Wendy McCallum (00:00.342)
Hi there, welcome back to The Coaching Edge. I'm your host, Wendy McCallum. I am glad to be back. I'm actually recording this now after the Christmas holidays, which I think for many of us coaches, it's a tough thing to negotiate because you're running a small business by yourself, but you're also trying to manage all the extra responsibilities, duties, socializing of the holiday season. So...
I'm feeling a little bit like I think many of my coaches are in the BBB anyway, which is my business building bootcamp. We had a bunch of people in there who are feeling a little bit burnt out now. I'm just trying to get their mojo back to get started in January. So this is my first recording since the, since 2023. And I wanted to talk about something today that I have used many, many times and I recommend to all of the coaches that I support as a really great way to start your first group.
So this episode is really for anybody who is coaching one-on-one and starting to think about the possibility of a group coaching program down the road, which I think is a great idea, by the way. And so what I'm talking about here is like, I think it's a really great, simple vehicle for creating a group without a lot of work, of the work that usually is involved in creating a program.
and then selling it, just selling it out to your general audience. So what I wanna talk about today is something called back end memberships. Back end memberships are really just small coaching groups that you sell on the back end of a one-on-one program. Now, when you first started as a coach, you probably aren't gonna have very many one-on-one clients. It's gonna take a while to build that practice. That is totally normal. But once you get to the place where you have a number of one-on-one clients who are
wrapping up with you in their one-on-one program or who have recently wrapped up with you in a one-on-one program, that can be a really great time to offer a community or a group to them. And there are so many reasons why this works really well. First of all, those people have already built Like No Trust with you. They've been working with you one-on-one. They love you. They think you're a fantastic coach. And they're basically an extremely warm audience for anything that you have to sell next, right? Those are the people who are like your biggest fans.
Wendy McCallum (02:22.134)
and are always gonna be in the lineup for whatever the next product is or course that you are offering. And so it's a really easy sell. So that's the first thing that's really great, I think about the idea of a backend membership. The second piece of it is that you can curate this community. So it can be by invitation only, and you can, because you have spent so much time with these people in the one-on-one coaching,
you'll know who's a good fit for this group and who's not. And you can sort of curate a really terrific small community. It doesn't have to be small. Mine are always intimate. I think an intimate coaching community works really well as a backend membership because those clients are accustomed to that intimacy in the one-on-one. And I also think you can charge more for a smaller coaching experience in a group. So...
Those two things are really, I think, the biggest upsides to it. It's much easier to sell than just going out and trying to sell to the general to the general audience that you have on social media or your newsletter list, because these people know, like and trust you already and are looking for something else. They're looking for continued support. The second piece of it is that you can really curate this community and you can create a really connected
group with just a really great vibe and lots of engagement. And that's really awesome as a coach, right? And it's great for your clients as well. So let me talk through like a couple of ways that I've done this. I started experimenting with this when I started coaching in the world of drinking less, getting free from alcohol and burnout for women. And I had, in my first year of coaching around alcohol, I had...
a lot of one-on-one clients. My practice was really busy, really fast. Now I want to just remind everybody that I had been coaching for seven or eight years already by that point. So I had an existing base and there was a real need for this type of coaching. So it was relatively easy for me to fill my one-on-one practice with these clients. So I worked with many, many women over the course of that first year one-on-one.
Wendy McCallum (04:37.99)
And what I realized was the piece for them that was missing was the community piece. And that's not something that I can provide as a one-on-one coach. They could go get that elsewhere. But a lot of my clients, and I think that this is the case, no matter what topic you are coaching around or what life challenge you're coaching around, if it's something that feels personal to them and a little bit private, then very often in the beginning, one-on-one coaching is...
seems far more accessible for people. They're not really interested in going directly into a group setting and talking about this thing that they're struggling with. Certainly that's the case with alcohol. And so being able to create on the backend of those one-on-one coaching relationships, a community or group worked really, really well because the women were, by the time they finished coaching with me, whether that was 12 sessions or 24 sessions, depending on the person, when they were ready to...
dial back on the one-on-one coachings. They were just doing really well and they had kind of gotten their legs under them and were feeling a lot more confident about living alcohol-free. They were craving that community piece. They really wanted that. And they wanted to stay in touch with me because they now really trusted me and really appreciated the support that I was able to give them as a coach. So what I did, and this is what I recommend you do if you're thinking about this, is I didn't start the group right away.
So I started a wait list for my one-on-one clients. I started talking about the idea of a potential community with them while I was coaching with them one-on-one and before the community had actually launched. And I just was gauging interest. Would you be interested in that? If you were interested in that, what would you like that to look like? How often would you want to meet? I started canvassing my existing clients who were the avatar clients for this program for their feedback on what it was they were actually looking for
working with me one-on-one, which you've heard me say this before on the podcast, and I'll keep saying, I think this is like the key to creating successful programming and being successful as a coach is like actually asking people who you want to support what the thing is they need support with the most. Right. So I asked them what they wanted to ask them, how often they would like to meet. I even talked to them about the pricing of that and what would seem reasonable for them and how big of a group they'd be interested in, in being with, and who they would like to, who else they would like to see in that group.
