Yes I know that’s an odd question, but we often miss the obvious when it’s an absence.

So many people say ‘I can’t afford to advertise’, but seem content, week to week, with empty spaces in their diary. What’s the actual cost of that? Feeling a bit uncomfortable with that question? If so that’s a feeling that should highlight how important this question is.

Think about it. People who do work get paid. Plumbers, IT professionals, Estate Agents, Builders, Insurance Salespeople, etc. It's OK to work and earn a living. It's even more valuable when the work you do makes such a great difference in people's lives.

But, we have to recognise that if we’re expecting to earn a living, money is involved. You didn’t get your skills for free, you invested in them. At that point you were a long way from seeing a return on that investment in yourself.

Now that return should be available. However, we often have difficulty seeing the big picture about earning a living.

Let’s take three real world examples: a Psychotherapist, a Physical Therapist, and a Business Coach.


Physical Therapist

business coach


The Psychotherapist has 3 a week giving 210 in income and leaving 17 slots empty.

The Physical therapist has 8 a week giving 400 in income and leaving 22 slots empty.

The Business Coach has 5 a week giving 750 in income and leaving 20 slots empty.

Most people struggling will look at those numbers and think the empty slots are unfillable, but that’s not the case. When we don’t know how, it can seem daunting, but here’s where these numbers can help us.

The Psychotherapist has 17 slots empty. That’s 17 hours a week available to work at getting the message out. That’s a lot of powerful opportunity to see more clients the next week. And the value of the time they can fill is 1,190 per week!

How much time and effort is it worth putting in to build towards an extra 1,190 per week?


The Physical therapist has 22 slots empty available. These are half hour long slots so she has 11 hours a week free to get the word out, and 1,100 in sessions every week that she can take on board, all she has to do is reach the clients who need her help.

The Business Coach has 20 slots empty. That’s 20 hours a week available to look for how best to fill them, and an extra earning potential of 3,000 every single week!

The potential income based on a 46 week working year (which is already ticking by), is:

Psychotherapist: 1,190 by 46 weeks = 54,740

Physical Therapist: 1,100 by 46 weeks = 50,600

Business Coach: 3,000 by 46 weeks = 138,000

Even filling half those slots would yield:

Psychotherapist: 1,190 by 46 weeks = 27,370

Physical Therapist: 1,100 by 46 weeks = 25,300

Business Coach: 3,000 by 46 weeks = 69,000

When we look at the potential, it’s much easier to build motivation and focus on the things that can help most. Now, does it seem more worthwhile advertising?

I really don’t know where we get the idea that our businesses should be able to run for free. Each year I meet loads of people who complain that they have to spend money on newspaper advertising, Facebook ads, online listings, etc.


The reality is that if you’re looking to earn money, you’re in business and that realisation can let you be successful and help a lot more people.

The really good news is that it gets easier as you go. When you invest in putting the word out, you will get clients. That begins spreading word of mouth when they are happy with your service. You also develop more experience, which gives more confidence. It’s a win for the person who finds help, and a win for us as therapists who both earn an income and grow our abilities.

Sure, it is scary at the start. We usually have less money starting out and the cost can be felt keenly. But until we see clients, we’re not using our skills, not helping people, and not earning an income.

However, we have to recognise that we can only help people when they know we exist, can understand that we can help, and can find us.

That means putting ourselves out there into the world. That is going to take some money, but it can easily be just a small amount.


Starting and getting income coming in, makes it much easier to grow and continue. Consistency is key. A small amount of advertising on a regular basis is more successful than a lot all at once.

My advice is: be professional with your time. Use the time that’s empty of clients, to find the people who need your help.

Pick a budget and keep going using that budget to grow the number of people you help. This method also grows your income making it easier to afford to keep getting the word out.

There are many booked-out therapists and coaches out there. It is possible.

You have to build that success. It doesn’t happen by magic.

One way to consider your budget, that I recommend a lot, is to set your weekly advertising at the cost of one client session.

