they’re focused on the business. They realize this is a business. Life coaches, there’s just a bit more education there usually when you’re talking about it, because sometimes they push against that “I’m running a business.” Unfortunately, if you want to succeed as a coach, you have to have both hats. You’ve got to know you’re running a business. You’re an entrepreneur and a coach. So yeah, two different experiences with those two different worlds of coaches.

Chris Badgett:
I know there’s a saying in coaching called niche drama. So if somebody actually lives both worlds… Let’s say they were excellent in their role in professional, and there’s this career coach opportunity, but they also are just in love with people and relationships. And they’re like, “I don’t know which kind of coach to become.” Is there anything you’ve seen that you could speak to if somebody’s like, “I know I want to be a coach. I just can’t choose, because there’s all these different versions of things I’m into, or what I’m passionate about”?

Jason Gracia:
Yeah. I have a lot to say, because that is the number one and two issues. Well, there’s three. What should my domain name be? How do I write my words? And then the niche. And the niche can stop people for years. That is the number one issue in coaching. And part of it’s just the human mind. The human mind does not like to close doors. The FOMO keeps us wanting to do everything always.

Chris Badgett:
But you have to pick. You have to focus, right?

Jason Gracia:
I personally think you absolutely need to pick, but you only need to pick for a season. And I think that’s-

Chris Badgett:
What’s the season?

Jason Gracia:
… the biggest thing that coaches have to realize. Yes, the season… It’s just this time in your life right now. It does not have to be forever. So where coaches, I think… First of all, they have to learn the basics of niching, which is… What Taki Moore likes to say in coaching is “The wider you throw that net, the bigger the holes are. The tighter your net, the smaller the holes, and so you catch the right people.” If I’m going to throw the net that covers the ocean, those holes are going to be so wide, it’s not going to catch anybody. And so what you want to do as a coach to succeed is speak the language of your market.

Jason Gracia:
The only way you can really speak their language is by choosing a market. So if you want to work with people who are 15 and 50, very difficult unless they have a shared problem and a shared experience, then you can do it. But normally, niching is just so powerful. Everything changes. Your marketing gets easier. Your messaging gets better. You become a specialist. You can charge premium prices, on and on. Now, how do you do it? First, you have to realize it’s not forever. Coaches are so scared about locking in, and they think, “If I choose this today, for the next 70 years, this is what I do?” No, this is not what you do. That would be number one. Number two, probably the work of it is you’ve got to make sure three things are in place. One, there’s a market. Two, there’s an ability. Three, there’s passion.

Jason Gracia:
I put passion at the bottom. So many people passionate at the top. As long as you love it, that’s all that matters. That is not all that matters. You could be passionate about people who have no money. It’s very hard to succeed as a coach when your target market can’t pay for coaching. So what I usually tell coaches is start with everything your skill set can help you do. Then, you narrow down by market. Where is there a proven market? Where are people actually already hiring coaches in this market? Where are they paying for courses? Where are they investing money? Where are there already groups that cater to this? Facebook groups, LinkedIn groups, magazines, periodicals, books. You narrow down that way. Then you narrow down viability. What can you actually do that’s better than your average coach? Because everyone’s a coach. You have to stand out. So what can you do better? What do you great at?

Jason Gracia:
And then finally, you narrow that list down. And then the last would be: What do you love to do? Who do you love to work with? And then, you should get down to an area where there’s a market, you’re really good at it, and you love the people in it and want to work with them. Then when you realize this isn’t forever, that helps you get to where you want to go to start. The other thing that I tell coaches is you cannot think your way there, and that’s a big problem. People think, “If I just take the next 10 years and think about this, I’m going to get to this aha moment.” You’ve got to get in there and do it.

Jason Gracia:
You’ve got to launch your coaching business and work with people and realize by doing it, “This is what I like. This is what I don’t like. I thought I like this, but when I do it, this is not my work.” If you don’t do it, you could take six months just trying to think about it, making pro-con lists, but you just can’t think your way there. You’ve got to do it. You got to put boots on the ground. Get in there and actually do the coaching. Of course, just want to say I coach everyone on everything. You want to still pick those areas that have a market, there’s demand, ability. But I really do think if you’re just trying to think your way there in your head, you’re going to drive yourself crazy. So get into it, and then you can figure it out.

Chris Badgett:
You mentioned it, so we’ll bring it up, is the domain name. Should a coach be their name dotcom, or should it be like the name of their program, or their niche, or whatever dotcom? What do you recommend?

