Have you ever considered becoming a health and wellness coach as a side hustle or even a full-time gig?
If so, you should definitely check out today’s interview. Nicole from Gracefully Abundant has an inspiring story of going from almost incapacitated from a neurological condition, to almost completely resolving her health issues, to building a business to help others do the same.
Her story shows the importance of having a powerful “why” behind what you do, and her wellness coaching business not only supports her family with a very flexible schedule, but helps many people lead fuller and healthier lives.
As someone who also struggles with mystery autoimmune issues that doctors cannot diagnose, her story resonated with me in her path to healing and helping others.
Keep reading below to find out more about her story, including:
- how she went from barely able to walk to being almost completely healed
- how she shifted her mindset from giving free advice to making a living while also helping others
- her path to multiple six figures in revenue
- her advice for anyone who wants to get into health and wellness coaching
What Is a Health and Wellness Coach?
There are a lot of misconceptions about what a health and wellness coach does. According to WebMD, a wellness coach helps their clients find the motivation and tools to get to their physical and emotional health goals. Some example might be losing weight, eating better, quitting smoking, or lowering stress.
Many people think you need a medical degree to be a health and wellness coach, but unlike a nutritionist or physical therapist, they incorporate broad knowledge of many healthcare disciplines, but they do not give their clients professional nutritional or medical advice (unless they have the proper qualifications). Instead they provide tools and support to help their clients reach their own wellness goals.
With that definition out of the way, let’s get on to the interview!
How to Get Started With a Health and Wellness Coaching Business
Welcome Nicole, tell us a little bit about yourself.
My name is Nicole Graber. I’m a homeschooling mom, wife, serial entrepreneur, and Navy veteran currently living in Alabama enjoying the RV lifestyle. I’m a writer, entrepreneur, lifestyle coach, and business coach.
What is your side hustle?
My business is centered around helping families achieve a higher quality of life through simple lifestyle or business shifts that enable them to spend more time with their families, feel healthier and more energetic, and live with more purpose.
I specialize in helping wellness entrepreneurs diversify and simplify their businesses so they can enjoy what they do more, and stress less.
How did you decide to start a health and wellness coaching business?
My business actually started by accident but was motivated by a past encounter at a veterans hospital.
I was at the Rheumatology clinic of the veterans’ hospital being fitted for crutches (the kind that grips your upper arms) as a means to help me stay out of a wheelchair as much as possible. My autoimmune and neurological conditions had worsened to the point where I could barely stand for short periods of time and often fell while attempting to walk shorter distances.
During that visit, I saw a man at least 20 years older than me, strapped to a motorized stationary bike that moved his extremities for him as a means of exercise. I watched as a tear streamed down his cheek, and listened as he told me I reminded him of himself just 5 years ago.
That encounter shook me to my core. Nearly all my disabled veteran friends were amputees talking about their “other side of healing” being marathons and triathlons. My “other side” was overweight and immobile, which I found unacceptable.
I prayed hard that night, filled with tears, for the wisdom to give my body what it needed to heal, promising if I would heal and be able to actually live a life without constant pain and misery, that I would never stop sharing my story and be the inspiration to prove there can be an “other side” to living with complicated autoimmune and neurological disorders that didn’t equate to continued spiraling misery and worsening obesity before death.
A year later, I gained the confidence to try something new with a few simple lifestyle shifts that produced major results. The earth-shattering, life-changing results I just couldn’t keep to myself.
When friends reached out asking me what I was doing that caused rapid healing, I was floored. People noticed my social media posts talking about my seizures reducing from an average of 6 each day to 2 each week in just 30 days, cheering my posts sharing about finally being able to walk ⅛ mile unassisted after previously not even being able to walk up a flight of stairs or even across the house without requiring help.
It was an exciting healing journey, filled with new physical accomplishments. Finally when I reached my 6-month milestone of no seizures, migraines, stumbles, fainting spells, and other symptoms, I had a flood of requests asking what I was doing, and mentorship requests to help them.
With a steady flow of referrals and a new income strategy, a business was created.
Do you do wellness coaching full time or do you have a day job? How do you juggle priorities?
My coaching is done part-time. I do not have a typical day job, but I do homeschool two young children and navigate life as a military wife with all its challenges, frequent moves, and a very small local support system.
Everything with running a business and managing a family takes compromise, boundaries, and at times a bit of juggling.
To overcome the challenges of time constraints, I budget my time. When it’s time to do school with my kids, my attention is 100% dedicated to them. When they engage in independent play or sensory-related activities, I take calls, respond to messages, write, or navigate other business-related tasks.
We have a set routine so the kids know and understand what is expected. Working from home with the kids with me isn’t easy, but we’ve found our balance with it.
How and when did you get started as a health and wellness coach?