Wendy McCallum (07:00.55)
And eventually I had enough people on the wait list that I was pretty sure that I could start a program with group coaching. We decided on once a week, I called it happier hour, and we would do it once a week and see how, basically just to see how it went. So I started it as a beta, again, something I always recommend every single time you launch something new for the first time, try it as a beta first.
Just labeling it as a beta gives you a bunch of leeway as a coach to change it, to change the pricing, to change the way that you offer it, to not do it again, to learn, this is the most important thing, learn what works and what doesn't work, and to tweak the program to make it better and better. So I offered it as a beta. Now, one thing I would recommend is that when you're starting something like this, that you don't do it month to month.
from the get-go. So whenever I start a group program like this, I always have a six-month minimum commitment. It doesn't have to be six months. You could do something less. You could do three months. But for me, six months means that I know that the program is gonna be a going concern for at least six months. And that gives me time to be bringing other people in through continued marketing of the group. So with this back-end membership idea, I had everybody commit to six months.
at the start. So all the beta members of this group paid for six months in advance of the group. And what that did was give me the confidence that I could keep marketing this group to other one-on-one clients that I worked with over those six months and bring them in slowly so that by the time the six months were up, if there were people in the group who were ready to fly the coop, I had new people that were ready to replace them. And I did that program for
I'd say that beta ran for about a year and it was really, really successful. I now have two backend memberships effectively. One is an official backend membership in that it's not advertised anywhere on my website and you only get into it by invitation and it is only for people that I've worked with one-on-one. And then I have another group that is kind of a combination of a backend membership and a regular group coaching program. So,
Wendy McCallum (09:22.198)
I'll talk to you a little bit about how those two things work. The one that is the full back end membership is really, it's a place for me, it's a way for me to offer continued support to coaching clients who I really love working with and who I think would be a great fit for community and who really would benefit from that community coaching, that group coaching situation. And honestly, it's just an easy way to keep a client.
you know, keep a paying client. And I feel good about it because the price, obviously the cost of the group program is quite a bit less than working with me one-on-one. And so it feels like a really great offer at the end of a 12 session coaching program or longer as the case may be. So a couple more things about these back end memberships. A wait list is a great idea, like I said, so.
If you're thinking about starting one of these now, start canvassing your existing clients. Would you be interested in that type of thing when you're finished coaching with me? And if so, what would you want that to look like? You can start gathering that information and you can also put people on a wait list. Would you like me to put you on a wait list and I'll let you know when I do get to a point where I'm ready to offer that. And then that way you can offer it when you have like a critical mass of people and you know that you're going to have enough people in the group to have it make sense for you from a financial perspective.
There's nothing wrong with starting a group small, by the way. You're getting paid for your time and it feels like a good investment of your time, even though you're not getting paid maybe as much as you would normally get paid to coach a group, because you have fewer members right now. If you know that there's gonna be really great momentum and room to grow that group. But I always wait until I know I'm gonna make an amount of money from the group coaching that feels really good to me. So the wait list is a good way to...
set yourself up for success with that. And then another idea, and this is something that I've done now, I have two, both of my group memberships are partnered. So that means that I work with a coach somewhere else. And this is a really great idea, especially if you're a new coach and you have a smaller audience and a smaller practice. Because filling any kind of group is hard, but this type of a backend membership requires
Wendy McCallum (11:45.642)
a lot of one-on-one clients, right? And I wanted something in the backend membership that felt like easy peasy, which is really how both my memberships feel in that I didn't want to have the pressure of always having to be marketing this thing and getting people into it. And I really did want it to be curated in that I am inviting people that feel like a really great fit for these communities. And the only way to do that for me was to partner with somebody else who also had a group of...
who are looking for this type of support and who was a really good fit for me. So if you are gonna partner, there are so many things that go into partnerships. And if I haven't done a podcast episode on that, I will. I think I have on partnerships and all the various things that you need to think about. I don't know if that one's been published yet. Partnerships are complicated, but if you've got somebody and you have an overlapping avatar, so.
you look at their demographic that they serve, and you look at the demographic that you serve as a coach, and there are lots of things in common with that group, then it might be somebody that it makes sense to think about partnering with. Assuming all the other pieces are in place, including that you really like working with this coach, your philosophies of coaching are aligned, you think this coach will be a great fit for your client base, and you have worked out the details from a business perspective
joint program is going to work, then it can be a really great way to keep a group full enough and just to take that pressure off of you to be always marketing, always trying to find people to put into this group. I didn't ever want to be in a position where it felt like I was offering a group to somebody who actually didn't need it because I just needed group members. That just feels totally unethical to me and I would never do that. This partnership that I have with another coach allows me to do that.
to offer the group program to someone who is A, a great fit for it and somebody that I love coaching, but also who I really truly believe will benefit from continued support and from the group dynamic and the community. And that is only available to me because of the fact that it's partnered. And so we are both, both me and my partner are bringing members into this group on the regular, which allows it to stay dynamic and engaged.
