When starting, how do you price nutrition coaching packages? Step 1. Don’t work for free.

One of the biggest mistakes I see new coaches making is offering their services for free with the goal of getting some testimonials and transformation stories, and possibly even referrals  to help sell their new coaching services.

And this is a TERRIBLE idea.



This makes logical sense. You’re launching a new product or service, or you’re just getting started coaching. You offer your services for free, maybe with a Facebook or Instagram post:

“I have THREE FREE coaching spots available! DM me!” 

Why Working For Free Doesn’t Work

You hope this free offer will be so irresistible that your inbox will be FLOODED with interest.

Honestly, it pains me to see when people do this on Instagram and don’t get a single comment, and maybe 5 likes on the post. 

They’re probably sitting there thinking:

“dang algorithm buried my post” 


“I don’t get why everyone isn’t JUMPING at this irresistible offer!”

Without discussing too much about why a free offer isn’t that enticing anymore – and how these social media offers could be improved – the underlying point is that I’m GLAD no one is taking up your free coaching offers.

Price Your Coaching Packages – To Save Your Time


It’s a waste of your time, and it’s a waste of theirs.

When you work with someone, and they aren’t paying- what’s their skin in the game? If you recommend something they think will be ‘too hard’ what are the stakes if they ignore that advice? Nothing. 

If they book a meeting with you and something else comes up, you know- life happens? Why wouldn’t they just cancel on you last minute? Or worse –forget to show up?

Your time is wasted.

Never Work For Free for Family and Friends

Worse yet, let’s say the person that took up your free offer is a close friend or family member. And they don’t follow your plan. Maybe resentment builds.

Is your relationship really worth a potential testimonial from someone that has the same last name as you?!

And because this is a new offer, you haven’t worked the kinks out yet. There are some aspects that are disorganized. 

Pricing Packages Appropriately Disperses Friction

Maybe your check in process is redundant and sloppy. For example, you ask the free ride clients to keep a food journal in MyFitnessPal which already tracks their macros, and then you ask them to put those macros into a spreadsheet, and then they have to email that spreadsheet to you every Friday. 

You’ve created a lot of friction. 

And as I mentioned, when friction arises and they don’t have skin in the game- they’re not going to follow through on your process. Even if they were paying- that much friction is going to cause a lack of adherence!

Never Work For Free with a Repeatable Program

Let’s look at this from a different angle. Let’s say you found an ideal and motivated free client. They follow your advice to the “t” because they’re so grateful you’re helping them for free.

But they don’t see results right away. And then you keep experimenting and making changes to see what works.

Their time is being wasted because your system doesn’t repeatably get results. And this might create a badvocate rather than a referral source. A failure story rather than a success story.

Working for Free is Super Risky for All Involved

By offering to work with someone for free- you’re taking on some MASSIVE risks. And so are they.

It doesn’t serve ANYBODY for you to coach people for free.

If your goal is to get transformation stories, offering 8-12 weeks of free coaching is NOT a reliable way to achieve that goal. (Related: How To Ask For Client Referrals w/o Feeling Sleezy)

Plus, unless you starve the free clients, the chance of an eye popping transformation picture is certainly not guaranteed unless they’re a dietary hyper responder. You’ve got about a 1-in-10 chance of that.

And you know what else? All your experienced competitors will have a cache of jaw dropping and impressive transformation stories, too.

Charge for a Reliable System for Getting Results

So what are you supposed to do to get started and stand out?!

Well first off, if you want to increase the likelihood of getting results for your clients, you need to have a reliable system for getting results in place.

Too often, I see coaches creating a Frankenstein system where they try to combine a bunch of philosophies they vibe with, and then fire-hose new clients with information hoping to get them “up to speed”.

But think about it this way- what happens when someone combines training programs “I’m doing a smolov junior mixed with Wendler 5/3/1. James said Smolov increased his squat 50lbs and Jane increased hers 35lbs on Wendler so I’m going to hit an 85lb PR” But they don’t. 

Pick One Approach for Your Coaching Program

Same goes for nutrition. Pick one approach, one system at a time and stick with it. Especially when you’re starting out! That way you can do the Bruce Lee breakdown- what works with the program? What doesn’t work? Now make it your own.

Once you have that experience, you can start experimenting with another approach, another system. And over time you will create a unique, repeatable system that is uniquely your own. 

But don’t create an alphabet soup keto-plant based-macro program straight out of the gate if you don’t know how to coach each of those approaches individually. 

Want a great place to start? 

