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  • Writer's pictureLhorie Salvador

Online Course vs Coaching: Which is better?

Thinking of taking an online course? Read this before you invest in something you might regret.


This is what we’ll cover in this article:


Online Course or Coaching?

online course or coaching

Today, I want to talk to you about Online Courses vs. 1:1 Coaching and how to decide which one you should invest in. Because, let's face it, neither is cheap. To make sure you get the best value for your money, and to avoid any regrets from choosing one over the other, I'm here to share some insights between the two. This way, you can avoid making the same mistake I did.


When you're passionate about turning an idea into a business, the first step is often research. Thankfully, you can find just about everything online these days. However, for those of us looking for a detailed, step-by-step guide to kickstart or expand our business, buying an online course seems like the go-to option. It's a path many of us take because it's more wallet-friendly compared to private coaching. 


That was my starting point too. I expected, or rather hoped, that my investment in an online course would give me all the answers. Unfortunately, I learned the hard way that it’s not always the case, especially after investing a hefty sum into various courses. Don't get me wrong; I did gain valuable information, but it was mostly general knowledge. What I needed for my unique business challenges wasn’t covered.


I want to make it clear: I'm not saying online courses are ineffective or a waste of time. Quite the contrary, I've enrolled in courses that hit the nail on the head, providing exactly what I needed. The real trick lies in understanding when to opt for an online course and when to seek out 1:1 coaching, as each has its own set of benefits and drawbacks. So, the question remains: how do you decide where to put your investment?


What is an Online Course?


online courses and classes

Signing up for an online course means:

  • Gaining access to a members-only platform filled with modules and lessons designed for you to work through at your own pace. 

  • There’s no rush to complete anything by a certain deadline.

  • In many cases, you'll have lifetime access. This means that even 5 years down the line, if you're looking for a refresher, you can revisit the material—assuming, of course, that the provider is still around.


Within these modules and lessons, you can expect to find a mix of:

  • Video tutorials or presentations

  • Downloadable PDFs

  • Worksheets as prompts for you to do on your own. 


From my journey through roughly 12 online courses, I've seen this pattern consistently: each one featured pre-recorded videos and worksheets.


What are the Pros and Cons of Online Courses?


THE PROS OF ONLINE COURSES:


  1. Flexibility: The beauty of online courses lies in their convenience - it’s online and self-paced. As long as you have a computer and Wi-Fi, you can log into the course and start learning. You can access the course at 3:00 am in the morning if you feel like it and you can do it from anywhere. As long as you have a computer and internet connection, you’re good to go.

  2. Cost-Effective: This one can be a bit of a mixed bag. I've enrolled in courses that offered incredible value, feeling like I got a steal. Then there have been others where I was left thinking I might as well have thrown my money out the window.  Prices for online courses can swing wildly, from $200 to $2500 and sometimes even more. Generally, you do get what you pay for. So, a $50 course likely won't pack the same punch as a $2500 one.  It's worth noting that when I talk about online courses, I mean comprehensive programs with multiple modules and lessons, not just a single online class you can breeze through in a week.  While the initial price tag of an online course might seem steep, they often present a more cost-effective option compared to traditional college courses or private coaching.

  3. Wide Range of Topics: One of the standout features of online courses is the extensive range of  information they cover. Take, for instance, a course I took on transitioning from employee to entrepreneur. It wasn't just a narrow focus; the course provided insights on business models, crafting lead magnets, compiling offers, conducting target market research, and much more. 


Similarly, another course aimed at building your email list didn't stop at the basics—it delved into content creation, scheduling, and even technical tutorials on setting up your email list. This comprehensive approach means you're not just learning about a single topic but gaining a wealth of related knowledge that amplifies the value of the course.


