Online Course versus Coaching Program – What’s the Difference?


Online course vs coaching program… what is the difference?

A lot of people use it interchangeably. So why is it important to understand the difference between those two terms?

In this video, I’m teaming up with my friend, Jennifer Bourn, of the Coach Factory. We’re going to break it all down for you.

We’ll look at what makes a course and what makes a coaching program different, and why it matters. If you’ve ever been confused about which one you might need, you’re in the right place. Let’s get into it!


Here’s the full transcript of our conversation:

Milana Leshinsky: Welcome, everybody. This is Milana Leshinsky. I am the creator of the Scalable Coach Society Group. I’m the founder of coachinggenie.com, the coaching platform for group coaching. And I have Jennifer Bourn with me who is my partner in content creation today.

Milana Leshinsky: A lot of people wonder, like, how does one create content, and what do you do with it later?

Milana Leshinsky: Jennifer runs a company called coachfactory.co . Jennifer, do you wanna say a little bit about Coach Factory?

Jennifer Bourn: Sure. Coach Factory is a resource site for coaches. It is training, resources, downloads, a podcast, all dedicated to the business side of coaching, helping you start, run, or grow a profitable coaching business. And we’ve got a team behind it that is made up of all coaches and we’re excited to connect with you and to create content.

Milana Leshinsky: But because both Jennifer and I have been in the coaching space for many years and have worked with clients for many years as well. We can talk about anything really just to find a really good, valuable angle, and something that’s very relevant today.

Milana Leshinsky: So but I am so excited to talk to you about what we really want to cover, and that is the difference between a course and a coaching program. A lot of people use it interchangeably. A lot of people mean different things when they say one or the other. And maybe I’ll start by asking you a question, Jennifer. Why is it important to understand the difference between those two terms?

Jennifer Bourn: Well, I think it’s all about clarity and expectation. And the reality is a course can be a coaching program, and a coaching program can have components of a course, and different people might call them different things in their businesses. But what’s what’s most important is that you’re really, really clear on the difference in your business, your business model and with your coaching clients so they know what expectations they have going in to a course or a program because the biggest difference is often the access they have to you.

Milana Leshinsky: Absolutely. And something you started talking about, the idea of perceived value.

Milana Leshinsky: Can there be a thousand dollar course? Probably. But in my mind, when I hear course and a coaching program, I immediately assume that a coaching program will be more expensive. Right? Because it implies that there is a coach who is gonna be guiding you through the process of whatever it is you’re creating.

Milana Leshinsky: The other part of it is you can deliver your course as a live course, and then I will consider it a coaching program. Is there a difference between a live course and a coaching program? What do you think?

Jennifer Bourn: For me, in my business, the difference between course and coaching program, whether it’s live or it’s kind of a combination of self study and coaching is number 1, how much access to me there is? And number 2, am I just showing up for Q&A, or am I showing up to guide?

Jennifer Bourn: Right? Is the content doing all the guiding, and I’m showing up once a week for live Q&A, but you’re going through the content on your own? In my business, that’s more of a course with a group coaching component, whereas a coaching program is more cohort based. Everybody’s going through it together. They’re experiencing things together, and I’m guiding them through that process.

Milana Leshinsky: Yes. And, you know, if you talk to different coaches, you’ll hear different definitions of coaching programs as well. I know a lot coaches who run programs without any content at all, without any teaching content. They just show up, and they serve their group. Hopefully, there is some kind of a shared experience or shared challenges that they want to address, but there is really no minimum content.

Milana Leshinsky: Maybe there’s some resources or worksheets or something. But a lot of coaches don’t have any content. Now I am very heavy on the content part because I do have that teacher personality. And so, you know, with Coaching Genie as a platform, when I developed it, my vision was that people will be receiving content, and then they’ll be invited to these coaching calls or group coaching calls. So, I call it a reverse classroom.

Milana Leshinsky: I’ve seen it called flipped classroom where you deliver the teaching before the call. You don’t actually teach on the call. But I think when somebody says a live course, they actually imply that they will be teaching the material right on the call. Right?

Jennifer Bourn: Yeah. And that’s the difference. Right? There’s the component where the learning is kind of self study, and the coaching comes in to follow-up and say, now that you’ve had a chance to go through the material, let’s talk about it. Let’s answer questions.

Jennifer Bourn: Let’s see where you got stuck. Right. And the live course is I’m going to show up and I’m going to teach you and maybe there’s interaction as I teach or there’s live exercises while we’re going through, or maybe it’s a little more workshop style. And then there is those coaching programs where most of the content are recordings of those live sessions. Right?