I started my health and wellness coaching business in 2014 while making less than $1,000 each month from my veteran disability income. That $974 monthly income didn’t even cover my living expenses, leaving me at the mercy of a few friends and increasing frustrations at the veterans’ hospital and local city for denying homeless services to help me. Investing in a business opportunity wasn’t an option for me.
I shared my story on social media, sparking a few friends to ask for help on their own journey to wellness and providing referrals to their friends and family who also needed help.
After a year of coaching a few friends and their referrals for free with great results, I realized that my mindset was severely limited by what was said during past employment interviews and past experiences. They were wrong… I had a lot of value to offer, and I didn’t need someone else to hire me for me to be successful and have professional meaning.
During that time providing free wellness coaching, I also mentored a few wellness coaches who approached me for support, helping them better communicate with their chronic health clients, and understand the mindset challenges that come with being chronically ill.
I was asked by one wellness coach why I wasn’t charging for my services and explained the value I had provided to her for free. She also mentioned if I didn’t want to charge for my coaching, to find products to recommend that I could make a commission through sales.
That conversation sparked a flood of ideas, showed me that I didn’t need someone to hire me to make an income, and proved to me I could still make a positive impact while ensuring my needs were met too.
Do you have a mentor, coach, or training you used to help you get started? If so, how did that help you?
At first, no. I didn’t know anyone who would be able to help, and after inquiring in a few business-related Facebook groups, I quickly realized that receiving free mentorship, coaching, and training weren’t options for me.
I did, however, previously complete a bachelor’s degree in business strategy and gained extensive skills in the military regarding research analysis, leadership, and mentorship that I used to help me pursue my goals.
After my first year, I did acquire a mentor. And a few years later I hired a business coach to help me launch courses to augment my blog.
How to Make Money with a Health and Wellness Coaching Side Hustle
How much money have you made in your wellness coaching business, and what can someone expect to make?
My business model is a bit different than most coaches, and brings in multiple 6-figures in revenue that translates to slightly under $80,000 in annual profit.
I do like to be affordable, helping the people who need my expertise the most, so I do provide individual and group coaching for free to my customers who are enrolled in one of my healthy lifestyle product subscription programs, which provides me with roughly 10% of product sales. This is the most popular option because there is a referral program where my clients can receive enough compensation to cover their expenses fairly quickly, enabling them to essentially receive my coaching for free.
For clients who do not order monthly products from me, I have a set monthly rate of $1,200 per month that includes unlimited email support and weekly calls for that month. I provide discounted rates for clients who sign up for 3 or 6-month packages.
For people who cannot afford my coaching programs, I offer discounted self-paced online course that contains most of my coaching topics. As I receive several of the same questions, I do update my online courses and resource center, which are provided to existing students. All my courses are also provided for my product customers at no additional cost.
In sales and coaching combined, I make $6-10,000 each month, which is not bad for maybe working 20 hours each week.
What are the costs involved in running your business?
I started with just my regular phone bill, talking to people on the phone or over Facebook video chat.
Since then, I’ve added a blog ($8 each year plus $35 each month for the domain and hosting), a learning portal ($690 one-time fee), email services ($29 each month), partnership commissions, and a few other small expenses that have been added over time, mostly one-time fees. Monthly, I spend less than $400 on various business expenses.
When I first added a website and a course platform, my total cost was less than $20 each month, plus $8 each year for the domain fee.
What is a “day in the life” of a health and wellness coach like?
My day-to-day activities are fairly uneventful. Most of the morning is dedicated to my family, eating breakfast together, playing an educational game, and covering some homeschool material.
On the days I have calls scheduled, I make a call before we have lunch, and about an hour after. I typically don’t have more than 2 calls in a day, this way I can better balance family needs and longer calls for my clients.
On days that I don’t have calls, I write a blog post, update Pinterest, reach out to my monthly customers to offer support and check on them, respond to messages, update course and resource center content, and reach out to new client leads. These tasks are divided up over a few days, so I’m not doing them all at once.
I do have boundaries set that I don’t work in the late afternoons, evenings or weekends, unless its pre-arranged by appointment. This is to honor my family time.
My marketing is fairly simple. Most of my client leads come through referrals, some from search engines recommending my blog posts, and some come from Pinterest.
How did you build the business up to where it is now from where you started?
When you make your clients happy, they tell other people. When I heard clients rave about results I helped them achieve, I ask them for a review and a referral.
Each client I talk with, I add to a spreadsheet to track our conversations. This has helped me identify the most commonly discussed topics that I used to create formulas, a resource center, and automated courses to help streamline my coaching processes.
I used that spreadsheet and took the time to build a few online courses and a resource center that cover my coaching topics with frequently discussed topics that I update periodically, which helps augment my coaching so I’m spending less time repeating myself and more time focused on individual client needs than processes, making my time more efficient.