Jason Gracia:
Their name dotcom every single time.

Chris Badgett:
Okay, why is that?

Jason Gracia:
For a few reasons. Yep. So Motivation123, it did not matter where I wanted to go. I had had to stick with motivation. It wouldn’t make sense, because people put a lot of stock into the name they read. If it’s your name, they have zero attachment or meaning to it. So if I went to, for instance, jasongracia.com, no one has any idea what this is about, and so they’re open. But I just had a client a few weeks ago, and her thing was dazzlingrita.com. Now, to her, dazzling means whatever it means. She can’t control though what dazzling means to her market. And so she could be losing people because they might think, “Oh, dazzling? What is this, like jazz hands? I don’t need that kind of coaching.” And so you got to be careful. If you choose a descriptive name, people can be turned off because of their association with it.

Jason Gracia:
The other thing is if you change direction with your name, nothing changes. Logo stays. Color scheme, your website, your domain, everything can stay because you can go in any direction, and it gives you instant credibility and authority. If it is your name as the website, you are automatically granted a certain level of authority. So that is my vote, always: first name, or first name coaching if that’s taken, or a nonsense name like SavvyHippo. That also gave me freedom, because after cancer, I didn’t know what I was going to do. So I wanted a name, and so SavvyHippo gave me the freedom to do whatever I wanted, because it didn’t mean anything. I filled it with meaning.

Jason Gracia:
The tougher names is like Swyft Sites. Before I knew what I was doing, Swyft Sites is too specific. People have an idea of what these people do and what they mean. I couldn’t do that early in my career, because I didn’t know what I wanted to do. So for coaches, they always bring it up. I always say, “Get your name as fast as you can. And don’t worry about it another second, and just move forward,” because this will trip them up for months. So that’s my take. Other people have different takes, but I’ve seen the question hurt people so many times that I just say, “Pick your name, and next. Let’s keep moving forward.”

Chris Badgett:
The third thing you mentioned was words, I think. What did you mean by that? There was the picking the niche, the domain name, and then the third one was words, I think you said.

Jason Gracia:
Copywriting.

Chris Badgett:
Oh, copywriting. All right, cool. So speak to that. I’m a marketer. I’ve spent a lot of time learning that, and I know that is not a skill that everybody has, and it takes a while to develop that. So what’s a coach to do?

Jason Gracia:
What’s a coach to do? Yeah, copywriting’s the most important piece of a high-converting website, and it’s the hardest piece by far. Hardly anyone understands copy without learning copy. So the way we solve it is we have in our platform… Here’s what I did. I realized this was an issue, and we have to solve this, so I of course taught them. So in our platform, we go through every section of every page, and I say, “This is what you should write. This is how you should write it. Here’s examples of what other people have written,” but then we got to the point where we just had to write it for them. And so I took six months, and I wrote entire coaching websites from 10 different specialties: life coach, life purpose coach, business coach, career coach. And they can click a button in our software, and it pre-fills all their pages with my copy.

Chris Badgett:
So they’re more just editing, not inventing.

Jason Gracia:
That’s exactly it. So what I tell them is, “You should still edit. It has to match your voice. But as far as, ‘How do I write this? What do I write? How much do I write,’ that’s all taken care of for you. See what I wrote for you from the angle of a career coach, for instance, and now tweak it so it makes sense for you.” But editing and tweaking we have our clients do, not copywriting. If they don’t work with us, I usually think you need to hire a copywriter. Because if you don’t have the right words, it doesn’t matter. No one’s going to convert, and it’s a waste of money to invest in a website that doesn’t convert for you. So copy is key. We do it for them. If you don’t have that, hire a copywriter who can go through your words with you.

Chris Badgett:
Is there any just quick copywriting/strategy ideas you have for somebody who is looking to differentiate in the market?

Jason Gracia:
Yes.

Chris Badgett:
And maybe they’re struggling with a little imposter syndrome, but if they could at least figure out, “Okay, well this is my spot in the market,” and say it well, I think that helps overcome that. What’s a coach to do to kind of differentiate when they feel like they’re in a crowded market?

Jason Gracia:
Yeah, which everyone is, right? I’ll say two things to that. First, copy, realize you’re never selling coaching. It’s basic copy 101, but you’re not selling the plane, you’re selling the vacation. So many coaches speak coaching on their website. They just do coach speak, and no one cares. They ignore it, and they leave.