Jennifer Bourn: I have one program I run that has no content in it, and it’s pure coaching strategy and accountability. But we still need a place to put the recordings and the reference and the transcripts, or if somebody needs a resource and I’ve got to grab it, we still need a place to be able to put that. And that’s one of the reasons why we connected in the first place is because Coaching Genie is such fantastic software to be able to manage your content in your course or your group program, regardless of what kind of content you’re managing.

Milana Leshinsky: Yeah. Absolutely.

Milana Leshinsky: Especially when you have replays of your coaching calls, I’ve always struggled. Where do I put those? So that there’s definitely an area for those calls in the Coaching Genie framework. 1 of the things that I think will make a difference between a course and a coaching program is, are you really doing a coaching on your live calls, or are you answering questions? Because to me, a Q&A is, here I am present for my clients, and they’re asking questions, and I answer them.

Milana Leshinsky: But coaching feels a little bit different. Right. First of all, it’s run by a coach, somebody who actually calls himself the coach. There’s some mindset involved, usually because the questions people are asking are sometimes not the questions they really should be asking, and it’s a coach’s job to steer them in the right mindset or thinking. And, also, if it’s a group coaching program, which I love to run, I do a lot of group coaching programs then you involve the group.

Milana Leshinsky: Then you are not the only expert. You’re not the guru. You are bringing the group on board to actually support each other.

Jennifer Bourn: I love that you pointed out the difference between Q&A and coaching. Because having somebody ask you a question and you give an answer is very different than live coaching, even in a group setting where someone’s asking a question.

Jennifer Bourn: And most of the time as a coach, your job isn’t to give them the answer. Your job is to flip that around and ask them a question that’s gonna help them have a light bulb moment.

Milana Leshinsky: Totally.

Jennifer Bourn: Right. It’s to help them have that breakthrough or that Because most of the time, the people in your coaching programs, they have everything they need to get there, but they need that little nudge or they need that little thing that’s gonna spark that next thing.

Jennifer Bourn: So answering a question and providing a solution and helping someone get to that ah-ha on their own is 2 very different experiences.

Milana Leshinsky: Definitely. And as I’m thinking about content creation for coaching programs, you know, we really need to touch on the idea of how much content a coaching program should have. This is why I love coaching programs, and I teach how to create a coaching program.

Milana Leshinsky: And I always tell people, you actually need less content than you think. Remember, you’re not creating a course where a hundred percent of value comes from the content in a course. In a coaching program, the value comes maybe 30 percent from the content, and then there is another 30 percent from the coaching and another 30 percent from the community or the collaborations. I don’t know what the other 10 percent might be. Maybe it’s the energy or the vibe or the resources, but it’s not all about the content. And, when you create too much content in your program, you are not only overwhelmed yourself because you’re creating it your people are.

Milana Leshinsky: You’re overwhelming your clients because they have to consume the content, and there’s then very little room left to implement. Right?

Jennifer Bourn: It’s the biggest mistake that people make when creating content for programs or for courses, because it comes from a place of wanting to add value, right? It comes from a place of, I want people to be so happy that they invested in this program or bought this course.

Jennifer Bourn: I want them to see the value. I want them to think this was money well spent. So we pour everything into it. We think we need to be more and more and more, but really less can create a bigger impact because when there’s no overwhelm and it’s doable and achievable and they get those little wins and they take action and you’re there to support them, the experience is actually better.

Jennifer Bourn: I made that mistake when I created my first course. I put way too much stuff in it, and I’ve been dialing it back every time. And I still today when I’m creating new programs or courses or content, I put it all in, and then I’m like, alright. What can I pull out? What’s extra? What’s just me feeling a little insecure and wanting to give lots of value.

Milana Leshinsky: That’s actually an interesting point. What is it? Is it you feeling insecure and that’s why you’re adding more content, feeling like maybe that is the source?

Jennifer Bourn: Oh, for me, it totally is.

Milana Leshinsky: The value. But I think that a lot of people will do that. Like, I wanna give more value. Let me create more content. I wanna give more value. Let me add another training, another call, another bonus to the program because there is the main coaching program.

Milana Leshinsky: And when you market and sell it, you also want to include some bonuses. And so the more bonus content that you create, the more you feel you might feel like, oh, I’m giving this and this and this. And I think the question you wanna ask is, “Is this going to address the biggest reason why they haven’t said yes yet?”

Jennifer Bourn: That is good. Yeah. And the thing is, if you look at the testimonials and you look at case studies and you look at success stories, most of them will say, “Oh, the content was good, but I achieved this. I did this. I made this much more money. I landed these clients. I helped somebody else achieve this. I gained more confidence.”