Eventually, I took those courses and offered them as complete, automated, self-paced courses to provide at discounted prices to be able to serve more people and boost my revenue. Then I added an affiliate program to partner with other students and coaches for them to earn a commission from me for helping me with marketing my programs.
I also took a long, hard look at what my clients needed in addition to my coaching, and found ways to build my skills to be able to accomplish it. This includes numerous skills to augment my business coaching to include website design, courses to DIY website design and online marketing, resource lists and checklists for completing tasks to set themselves up for success, and strategizing ways to diversify marketing efforts.
Tips for Success as a Health and Wellness Coach
What do you think made you successful where others have failed?
Intuition, empathy, emotional recognition, and over-delivering on promises.
Actively listening to what your client is enduring to gain as deep of an understanding as you possibly can is crucial. Listening to truly hear their heart and the underlying pain behind their words takes listening to a whole new level.
Listening is an art. Don’t listen to respond. Listen to understand. When you clear your mind and give your client space to be truly heard, you gain the capacity to allow your intuitive gifts to shine through, serving as a catalyst for growth and change instead of regurgitating potentially biased information you learned in the past or through working with other people.
Knowing how your clients feel and being able to empathize with them on a deep emotional level builds trust, loyalty, and a deeper sense of community (all of which are largely missing in our current society). Having been in similar “impossible” feeling situations helps to understand what they are experiencing, not just offering sympathy.
Discuss with your client the reason why they hire you. What is it they want to accomplish?
Take it a step deeper. WHY do they want to accomplish that “what?”
Take it a step deeper. WHY is that “why” important?
And continue going deeper (usually about 7 levels) to get to the root cause of their pain. Make sure you are prepared for a deep emotional tear-provoking reason, and calmly validate them. Cry with them if you genuinely feel compelled to (this increases your empathic connection).
Also take note of what those “what” and “why” responses are. It isn’t uncommon to have multiple clients with the same issues. These core values displayed in their “why” reasoning may help you with future marketing to better connect with other potential clients who have similar issues.
Over-deliver. Take a look at what your client wants to achieve – that deeply rooted why – and go the extra mile in providing them every bit of support, information, and recommendations you can, even if you don’t personally profit off it.
Stick to your boundaries, but still treat your clients like they’re family. Go out of your way to genuinely make them feel valued and safe. This level of support and encouragement produces massive results in ways they weren’t expecting, even if the “what” ends up morphing into something different.
What is one of your favorite client stories that solidifies why you do what you do?
Choosing one is so difficult. My most recent favorite client is a stay-at-home mom to an autistic son and full-time caretaker to a wounded warrior. She was so overwhelmed she didn’t know what her problem was or what she wanted to achieve, she just knew something needed to change.
We talked and cried together for almost two hours on the phone where I gave her space to share what is going on and why it isn’t working for her, what her dreams are, what her ideal vision for the future is, what’s stopping her, and anything she felt compelled to share from her heavy heart.
She had ignored herself and her life purpose to the point where she didn’t know who she was and became chronically sick with an “unexplained illness” that multiple doctors couldn’t figure out. After our call, she felt 100 pounds lighter, remembered what she enjoys in life, and started listening to her body.
During our follow up call, she started strategizing ways to manage being a wife, mom, and start a business that brought her joy.
Fast forward 6 months, she began a new meaningful career, a means to incorporate multiple streams of income, homeschools her son, is helping her husband navigate his healing to the point where he is able to leave the house again, healed her own health, values herself and her efforts, and created a much happier home.
Her response to our time working together:
“Before talking with Nicole, I was uncertain of my direction both personally and professionally, I was so unguided and overwhelmed. I felt like my soul was hurting, and was fighting my life’s purpose to the point where I became chronically ill and didn’t know how to fix it.
I didn’t know what was wrong, but talking with Nicole, we figured it out. Through talking with Nicole, everything changed. How I thought, my goals in life, how I thought about my health and interactions with people.
I honestly don’t know which part of my life she didn’t touch. My life, personally and professionally, is more defined and my self as a whole is much healthier.”
I love that through our coaching conversations, we were also able to grow a strong friendship.
What obstacles have you had to overcome to achieve success as a health and wellness coach?
Mindset and finances are easily the most difficult challenges I needed to overcome.
One thing no one talks about when navigating chronic health is the mental abuse that silently integrates throughout thoughts, and sometimes verbalized in jokes.
My most common saying was “don’t flatter yourself boys, I faint all the time,” laughing at my inability to stay conscious during seizures and low blood pressure episodes. Dark humor is common among people who are chronically ill, but what few people realize is how harmful it really is on the mindset. And realizing how much harm you’ve caused to yourself in the process is devastating.
