How I turned my Online Course into a Group Coaching class

How I turned my Online Course into a Group Coaching class

We had just sold the business that I co-founded (MaxCDN) and I moved from LA to Bodrum Turkey. My wife wanted to move back to Germany where we are from, but I could not bring myself to living in German weather conditions again 🙂

I was on a sabbatical thinking about what to do next and I decided I wanted to do something that helps people to reach their full potential, so I decided to create an online course ManagingHappiness. I used a friend Till’s company Course Concierge who produced a super high-end video online course and I started selling the course online. 

The completion rates of online courses SUCK

One thing that really drove me CRAZY was that only 7% of the people who purchased my course completed it. It was really depressing… I thought “man, my course must really suck!” Until I found out that this is actually the norm. On average the completion rate of online courses is under 10%.

I could have said, screw it. They’ve paid for it, it’s not my problem if they complete the course or not.. Don’t get me wrong, I like money, but my main goal was to help people achieve their desired outcome. 

There had to be a better way of doing this! I started teaching a group of 8 people my ManagingHappiness concept in a Mastermind format via zoom calls. I was blown away by how well this group coaching thing worked. The completion rate went from 7% of my course to 94% once I switched to group coaching. 

Why Group Coaching works!

Online Courses: As mentioned above, online courses are great but most people buy them, feel good about themselves, watch the first view modules, and then quit. 

One on one coaching: Works great but the problem is that it does not scale and it is very expensive for the coachee. 

Group Coaching: For argument’s sake, you get 10 people in a group and meet with them 1 hour per week for 8 hours. Everybody pays you $1000. You make $1250 per hour teaching.

Positive peer pressure 

It works like a charm! When you are in a group, you do not want to be the one who is dropping the ball. We all want to live up to our commitments, especially when others are watching 🙂

There was a study conducted at the Dominican University of California, that included 5 groups of people. It was based on the empirical evidence of the importance and effectiveness of 4 basic success principles:

  1. Thinking about the goals
  2. Writing down the goals
  3. Sharing goals with friends
  4. Having an accountability buddy and sharing progress with them

Each group followed different principles for accomplishing their goals. As you can see in the table below, the group that followed all of them, one of which is sharing their progress with an accountability buddy had the most success in achieving their goals – over 70% of the goals that they set for themselves.

group coaching statistics

Things that amazed me about group coaching

  1. After the program finished the participants wanted to continue meeting, even though I as the coach dropped out on a bi-weekly or monthly schedule. I have not monetized this, but there is an opportunity for sure. 
  2. People wanted to start their own groups teaching my content and now I have people spreading my Managing Happiness concept to others and I make a licensing fee from every group that is started. 
  3. People joined and paid for the group coaching again because they got so much value from it. 
  4. It’s amazing networking and community, I hired a few participants and started a business with one of them.

Setting up a system for success (The tools I used )

To give you some more context, in my course I’m showing people how to define their Personal Mission, Vision, Core Values, and action plan for the next 90 days, 1 year etc. And the habits they want to cultivate so they are able to reach their goals. 

Delivering Content: I created a hybrid video and in-person course. My idea was, I send my group coaching participants this week’s module videos via email and assigned them some homework. This way we save a lot of time. I do not have to say the same thing over and over again and we have more time to discuss things in our session together, versus me talking all the time. 

Delivering Content

Agendas: To guarantee that the meetings are structured, we implemented this agenda.

group coaching agenda

Here a link to the google doc in case you want to use this Agenda.

Habit Tracker: To track the participants’ habits we created this simple habit tracker in google sheets.

group coaching habit tracker

Here a link to the google doc in case you want to use this very basic habit tracker.

For the worksheets, where people added their Vision, Mission Values, we also used google docs.

worksheet - Vision, Mission Values

You can download the North Star template here.

Our meetings were held via Zoom, but Google Meet works just as well, and for each group, we created a WhatsApp group. There is a cool feature in WA which allows you to invite people via a link to the group. Saves you a lot of back and forth. 

Another problem was scheduling the time for group coaching and collecting the payments. Calendly works very well for this. You can create the available times in Calendly, set how many people are max allowed in the group, and even collect the payment.

Taking it to the next level! Building our own solution from scratch. 

The system worked pretty well but there were a few flaws. 

It took me a lot of time to set up another group, following up with people, sharing and creating all the documents. Getting people to use the habit tracker on a regular basis etc. 

To solve this we decided to build an app around this and it worked wonders. No more admin work for me and the engagement and participation went up significantly.

Check out this video on how you can turn your online course into a group coaching program:


Adding group coaching to your online course offering makes a lot of sense. You really impact people’s lives because now they actually get the results they are looking for and can make some serious money with little time investment. 
If you have any questions please leave a comment below and if you want to try out UpCoach you can click here to sign up for a 30-day free trial!

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David Henzel
I’m CEO of UpCoach and a serial entrepreneur. I’m passionate about helping entrepreneurs and executives to find success and harmony in business and in life.
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