Wendy McCallum (14:07.706)
but does take that pressure off to be constantly thinking about trying to fill it. So it becomes really the type of group that almost fills itself and is very easy to sell and is very easy to keep going. And it's really a stream of revenue that's sort of between active and passive in that there's not a lot of marketing that has to happen. You obviously have to show up and coach, but it can be really, really low key. Like I've...
I've certainly had back-end memberships where I've provided new content as part of the back-end membership. So like a new lesson every week or a master class every month, you can do it that way. But you can also do these back-end memberships with absolutely no new recorded formal content. It can just be the community, the meeting every week. And the two groups that I run are like that. There isn't new content that's being created. So.
There's no pressure for me to be doing any content creation in relation to these. The other, obviously on the partnership side of things, the other awesome thing about that is that I don't have to coach every week. So I'm only coaching twice a month, which makes it easier for me to keep my coaching rate for group, for the group hours at what I normally would make when coaching groups, which should be more than you make.
coaching individuals guys like it should you should be pricing your group program such that you're actually making more money on an hourly basis coaching the group than you are when you coach individuals that's not to say your individual rates should be too low that's a whole other topic but I always have the expectation when I'm coaching a group that I'm making more an hour for that group than I would be if I was just coaching one of those people on their own and by only coaching twice a month for example in this group that actually
Wendy McCallum (15:59.578)
much more likely to hit that number. So it takes that pressure off. So for all of those reasons, I wanted to come in and talk about back-end memberships and just offer it up to you as a vehicle for trying out a group program. Creating a group program from scratch and selling it to non-alumni, so people that you haven't worked with yet one-on-one, just selling it out there to the...
to your general audience is really challenging. There are so many steps involved in that. You're gonna have to do a lot of promotion. You're gonna have to launch it. You're gonna have to do a bunch of content creation. And so there's so much more involved in that than in this back end membership idea. So it's just a really great way to fill a group, make some extra continued revenue as a coach, and also learn how to coach groups, which is a skill on its own.
And this is such a safe place to test that, right? So these people already like you. They're not gonna leave you. They are your biggest fans. And so coaching in a group context with people that you already know, it doesn't feel scary like it does sometimes to coach a brand new group for the first time. So I think for all of those reasons, this is just something to consider. And I think a backend membership can work with any group, any type of coaching that you do.
I've done them in relation to the burnout coaching that I do for women. I've done them in relation to alcohol. I think you could do them in relation to business coaching programs. You could do them in relation to just about any topic of coaching. And and it would work very, very well. So it's a short podcast episode today, but I just wanted to introduce this topic. And I would love to know what you think about this. Is this something you've thought of before? If you've heard of this.
I call them back-end memberships. There are probably other names for them, alumni memberships, maybe continuing support groups. Is this something that you might try or that you have been thinking about or that you have tried? I would love to hear back from you. And just a reminder before we go that if you're not following me yet on Instagram, you can follow me at Wendy McCallum Coach. I'd love to have you there. And also...
Wendy McCallum (18:16.606)
If you are curious about the BBB, which is my business building bootcamp, we have regular open houses and you can attend one of those whenever the next one is offered, you can sign up for that. The form to register for the next open house is always on my main BBB page at wendymcallum.com forward slash BBB. Up at the top, it'll give you the details on when the next open house is, or you can just send me a message and I'll get you sorted on that. I would love to meet you. If you're thinking as you're listening to these podcast episodes, huh.
it would be helpful to have somebody that I could ask questions to, like Wendy, who's been around the block, who's been doing this for a long time, who seems to be pretty practical about her suggestions and realistic and things. And it would be really helpful to have that person to talk to, to run ideas by, to strategize with, and also to have a community of coaches who are in this solopreneurship thing, just like I am, who are facing the same challenges, who are learning the same lessons.
to actually commune with and talk to, then the BBB might just be the perfect thing for you. It is a combination of those two things, coaching, live coaching for me. I'm the only person who coaches the office hours. I don't bring in other coaches to do those unless I'm on a holiday or something. I coach those every week. We have two options for call times and you can attend one live and watch the replay for the other one. It's always me at those office hours calls. We also do a variety of other calls. All of that stuff is detailed on the page if you wanna go look at it.
but we have between 10 and 12 calls a month depending on what's happening. It's got all of those things and also has a really, really phenomenal content library that's organized by topics. So all of the different topics that are involved in building a small business as a coach are covered in that library. And you can work through that at your own pace. It is a one-year program to start. Most of my coaches stay on afterwards on a monthly membership basis.
I guess that's maybe an example of a backend membership, guys, what I'm talking about. We do that in the BBB. I hadn't really thought of it that way before, but that's kind of what it is. It's a way for them to stay in the group, stay in the program. So if you're interested in that, just go and check out the BBB page or just send me a message. Send me a message on social, send me an email message and let me know you'd like some more information. I would love to meet you, talk to you and support you as you build your resonance, sustainable, profitable.
Wendy McCallum (20:43.246)