THE CONS OF ONLINE COURSES:


  1. One-Size-Fits-All Approach: Online courses are designed to cater to a broad audience, allowing anyone to enroll at any time. This means that a single course might have dozens of students, each with unique goals and needs. While these courses focus on a particular topic, they often provide only general information.  For instance, in my experience with the "Employee to Entrepreneur" course, I found the content informative but not tailored enough to my specific needs. Among my fellow students was a relationship coach, while I focus on business coaching—two areas with vastly different target markets. A common piece of advice like “create content that resonates with your target audience” can feel vague without examples or guidance tailored to your specific situation.  Moreover, the lack of personalized feedback or someone to consult for improvements can leave you questioning if you're on the right track. This highlights a significant gap in the online course experience: the absence of direct support or customization for individual learner's challenges.  Which leads into the next disadvantage:

  2. Limited Interaction: A common shortfall of online courses is the absence of 1:1 support. While some courses might offer access to a private Facebook group for student interaction, the level of engagement and feedback you receive can be minimal. These platforms allow you to connect with the course creator and fellow students, yet the interactions often lack depth.  For example, when I sought feedback on my content in one of these groups, the responses were limited to general approvals like “looks good” or simple corrections such as “there’s a typo in the first paragraph.” Not helpful! This experience underlines the challenge of getting detailed, constructive feedback that can truly help refine and improve your work.

  3. Self-Discipline Required: Online courses aren't like high school—there's no teacher to monitor your every move or to reprimand you for missing a class. The responsibility to attend lessons, complete assignments, and apply what you've learned consistently falls entirely on you. If you're not disciplined enough to hold yourself accountable, you risk wasting the investment you've made into the course. It's crucial to approach these courses with a commitment to actively engage and implement the teachings if you want to see real value from your expenditure.


It's essential to approach online courses with clear expectations. While they can offer a vast array of information and the convenience of learning at your own pace, they may not always provide the personalized guidance or specific insights one might find through 1:1 coaching or more targeted learning paths.


What is Coaching?


one-on-one meeting

Coaching is precisely as it sounds—private coaching sessions tailored to you, offering direct, real-time guidance from your coach. You can have these coaching sessions online or face-to-face if you're nearby and the coach is up for it, making it super adaptable to whatever works best for you.


Typically, meetings last about an hour and can be scheduled weekly, bi-weekly, or even monthly, depending on the structure of the coaching program.


For instance, in my own experience, I engaged in a coaching arrangement that included a 1-hour private session each month for six months. These sessions were invaluable, allowing me to discuss various aspects of my business and receive immediate, actionable feedback. Additionally, my coach offered bi-monthly group sessions, facilitated by a diverse team of professionals, covering topics from marketing to financial strategy and even intuitive business insights. This mix of private and group sessions provided a well-rounded support system.


When considering coaching, it's crucial to research and connect with potential coaches to ensure their approach and values align with yours. Most coaches give a free first call to make sure you and they click, which is a great chance to see if they're the right fit for what you need. Remember, the relationship with your coach is foundational to the success of the coaching process, so finding someone whose values resonate with yours is key.


What are the Pros and Cons of Coaching?


THE PROS OF COACHING:


  1. Personalized Attention: With coaching, you get answers and feedback that are directly applicable to you and your business. I've experienced this firsthand with my business coach, who blends coaching and consulting.  Here’s a quick breakdown for clarity: Coaching helps you reach your personal or professional goals through self-discovery, whereas Consulting gives you expert advice to tackle specific business challenges. What’s great about this mix is the tailored advice and feedback you receive, aimed at your unique business needs and goals. Take, for instance, two of my clients: one is a certified esthetician looking to boost her business's operations, and the other is a relationship coach aiming for business growth by boosting her business’s operations. Although their goal is the same—to boost operational efficiency—the approach and advice I offer each of them vary significantly. This is due to differences in their target markets, brand identities, growth ambitions, available resources, and what they're comfortable pursuing. This level of customization is what you can expect from coaching, ensuring the guidance you receive is as unique as your business.

  2. Accountability: Having a coach means you've got an accountability partner. This person isn't just there to keep you on track; they're your cheerleader, ready to push you through tough spots and celebrate your successes with you. Being a solopreneur can feel isolating, not to mention the rollercoaster of highs and lows. It's a game-changer to have someone with more knowledge and experience by your side, offering guidance and support when you need it most.