Chris Badgett:
I just want to give a quick example. I got some coaching from a guy who went through Taki Moore’s program, and he helped soft our entrepreneurs at my stage scale. And that’s exactly what happened. I went in there to scale my company, not necessarily get coaching, but that’s what it was.

Jason Gracia:
That’s exactly right. You have to sell what people are buying. They are not buying coaching, and that hurts coaches. A lot of coaches feel like “It’s me.” It’s not you. You have nothing to do with what they’re after. They want the better life, the better body, the better marriage. That’s what you sell. So when it comes to copy, you speak to their problems and their dreams, pain and pleasure, not what you do. We don’t sell websites. We don’t speak page optimization. We don’t speak to speed up the load. No one cares about that, really. They want clients. They want to change lives. So that would be the copy approach. Make sure that you’re selling to the pain and the pleasure. As far as getting out of the crowded market, you need to brand everything you can. Don’t say, “I’m a life coach.” Say, “I’m the creator of the XYZ coaching program.”

Jason Gracia:
Don’t say that “I offer a free session.” Say that “I offer the XYZ strategy call.” So the more that you can name and brand what you do, you pluck yourself right out the ocean, and people realize, “I can’t get this anywhere, because this is the only place where I can find this program that does it this way.” That’s really what you want to do. So you don’t want to tell people you’re a coach. You don’t want to tell people that you do coaching. What you can say is, “I have this program, and here’s what we help you do.” So if you want to scale your software business, I wouldn’t say, “I’m a coach.” I would say, “You got a software business that you want to scale? You’re exactly the people I help, and here’s how I do it.”

Chris Badgett:
That’s awesome. Just to land this plane here… And Jason, thank you. You’ve been a treasure trove of information, good ideas here. You mentioned that having the ability, having a market, and having passion is important. What makes you so passionate about the coaching industry or working with coaches?

Jason Gracia:
This is a great wrap-up question, because it really gets to the core of why I do what I do. And I remember where I was in my house, dealing with cancer, realizing that it’s always been me, me, me, me. I wrote the books. I created the courses. I did the coaching. I had my face everywhere. And what I realized was that made me feel good at first, being that center of the attention, but if I wanted to help as many people as possible, I needed to help the helpers. So I realized I want to be a springboard. There’s nothing wrong a personal brand at all. It’s fantastic if you do it right with integrity. But what I realized was if I really want to reach more people, if I could be a springboard to coaches, then I would play a small part in the success that the coach has with all of their clients.

Jason Gracia:
So instead of working with, say, 10 people, I can work with 10 coaches who then go on to work with 100 people. And that really spoke to me at that moment in my life, it still does, where if I can help a coach figure this part of their business out, I then play a tiny role in all the people they go on to help. And so I just love that ripple effect of making a bigger difference with the time I have. Because after cancer, you realize in a day, everything changes, and there’s no guarantees. And so I wanted to make as big of impact as I could as quickly as I could, and so I became the springboard for coaches who want to change lives. That’s where my passion comes from and keeps me going.

Chris Badgett:
Wow, that’s awesome. That’s Jason Gracia. You can find him at swyftsites.com. That’s S-W-Y-F-T sites.com. Also, check out his guide on the website, The 5 Things Your Coaching Website Can’t Go Without. Jason, thanks for coming on the show. Any final words for the people?

Jason Gracia:
I would say anyone who is thinking about doing anything like this in our world, do it. It is so worth the experience. And if you have something in you that you think can be shared and improve the lives of others, I can just tell you through personal experience, and I’m sure you can too, it is so worth the effort. It is so worth the risk, because the worst thing is to have this in you and then just think about it until there’s no chance. You got to go for it. So that’s what I always want to say at the end of these at these interviews. If you’re on the fence, you can figure everything out. All of the fears you have, there is a way through. People have done it, but you got to take that first step. And so whatever idea’s in your head, give it legs, because it’s worth it, and you have no idea where it can take you. And so it’s always worth it to take that risk and to bring life to the ideas that are in your head.

Chris Badgett:
Awesome, Jason. Thanks so much. We really appreciate it.

Jason Gracia:
Ah, thank you so much. Chris, it was great being here.

Chris Badgett:
And that’s a wrap for this episode of LMScast. Did you enjoy that episode? Tell your friends, and be sure to subscribe so you don’t miss the next episode. And I’ve got a gift for you over at lifterlms.com/gift. Go to lifterlms.com/gift. Keep learning, keep taking action, and I’ll see you in the next episode.

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