Jennifer Bourn: All the things that are in your testimonials and success stories have nothing to do with your content. It’s what somebody did with that content. Right? So you need just enough content so that somebody can take action and make progress.

Jennifer Bourn: And every time they do that, it builds momentum. And that action that they take, what they do with your coaching and content is what leads to those great testimonials and case studies.

Milana Leshinsky: Right. Absolutely. Well, let me ask you about Coach Factory because I think that, the content that I’ve seen inside Coach Factory is very unique.

Milana Leshinsky: It’s a deep dive into a topic, into a conversation. It is another level. It’s not like the free content you see out there. What has been your thinking as you were creating the content concepts in the Coach Factory, Jennifer?

Jennifer Bourn: Well, our main business, where we make all of our money in our business, is through a website called Motivation Code.

Jennifer Bourn: We sell an assessment, right called the Motivation Code Assessment, and it’s used by coaches. And when we were looking at what the coaches who use our assessment need, it was support growing their business. It was support getting clients.

Jennifer Bourn: It was support figuring out, right I love coaching. I’ve got my coaching certification or I’ve decided to become a coach. Now what? How do I build this business?

Jennifer Bourn: What do I do? The more we can empower coaches to be successful, the more those successful coaches will use our assessment. And so when we were thinking about how do we do this, it wasn’t really a fit to build that all into Motivation Code. And we thought, let’s make an investment. Let’s make an investment in coaching.

Jennifer Bourn: The people behind Coach Factory, me and my teammates, we’re coaches ourselves. And we thought, let’s put our money where our mouth is and put our money behind this profession and an industry we totally believe in and work in, and let’s invest in helping more coaches build successful businesses.

Jennifer Bourn: And so Coach Factory just launched in March this year. We’re a fairly new site, and we’ve got a podcast and articles and all kinds of free resources and downloads. And we’ve got plans for some learning tracks and some courses in the future.

Jennifer Bourn: But as coaches with our own personal brands, right? I’m running my own. It’s really exciting and fun to be able to lean in and support coaches in a different way.

Milana Leshinsky: Yeah. I love that. And I love that, you know, membership is free from what I remember in the Coach Factory.

Jennifer Bourn: Charge nothing.

Milana Leshinsky: Yeah. I mean, I find that fascinating because you know, quality content, quality information, quality resources are hard to find because there’s so much free stuff out there especially with AI, content creation has become almost like a throwaway content.

Jennifer Bourn: That hurts my heart. I am a content creator at heart, and I’m not a big fan of pumping it out by AI.

Milana Leshinsky: Yes. Well and I actually I use AI constantly with my clients even during coaching sessions to create content.

Milana Leshinsky: And I literally had a session yesterday with a client, and we were trying to create some emails. And it just wasn’t doing a good job for us. The Chat GPT tool that we were using, we both looked at it and said, no. That doesn’t sound inspiring. This sounds too formal.

Milana Leshinsky: And I know we could have, like, played and continue to play, but then we ended up just saying, okay. What would you wanna say to your potential client? And we just punched out some content that felt like, “Oh, that’s from the heart. That doesn’t sound very formal or corporate. This is good, and this is personable and personal.”

Milana Leshinsky: So I think that AI just adds a whole new element.

Jennifer Bourn: Oh, and it’s fantastic to flesh out ideas. Right? Ideas and brainstorming and to see what might have I not thought of yet on this topic. But ultimately, you’re the expert and people connect with what’s in your heart and your voice and your personality and all of those things. So if It’s not your voice coming through in your content or your course or your coaching program.

Jennifer Bourn: Right? People won’t connect with it as much. So it’s great to use those tools, but then you’ve gotta put your heart and voice into it.

Milana Leshinsky: And your point of view, your perspective. Right?

Milana Leshinsky: That is the most valuable thing that you can possibly bring to your content. This is why people will buy your coaching program and not an AI generated course. That’s why people really want to know, what do you think? I just paid 350 dollars for an hour long consultation on a topic that I really want to know some information around. Could I have I’ve consulted Chat GPT?

Milana Leshinsky: Probably, yes. But I’m not gonna get 10 years of experience around that topic. I’m not gonna get original ideas and deeper thinking around, like, what should I do? I actually tried before hiring her.

Jennifer Bourn: And that’s what people want out of your course or out of your coaching program. Right? They want somebody with an opinion. They want somebody with a perspective. They want somebody who is gonna say, I’ve been where you are.

Jennifer Bourn: I can help you get where you’re at, or I’ve helped other people go through the same thing. This is what I think. This is how I do it. This is what I believe, and I can help you get there. When you show up confidently like that, people are attracted to that.

