I didn't have a well-formed prediction of who might hire me when I first hung out my shingle. But some patterns have begun to emerge in the past 6 months, and I'm taking a moment here to think about my clientele so far (n=12) .
The most obvious trend is that my clients are mostly male so far (3 to 1 ratio).
I have a few hypotheses about why philosophical life coaching might appeal largely to men:
- Men might have less of an outlet for talking about themselves in their regular lives than women (c.f. Men Have No Friends and Women Bear the Burden, except I'm helping to "bear the burden" for money)
- Men are less likely to seek mental health treatment than women. Although, as a coach, I cannot ethically accept clients who are in need of professional mental health care, I may attract some of the grey area clients who would have otherwise taken their conversational needs to a licensed therapists.
- Men might be less interested in talking about emotions per se than women, and believe (correctly) that I have a different orientation towards emotions, their justifiability, and what to do with them than regular counselors & coaches.
Highly educated, mostly in STEM professions
My clients are highly-educated (all hold college degrees, many graduate degrees). And while I'm not really at liberty to offer examples, a clear majority of them work in a STEM field (though lots of variation within that category).
This is a little counterintuitive. I would have expected lots of former liberal arts majors, working in the various and sundry fields that absorb them.
n.b. please do not be put off if you're a prospective client with no degree, I welcome all backgrounds if we're otherwise a good fit
What brings clients to philosophical life coaching?
Each of my 12 clients to date has a very specific story. But when I force myself to group them into rough categories, here's what I generate:
JUST WANT TO TALK:
There are some people out there who just kind of want to talk in a way that doesn't present itself in ordinary life. For the reasons I outlined back in my theory of Ritualized Conversations, paying someone to talk to you gives the conversation a certain focused, uncomplicated character that you don't often stumble across in ordinary life.
This kind of client is familiar with what therapists has to offer and doesn't need and/or doesn't want that kind of approach to speaking with someone about his/her life. In sessions, we just roll with whatever has happened recently, whatever that brings up about the past or future, and so on.
REAL DEEP STUFF:
some of my clients very specifically want to discuss something super deep, abstract, and/or explicitly philosophical. What do I know? (Do I know anything?) How can I improve myself while keeping in mind the hard limits circumscribed by my genetics? I thought I knew my life's purpose, but I'm no longer sure. Now what? This is the kind of client I most expected to attract.
As I've had more and more calls with people, it slowly dawned on me that I'd become an odd sort of de facto productivity coach. I'll write more about this later, but to make a long story short: productivity tactics tend to assume that your goals are relatively clear and stable. Then, the productivity system takes these goals as inputs and offers strategies for reaching them.
But people's goals are not clear, stable, non-contradictory, emotionally comfortable, or anything! And goals can and should be re-evaluated periodically. I'm the right person to talk to in order to clarify what one's goals can or should be in the first place, and once my clients are working with me I become the right person to help them chunk the process down, assign "homework," and provide accountability, too. This is the type of client that surprised me the most! Yet the productivity coaching is also surprisingly rewarding.
Marketing philosophical life coaching is hard because it doesn't really have a demographic!
The first rule of marketing, especially as a solopreneur, is to niche down.
I do have a niche: smart people who want, even need, to think deeply about their own lives - but who have stalled out at how much clarity they can find while doing this alone.
However, this niche is not at all like "30-something moms who want to lose the baby weight" or whatever. My niche is not even even sort of coextensive with a demographic, or something readily observable, or any specific place online or offline.
My marketing moving forward
Several of my clients so far have come from my extended social network, acquaintances from the distant past. This has been delightful! I hope some more acquaintances come out of the woodwork to work with me in the future.
Every single one of my clients who was previously a stranger found me on Twitter. This puts me in a bit of a tough spot!
I sometimes think I'd like to reduce how much time I spend using social media apps on my phone. But, if Twitter especially is a great source of leads, then I should keep using it and also shed the guilt.
Previously: Notes from 6 Months of Being In Business
Pamela J. Hobart - Philosophical Life Coaching Newsletter
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