I endured a lot of anxiety and depression caused by nearly a decade of haunting thoughts I quietly used for self-abuse. I had to relearn how to appreciate my mind, abilities, purpose, and worthiness, while not succumbing to additional self-deprecating thoughts brought on by new challenges.
These challenges caused me to second guess myself and dwell on not being able to afford all the systems I wanted to use that would have made my life easier while I piecemealed free options like Facebook and Google Drive.
What are your goals for the future of your business?
My future goals include creating various partnership plans with other wellness coaches to provide my resource center to their clients, and expand on the content already provided.
How to Determine if a Wellness Coaching Business is Right for You
What are the pros and cons of having a health and wellness coaching business?
- A LOT of job satisfaction seeing people excited about their lives again
- Earning an income while enjoying every minute of what I’m doing
- Being able to stay home with my kids, and homeschool them
- Having the flexibility to move periodically, take family vacations during unpopular times, and “road school” as my family desires
- Realizing the level of impact I’m having with providing a means to help people and earn a supplemental income passively so they can afford the help they need
- The ultimate time flexibility to have more control over how I want to live my life
- A diversification in income sources, many of them being passive
- Endless stream of accountability partners as I continue pursuing my personal goals
- Monthly income is sometimes inconsistent, requiring budgeting
- Some clients are emotionally exhausting to work with
- Relying a lot on technology (additional exposure to EMFs isn’t necessarily the pinnacle activity of a coach who advocates for natural wellness)
- Always feeling like I should be doing more, even when I don’t have the time or energy (or true need)
- Coaching others always brings up additional lessons I need to improve my personal life (and sometimes professional life). Looking into yourself and analyzing your shortcomings isn’t easy.
- Coaching without having a resource center to manage commonly discussed topics and assignments can become painfully repetitive
- Always having “great ideas” of goals to accomplish, but limited by finances or time (a great argument to build a team)
What advice do you have for someone looking to get started as a health and wellness coach?
Make sure whatever you get involved in, your heart is in it 100%. Look at what you want to achieve, and make a plan for how to get there.
Break 10 year goals down into 5 year goals. Break those 5 year goals down into 1 year goals. Break those 1 year goals down into monthly goals, and again into weekly tasks. Start small with what you’re able to afford and handle, and work your way up. Starting out doesn’t need to look glamorous… think: function over fashion.
Have a solid, emotional why to connect with your what. Life has no shortage of difficulties. When times get tough, its invaluably helpful to remind yourself why you’re doing what you’re doing, and to use it as motivation to continue.
Never be too proud to shift directions. If something isn’t working or your ideal goals change, its ok. Making a plan doesn’t mean you have to stick to it to the end. That end goal may change how it looks 10, 20, or 30 times. Sometimes it takes going through the process to find yourself, and come up with a better plan that you wouldn’t have thought about in the past.
Find a mentor. Whether its a business mentor, a coach, reading books, or following someone successful at doing something similar to what you’re wanting to do and learn from them.
Trust your own intuition. If you’re feeling confused, take a time-out. Go for a hike, sit next to some water, and just allow yourself to be. Do some art, play some music, write in a journal, or take on a different artistic hobby. Quieting your mind and opening up those creative pathways are very therapeutic when you’re feeling stuck and wanting to deepen your intuition.
Anything else you want to share?
If creating a business or side hustle is on your heart, know that is for a good reason. You’re being called to do something more than what you’ve been doing.
You don’t need to know everything before getting started. It’s ok to start small, find yourself in the process, and earn while you learn. With coaching, you really only need to be a few steps ahead of the people you help. As your clients grow and improve in their areas of struggle, you will too.
Wrapping Up: Health and Wellness Coaching Takeaways
Thank you so much, Nicole, for sharing your journey to becoming a wellness coach with us. While it was not always easy, Nicole was able to push through the challenges and develop the mindset needed to become successful and help many others in the process.
Here are some of the key takeaways I got from Nicole’s health and wellness coaching story:
- A strong “why” can overcome many obstacles
- Choose a side hustle or entrepreneurial venture that you can really put your heart into
- Even with a one-on-one client business, you can think outside the box to develop ways to stretch your time and earn passive income
- Design your business around your life, not the other way around, for optimal mental and physical health
If you’re looking for some other side hustle ideas, check these out:
- How to Succeed as a Blogger (And Make $450K a Year)
- How to Make an Extra $2,000 Flipping on eBay
- How My Bookkeeping Side Hustle Allowed Me to Quit My Job and Make $75/hr From Home
Questions about starting your own wellness coaching business? Let me know in the comments!
Andrew Herrig is the founder of Wealthy Nickel, where he writes about personal finance, side hustles, and entrepreneurship. As an avid real estate investor and owner of multiple businesses, he has a passion for helping others build wealth and shares his own family’s journey on his blog. Andrew’s expert advice has been featured on CNBC, Entrepreneur, Fox News, MSN, and more.