We take a quantity-first approach at Beyond Macros because evidence shows that controlling food quantity not only gets results, but is less likely to lead to disordered eating than diets that restrict food choices.

We teach coaches this evidence based, quantity-first approach in our certification programs because we’ve realized adherence follows results, not the other way around.

Too often I hear coaches saying:

“get your clients to adhere, and they will get results”

But if you’re new, and you’ve got a client adhering to a plan that doesn’t work for them- results don’t follow. 

If you borrow one of our quantity-first approaches that evidence shows gets clients results, and you use it to get your client some quick wins- don’t you think they’ll be more compliant with your future recommendations?

So, if you’re creating a new program offering or are new to coaching- make sure that you’ve got a program that gets results in order to get compliance with your first clients, and this increases the likelihood of a success story.

Charging for Coaching Services Filters Out People Who Aren’t Feeling The Pain

Remember, if you’re coaching people for free- you’re both taking on a BIG risk. Even though you both want the same thing- which is for the client to make an outstanding and share-worthy transformation- that doesn’t mean you both want it equally.

If the client isn’t willing to pay you (or anybody) for that transformation- chances are they’re not feeling the pain of their predicament enough to comply with any of your cues and recommendations. Especially the ones they find difficult and struggle with.

For example, if you ask the client to change their order from nachos to a salad at their favorite restaurant- they will be weighing the pain of watching someone else eat epic nachos while they choke down a salad vs. the pain of staying the same. And change is painful, people resist it.

Plus, think about social cues. What if the clients friends gasp when Matt orders a salad. “Whoooooaaa Matt, what’s gotten into you! You always order the nachos. Are you feeling OK?”

So in that moment the pain of peer pressure and change is greater than the pain they’ll feel if they don’t lose weight.

But when you charge clients for your services, you’ve already filtered out the people who aren’t feeling the pain yet.

Paying Clients Have Skin in the Game

When someone pays you to guide them to their transformation, you KNOW that the pain of their predicament is greater than the pain of giving you their hard earned money and making behavior changes.

You reduce your risk massively when you charge for your services because anyone who bites on your offer is pre-qualified. They’re MORE likely to adhere to your program.

And they reduce their risk, too. 

No Pain, No Gain

If you work with someone for free, and they’re not compliant with their program week after week- how motivated are you to keep helping them make a transformation?

Is your pain- your need for a transformation story- is that pain bad enough to keep banging your head against the wall trying to get someone who doesn’t care about your program to comply?

Let’s say you make it 4 weeks into their free 8-week weight loss coaching program. They haven’t lost a single pound, and have barely followed any of your advice. You have trouble getting in touch with them, and they never check in.

Do you keep throwing hail marys hoping they catch your drift and turn things around? Do you keep wishing that the laws of physics disappear and they make a magical 4-week transformation?

Or do you cut your losses and “fire” them as a client?

Chances are, at that point you’re cutting your losses. 

Not only are you let down, but the client was let down by a bad experience, too. They might even think they were doing their best and that you failed them. They took a big risk on working with a newbie coach, and their worst case scenario happened. 

Or they might feel guilty, and like they just don’t have what it takes to make their transformation.

Charging Clients Keeps You and Them Motivated

But if they paid you, is your motivation different? Now that you have financial skin in the game, not only are you motivated to help them make a transformation that will become a story that helps sell your program- but you’re also motivated to guide them to the transformation they paid you for.

Both parties paradoxically have less risk when money is involved.

FREE VIP Worksheet

So what I’ve done is created a downloadable worksheet to help you launch a paid beta for any new programs or services you intend to offer. BeyondMacros.com/VIP

The Easy Answer: Charge For Your Coaching Services

Offer your services at the rate you intend to charge, or a slight discount. But also offer a 100% money back guarantee if they do the work but don’t get results.

This removes everyone’s risk. And it maximizes the chance of an ideal outcome. That outcome being a jaw dropping result for your client, and a transformation story that sells for you.

You’re more motivated to work with the client to help them get results, and to hold them accountable to making the changes- whatever it takes.

Even if your program simply doesn’t work, your client doesn’t take a financial hit, and you can get feedback to improve your program and create something that DOES get results.

The client is motivated to do the work to avoid the financial loss. They’re less likely to ghost you or be non-compliant.

If a client isn’t compliant and ghosts you, at least you got paid for your time.

So bottom line, if you’re just starting out or adding a new program- charge for the service from day 1. But offer a discount IF the clients do the work. And watch your business grow via referrals and transformation stories that sell.