Google announced today they will be shutting down their Google Helpouts services on April 20th, 2015. This was disappointing for me because I have been doing online coaching using Google Helpouts for my ADHD productivity and peak performance training practice for the last year.
I really liked the Google Helpouts scheduling tools so people could easily book online coaching with me but there were many things I didn’t like about the service. I can’t say I found this announcement unexpected because given the many user experience flaws in the Google Helpouts interface, you could tell that Google wasn’t giving it a high priority.
I think that Google has really dropped the ball on their whole social mission with Google+ and integrated services like Google Helpouts. It’s probably better that they stick to their core business because clearly their engineering team has failed at cracking social media.
The Best Online Coaching Platforms:
So, to find an alternative to Google Helpouts, I’ve been doing some research to see where I can move my online coaching practice.
Sure, I could use a free tool like Skype or Google Hangouts for my online coaching but I find that the value of these coaching platforms is that they make it easier to schedule clients, take payments and build your personal brand (so more people will discover you).
Here is a breakdown of the other online coaching platforms that I think are worth trying out:
I’ve always felt that Clarity was superior to Google Helpouts but when Google approached me to be an early user of Google Helpouts I choose to go with it, expecting that Google would eventually make it amazing. This never happened and Clarity has continued to get better and better.
The service was started by Canadian serial entrepreneur Dan Martell and it now boasts over 50,000 experts (who have done over 250,000 mentorship calls) and it continues to grow 30% month-over-month. It was recently acquired by Fundable and they are now working to integrate it with their Startups.co launching pad for entrepreneurs.
Clarity is a perfect fit for what I do and I will be moving my online coaching practice to them. But there are some other Google Helpouts alternatives you may want to also consider below.
They charge experts a 15% service fee for every call completed. They have an excellent app for iOS and an Android app is in the works.
2. Live Ninja
Live Ninja bills itself as “the easiest way to browse, buy, and sell knowledge through live video.” It allows any expert to monetize their time and meet clients for one-on-one video chats. They also have some interesting features for live webinars and group events.
They have a new service that I am now trying out called Katana that allows you to do live chat sessions directly on your website. As an online coaching platform for everyone, I think that Live Ninja has a lot of potential.
LiveNinja takes a 20% flat commission and they are working on mobile apps for iOS and Android.
I’m just in the process of trying WizIQ out but it looks like one of the promising options for online coaches. They offer full online classrooms for teaching live classes and they have all kinds of powerful features like a virtual whiteboard, a payment system using PayPal and social video and audio interaction options.
For individual coaches, they offer 1-to-1 online tutoring sessions so you can provide support directly to your clients. The learning curve for WizIQ is a little steeper than the other options but it’s much more powerful and offers you the most room to grow your coaching business.
vCita is a client engagement platform that started as a live chat window that anyone could add to their website. They have been expanding their offerings for small business and have added excellent tools for client management, online scheduling, payments and document sharing with clients.
The online scheduling and payment system would probably be of most interest to online coaches. It makes it easy for your clients to set and reschedule appointment and it automates confirmations and reminders.
One thing you could consider is taking payments through vCita and having your coaching appointments scheduled with them on your calendar and then doing the coaching directly on Skype or Google Hangouts.
You can set it up on your website and try it out for free. To use the scheduling feature and take payments plans start around $12/month.
This habit formation app changed their name at the end of December 2014 from Lift to Coach.me and began to focus more on online coaching. They now have over 700 coaches ready to help with stuff like saving money, diets, writing, addiction and fitness.
I recently signed up for coaching with them (you can see my profile here) but I haven’t had a chance to promote myself in their community much yet. While I absolutely love their app and the different communities for building new habits, I’m not sure they are that great of an option for online coaches who want to earn a living.
Judging by the pricing on the app, it seems like a low cost coaching service and as a result, it may not interest most professional coaches. Also, I think they charge commissions that are way too high so I wouldn’t recommend this service for online coaches at this point.
For clients referred through the app they take 50%. If you bring in clients yourself they take 30%. They have excellent apps for iOS and Android.
Finding The Best 1-on-1 Coaching Option For You
We all have different needs but I think Clarity.fm is the best option for personal branding and getting discovered in an online marketplace. For more advanced features like a full online classroom WizIQ is really powerful. If you just want to stick to coaching over Skype or Google Hangouts, vCita looks like a great way to do the scheduling and process the payments.
If you have any personal experience with these or any other online coaching platforms feel free to share it with everyone in the comments.