There are a few apps for life coaches that are essential when they start their coaching business and are ready to accept clients: a scheduling/appointment app of some sort, a video conferencing app for online sessions, and a tool to send their contracts and have them signed by their clients.
I look at some of the most popular options below, with a focus on low-cost or free services.
Scheduling or Appointment apps
How they work
Appointment apps operate in the following manner: you connect your online calendar (for example, Google Calendar) so that the app knows which slots are accessible throughout the day. Of course, you can add, open or close slots as you wish. You are then provided with a link to the booking calendar, which you can send to your clients. Alternatively, you can embed the calendar on your website.
Another important feature of these apps is the inclusion of forms: you can include questions for your clients to answer before submitting the form. This is useful, for example, if you want to pre-approve particular clients, see if you are a good fit to work together or be better prepared for the initial coaching session.
What’s possibly more useful is that clients are automatically sent a link for the video call. So, in the end, your clients will receive an email containing all the info they need: the booking date (you can even set reminder emails to be sent), the booking location, and the video conferencing link.
There are currently countless scehdulling apps available, and I would need a separate post to cover the majority of them (even this sounds like a daunting task – new ones are released on a regular basis!) I’ll only cover three: the most popular option among coaches, a low-cost alternative, and a full-featured app that combines the best of both worlds.
Calendly is by far the most popular appointment app, and one can see why: it’s very simple to set up, and the settings are easy to find and configure. The downside is that if you want to use more than two meeting-types (i.e. meetings with different durations or different sets of questions), you need to pay for a premium account (currently at $10/month for monthly subscriptions).
TidyCal is an AppSumo project (the latter is a collection of useful and low-priced digital tools). It offers more or less the same features as Calendly and is just as easy to use. TidyCal has a limited free version, but you can get the premium version by paying only $29 (current price) for a lifetime subscription. This means there are no monthly fees or recurring payments. As far as value for money is concerned, it doesn’t get any better than this.
Although OnceHub is not widely known in the coaching industry, it deserves special mention because its free version offers more than any other appointment app I’ve tried. You can personalize every detail, and create multiple events and reminders, even under different profiles. The disadvantage is that it has a steep learning curve due to the abundance of settings. But if you want to be able to control everything, I don’t know of another free app that offers as much. And even on the free plan, their customer service is excellent!
Video chat and conferencing apps
How they work
Well, this is a no-brainer, but it’s worth noting that there are typically two ways to connect with clients via a video conferencing app: send a link that automatically connects both of you to the call when clicked, or have the clients as “contacts” in your app and call them by selecting their name (or have the client call you). The former method has grown in popularity in recent years.
Need I say more? During the pandemic, Zoom rose to unprecedented heights and became a household name. It’s simple to use, with more complex options hidden beneath the settings so that they don’t become obtrusive. The downside? Meetings are limited to 40mins duration, and then the call ends. At $14.99 per month (on the monthly plan), perhaps it’s not the cheapest option. Having said that, if you want to have more flexibility with your meetings, or plan to host events and group calls, nothing comes close to Zoom in terms of functionality and available features. Some of these include breakout rooms, excellent use of a green screen/virtual; background, background noise filtering and a very effective touch-up mode.
Skype, once the most popular video calling app, is gradually being superseded by Microsoft Teams. On the plus side, Skype is one of the most user-friendly apps. It has a simple and elegant user interface. And, perhaps most importantly, calls have a 24-hour limit, so you can talk for hours. The blur function and virtual background are both present, as in Zoom. However, complex features such as breakout rooms are missing, making Skype better suited for 1:1 sessions rather than hosting large-scale events.
Teams is more like a fully-featured app suite rather than just a video conferencing app, offering deep integration with Microsoft Word and the rest of the 365 apps. Unfortunately, the free version limits your calls to 60 minutes only. But if you decide to pay for a subscription, you also get breakout room functionality, among other things. The interface is slightly more complex than Skype and Zoom, but being a suite of different apps, this makes absolute sense.
Google’s video conferencing app is popular mainly due to its simplicity. Contrary to the above apps, there is no separate desktop client – everything is done through the web browser (this has its pros and cons). Google Meet’s main asset is the dead simple user interface and ease of use. The disadvantage is that, on the free version, calls are limited to 60 mins.
Digital Signature apps
How they work
Let’s say you want to send your contract to a virtual client so they can read it, agree to the terms, and sign it. By using a digital signature app, you can upload the document in PDF format (some apps also accept Word format), create a placeholder for the client’s signature (usually by dragging and dropping), press the send button, enter your client’s email address, and you’re done! When the client signs the contract, you will receive an email notifying you so that you can go to the e-signature app and download a copy.
The popular options???
Well, now comes the difficult part. Unlike video conferencing and appointment apps, there is no single e-signature app that coaches prefer. In fact, as a member of various coaching groups on social media, forums, and platforms, I’ve noticed that each person has a unique preference when the question arises.
In fact, for a list of comparisons between some of the most known e-signature apps, I recommend following this link: https://www.capterra.com/sem-compare/digital-signature-software
However, if you ask me, PandaDoc is still my personal favorite. Why? It’s one of the few digital signature apps that allows you to send an unlimited number of documents per month, and the free version even allows you to accept PayPal payments as soon as the document is signed.
Still, feel free to browse the Capterra list and sign up for free trials for some of the services if you want to compare them. However, if you want to start with a simple and free app, PandaDoc should suffice. And it also comes with great customer service!
Before you go
Because new apps are released on a regular basis, this list may become out of date at some point: features and pricing change all the time, so double check the official website of the apps that interest you before making a decision. And don’t forget to subscribe to my newsletter for updates to stay up to date on the latest news and reviews.