  3. Rapid Problem-Solving: While my formal coaching sessions are monthly, that doesn't limit my communication with my coach to just those meetings. In fact, reaching out for advice or feedback in between our scheduled sessions is something I do regularly, at least once a week. Many coaches offer similar accessibility, allowing you to contact them through email, text, or even Voxer, which is increasingly popular. Whether I'm facing a tough decision, need a review of my content, or am feeling overwhelmed, I know I can count on her to respond within 24 hours. This kind of support means I'm never stuck for long, helping me to keep moving forward.


THE CONS OF COACHING:


  1. Cost: Coaching doesn't come cheap, and that's because you're paying for personalized, expert attention. Think of it like hiring a coach who could train you for the Olympics—it's an investment in reaching your pinnacle, whatever your goals. Prices for this kind of coaching can vary widely, from $1,000 to a staggering $200,000. The top-tier prices are for the elite in the field—the Beyoncé of coaches, if you will. However, if you're just starting out or run a small business, there are plenty of options in the four to five-figure range. This investment typically covers their services for a set period, usually between 3 to 12 months.

  2. Time Commitment: Scheduling coaching sessions means carving out time from your busy schedule in advance. Both you and your coach’s time are valuable, so last-minute changes aren’t ideal, like rescheduling an hour before your appointment time. Sure, you can still do that, but be prepared that it might come with an extra fee for late cancellation. It’s worth getting clarity on these details early on, something you can easily bring up during your initial consultation call with a coach.

  3. Finding the Right Match: Finding the right coach takes effort, much like searching and hiring a key player for your team. You wouldn't rush to hire based on the first resume or interview, and the same goes for selecting a coach. It's essential to sift through options—checking their websites, social media, and the specifics of what their coaching packages include.


The initial consultation call is a prime opportunity to gauge whether there's a good fit. Feeling a personal connection and being confident in their ability to fulfill their promises are both critical. The right blend of rapport and expertise is key to a fruitful coaching relationship.


What are the key factors to determine which one is best for you?


  1. Your Challenges: Deciding between an online course and coaching boils down to the nature of your challenge. If you're looking to nail down your niche, an online course might suffice. But if you're trying to make your business run smoother and more efficiently, you'll probably need the tailored help that coaching offers. This is because the tools you use and your operational procedures are unique to your business. You'd benefit from someone experienced to closely examine and optimize your systems and processes. So, the choice between online courses and coaching hinges on the specific challenges you're trying to overcome.

  2. Your Learning Style: Do you learn best with one-on-one attention, enjoy being part of a team, or prefer to tackle things solo at your own speed? For instance, a course I took didn't quite click for me; I personally did not feel that it helped me achieve my goal but it worked for other people. It really comes down to how you learn best.

  3. Your Business Stage: Where is your business at? If you're just stepping into entrepreneurship with a brand-new venture, online courses that cover the basics could be really useful. However, if you're dealing with a specific issue or plan to make some major changes, the tailored advice from coaching might be what you need.


Ultimately, there's no one-size-fits-all answer. The perfect solution varies from person to person. Take your time to weigh the pros and cons, and all the key factors, before deciding where to put your money. Sometimes, an online course might be the smart, budget-friendly choice. But if you're after advice that's cut just for you, coaching could be the way to go.



 

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That's a wrap!

I hope this deep dive has shed some light on a topic many of us wrestle with. If you've found these insights valuable, subscribe to my newsletter below for tips delivered straight to your inbox. And don't hesitate to explore the related articles below for even more guidance. 


As always, your feedback is invaluable. Reach out on social media or click HERE to share your thoughts, questions, or topics you'd like to explore in future articles.


Remember, cultivating a positive and success mindset is an ongoing process. So stay consistent, stay intentional, and keep chasing after those dreams. Thank you for tuning in. Until next time.


Cheers!

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