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Selling coaching and courses online
Sarah McGee

Selling Coaching and Courses with Melissa Bolton

Last updated: September 19, 2022

What role does branding play in helping creators sell smarter and better? After years of running successful ventures and consulting dozens of others, Melissa Bolton had a hunch: To sell successfully, you first need to know who you are and who your customer is. Then it’s simply a matter of aligning the message with both. Turns out she was right, as her extensive network of accomplished clients can attest to. She explains what creators need to know about branding, and how Payhip helped take her coaching and courses to the next level. 

By age 23 you were producing 7-figure sales. At 27, you achieved vice president status at a Fortune 500 financial company. Today you’re a highly sought-out Brand Therapist – a specialty you’ve trademarked and made your own. Tell us how this amazing journey began and what your biggest takeaways have been so far. 

I’ve never treated a customer like a prospect or viewed them as an opportunity. They’re real people with real needs, goals, and wants. The opportunity lies in how you help them. This answer feels like it should be longer, but really, that’s it; treat people as you’d want to be treated, listen, and then help.


Can you share a bit more about the role of a brand therapist and your signature   archetype-based approach?

I’ve always been interested in behavioral science and psychology, but I never wanted to be a traditional therapist. In my free time I read a lot about psychology principles and behavior patterns, especially in decision making. I started applying these concepts to my branding work and the result was nothing short of magical. As someone who believes in individuality, I’m big on creating ‘titles’ for your professional self. ‘Brand Therapist’ seemed perfect. 

I constructed the brand archetype course in 2010. At the time, there was nothing like it on the market. People were using archetypes in branding, but a course was not yet in existence. The idea is to take the proven scientific principles and apply them to buying behavior. You can doubt behaviors, but patterns are hard to deny. Archetypes show patterns of behavior and make it easy to cater your words, style, and your offerings to those who need them most.


Through your consultation work, you realized that most creators and business owners failed because they ignored branding and focused entirely on advertising. What are some simple steps creators can take to develop an authentic brand image?

Well, you can’t very well market something if you don’t know who you are, what you sell, who your ideal customers are, or what you’re truly selling. What I mean by that is, we’re  never really selling products or services. We’re selling solutions; We’re selling people a better version of themselves. Being able to understand and articulate the essence of your brand and carry it throughout all you do is essential to the success of any brand.


You offer a number of insightful, free tools to prospective clients, most notably your complimentary brand archetype quiz and report. What impact have these resources had on your business and how should creators incorporate freebies into their marketing efforts?

The free quiz has had a huge impact. I spent many years learning not only what to ask, but how to ask to solicit the best answers. Over a million people have taken the quiz over the years. That’s still mind-blowing to me. But it’s highly insightful and goes deep, so I understand the allure. I’m glad it’s been so helpful to so many. It’s helped me grow my mailing list and expand offerings to my ideal clients, too. 

I suggest creating freebies that align with your own style. As a Luminary (archetype) teacher, I like learning and sharing that knowledge, so for me, a quiz makes sense. For you, that freebie might look like something else. It may be a template, a white paper, an ebook, or some graphics or other downloadable content. Just make sure you get something in return, the most popular being their email address. They can always unsubscribe if the content doesn’t suit them.


As someone with several years of consulting experience, what advice would you give to creators who consider offering coaching services?

Oh I have lots of advice on this one: 

  • Don’t give your time away for free. A free consultation is fine to see if you’re a fit, but make sure you don’t give away too much. It’s best to have a handful of questions you want to ask before the call. Try to stick to the allotted time. Leave them intrigued and wanting more.
  • Set boundaries, and then stick to them. People will always try to get more from you. If someone wants or needs more then they will pay for your time. If they don’t, then they don’t respect your time and you should move on. It’s that simple.
  • I’m all about working only with your ideal clients. Trust your instincts. If you think a client isn’t a good fit the first time you speak with them, then they probably aren’t. Don’t ever try to justify your prices or try to convince people to work with you. The right people will be happy to work with you and excited to exchange their money for your time.


When it comes to branding, what role should social media play and which types of content have been the most effective for you as a creative?

 I consider social media more a part of marketing than of branding. I personally prefer Pinterest to the other platforms. There’s less chatter and more focus. People take the time to curate and organize. It’s highly intentional. I like that. Plus, I can see what else people are saving. Those are unique features in comparison to Facebook and Instagram. I suggest going to a platform where you have the largest following, looking at your website visitor statistics to see where your traffic is coming from, and then spending your time and energy in those places. 


Which tools have been the most useful in creating and marketing your services?

One of the most helpful resources is actually a feature, not a tool. 

Reviews are very helpful when it comes to selling. Social proof carries immense value: People want to know what they’re in for when investing in something. Hearing honest feedback from someone other than you (the seller) is pretty powerful.

Also, I use coupon codes all the time for various reasons. The ability to customize codes has been fantastic. People love it when I make them a personalized code using their name or their business name. It’s fun, plus it has an air of professionalism to it.

I couldn’t love Payhip’s ‘Courses’ feature more. It’s my favorite online tool and makes it so easy to create and develop courses. I haven’t even taken advantage of all the features yet, like quizzes or video, and I can’t wait. I launched my courses within the last month and already have lots of happy students.


Join over 130,000 sellers who have launched their online businesses with Payhip


How has Payhip helped you promote and sell your services online?

I was selling digital downloads regularly on my website until GDPR went into effect. Being a US-based company I found it frustrating, confusing, overwhelming, and time consuming to try to work through the newly implemented tax situation, so I just paused selling downloads altogether. Then I found Payhip and saw that they handled all things VAT tax for me. I was instantly intrigued. Having Payhip has allowed me to sell tens of thousands of dollars of digital products without losing a wink of sleep over VAT issues. 

Also, the Payhip name is growing in popularity and notoriety. Because their name instills confidence, buyers know they can buy without worry.

Curious to see how personalized branding can help you sell more? Check out Melissa’s Payhip shop to access resources for creators. And if you’re ready to start selling digital products online, why not give Payhip a go for free? 


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