Jennifer Bourn: Right? When you can show up with a course and say, “Right. This is what I believe. This is my perspective. This is where I think people get it wrong. Let’s walk you through this process.”

Jennifer Bourn: Right. That Attracts people. Nobody wants the wishy washy person who’s like, well, it may do this or it might do this or you could do that. That doesn’t inspire anybody to take action.

Milana Leshinsky: Totally. Yeah. I’d love for you to give, like, what are the takeaways, the more practical takeaways that you feel people should take away with them from from this conversation?

Milana Leshinsky: I will give 1, and we haven’t really mentioned it, but I think that’s really important, and maybe you have some ideas as well. The practical takeaway for me is that there is a difference between a coaching program and a course in terms of perceived value, expectations, how much people would be willing to pay, how much access you give to yourself. But, also, a coaching program after you run it could become a course, and we haven’t talked about that. Right? Because it’s still content.

Milana Leshinsky: It’s still material. It’s still maybe you still have worksheets or workbook that accompanies your coaching program. And together the content, will become a course which you can continue to leverage even if you don’t run it live. So that to me is a big important takeaway. I do it all the time.

Milana Leshinsky: In Coaching Genie, you can actually turn a coaching program into an evergreen course that people can purchase anytime with or without live calls. So that is the ultimate repurposing of content that we briskly went over.

Milana Leshinsky: What is what do you feel is the biggest takeaway, Jennifer, from this conversation?

Jennifer Bourn: I think it’s important when you define your offers to decide whether you’re creating a coaching program or whether you’re creating a course and being really clear about what the difference is for you.

Jennifer Bourn: How much of you somebody gets in that offer, right? If it is a course, are they learning on their own and then you’re showing up for Q and A to help them get unstuck and take action? Or are you teaching live, and is there gonna be some workshop style and interaction? Or is there maybe some learning on their own and they get 1 on 1 Calls with you or maybe group calls where you work through things together, right? Get really clear on the structure and how much of you is going into that program.

Jennifer Bourn: Because the biggest difference in pricing, of course, or a coaching program is how much time of yours is going into it, how much access somebody gets. Right? And when you’re really clear about that, when you’re creating it, you can get really clear about exactly what content you need. And again, it’s just enough to empower someone to take action. That way you’re not just pouring lots in hoping you covered everything and somebody gets some value.
Jennifer Bourn: Everything’s really intentional to get them to action and results. So you get that great testimonial and and success story. The clear expectations is what’s gonna get you there.

Milana Leshinsky: Totally. Your share triggered something that I I just wanna say because I think it’s important.

Milana Leshinsky: When we try to give a lot of content to people, what we don’t realize is that they may not be ready for all of that content yet. That’s why you know, in the education field, there is like a circle a curriculum where you start somebody on the basic concept, but then you come back to the same concept at a different level. And then the there’s a third level of it and so on. Right? So you know more ready to implement higher level concepts.

Jennifer Bourn: I was just having a conversation with somebody about this. I have a small group coaching and accountability program. We were just talking about this because I said something and she’s like, well, that would have been helpful if you said that at the beginning of the year when we started working together, and I’m like, “You weren’t ready to hear it then. You had to go through the growth and the stages that we went through so far, to get to this being something that you are ready to act on.”

Milana Leshinsky: Yes.

Jennifer Bourn: Right? And that was just kind of like this moment because it’s true. Sometimes you can hear something 5 or 6 times, but you’re not ready to hear it.

Milana Leshinsky: Absolutely.

Jennifer Bourn: And really let us sink in and act on it until maybe the sixth or seventh time. Yeah. I mean, if you have kids, you’ve been like, I’ve been saying this to you forever, and he says it, and all of a sudden you’re like, yay. I mean, it’s the same concept.

Milana Leshinsky: And I remember my coach many years ago, 15 years ago, would tell me, you weren’t ready to hear that. And I would get upset sometimes because I would tell them, well, why didn’t you tell me that sooner? Why weren’t you sharing this? Like, I wanted to know. My dance teacher does the same thing to me. I would ask him, “Is this a new technique, or this new choreography move?” Or no. It’s the same 1, but now we’re tweaking it.

Milana Leshinsky: And I would tell him, like, why didn’t you tell me that before? Was I doing it wrong this whole time? Because, no, you just weren’t ready for this one.

Milana Leshinsky: So we have to wrap up. Jennifer Bourn of coachfactory.co. Milana Leshinsky of coachinggenie.com. Thank you so much for watching and joining us. Let us know what you think. Also, what would you like for us to talk about next time? So thank you so much. Again, we’ll see you next time.




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