So a therapist who charges 50 a session would only risk one client session in getting the word out each week. After a few weeks, as that advertising builds awareness and action, you should see more clients and it should be paying for itself.

Consider how much you spent on training. How much have you spent getting that training to the people who need your expertise and skills?

I’ve spoken to counsellors who spent 20,000 on their degree, NLP practitioners who spent 6,000 on their diploma, and Reiki practitioners who spent 1,200 on their qualifications.

What percentage is balanced against that, in getting it out to the world?


I’ve seen Hypnotherapists spend 1,500 on a chair but not spend anything on advertising and not understanding why they were poor and not helping people.

I’ve seen a Business Coach pointing out they had no money for advertising and then spend thousands on a Tony Robbins retreat. (I’m sure it was great, but there must have been money available to do it).

In short, I’m hoping you will take a look (perhaps an uncomfortable one I’ll grant) at how you look at your business.

Please choose to help, be professional with your time, and do what works to make your dream of helping people and making a difference, a reality. When you do, you also get to earn a real income.

Every best wish for success,



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John Prendergast is an award-winning Success Coach and and Psycho-Trauma Anxiety Therapist.

He is also the Founder of Therapy and Coaching Success that specialises in helping Therapists, Coaches and other Wellness Practitioners, connect with those in need, build their diaries and earn the income they need.

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A Wellness Practitioner who has done all the usual industry training on marketing and social media, and find that nothing has really worked

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  • I was interested in your blog and sales pitch and you’re right ! You have to be proactive! I spend around £40 per week (1client) on advertising on I also am on ‘find a therapist’! I Have a website and have business cards all over my local businesses/friends/ colleagues etc and don’t seem to be getting any more clients! All my clients have come from word of mouth and recommendation so I feel at a loss!

    • admin

      Hi Mel, Thanks for commenting.

      Yes that’s so often the case. A key issue is that ‘advertising’ is not all useful. Our message has to resonate with clients and that’s much easier when we control it rather than having to fit a format of online listings. They can help (and I recommend a free listing on as it brings in 6-12 clients for free each year) but they are not enough to fill a diary.

      My advice is talk about the things you help and how you help. Put long posts about why this work matters, how they’d notice if someone needed your help, and so on, on Facebook and boost them there for that same budget of £40 a week and it should go a lot further.

      I know it can be frustrating. I nearly quit before I realised it wasn’t about me or my help, it was about me not knowing how to reach and resonate with clients and their needs. Hang in there, your help is needed. If you do the free training on the home page of this site there’s a lot in there about how to get your message working well.

      Hope you have a great week,

  • Steve Adams

    As a psychotherapist who specialises in areas of mental health where there is still, unfortunately a) a stigma and b) I would be unable to accept referrals from an existing patients because of the nature of the work. Word of mouth has only ever been via professionls who I have worked with in the but who are now retired. It’s a conservative profession and I don’t think cold calling doctors etc would be appreciated. I have a web site, used ad words, paid to have search engine optimisation, paid for entries with find a therapist and other counselling web sites but to no avail. After many years in the profession I am competing against clinics with large marketing budgets that ensure brilliant web sites and premier search engine listings.
    I certainly need to do sonething. I’m not ready to retire just yet.

    • admin

      Hi Steve, Thanks for commenting. Yes, that can be difficult. I work a lot with things where word of mouth isn’t going to spread swiftly. However, when someone does hear of me that way they are assessed to see if they are right for what I do. Perhaps you could have a two step approach. If you created awareness of your help and pointed people to someone who would be willing to screen/refer would that open up opportunities?

      When it comes to contacting Doctors and professional organisations it’s usually most successful to talk to their reception and develop a relationship starting at that point. Reception form the gatekeepers of Doctor’s time and attention. Also most doctors can get CPD hours by keeping up to date with available services. If you can find who is organizing those CPD events in your area and get to speak at those it can help greatly.

      I’d also look at how you could spread the word yourself. Is there some way people could reach out to you and then you could send them to a referring physician or whoever it is that they have to come through?

      It sounds like you’re hugely experienced and have a lot to offer. I hope you keep getting that help out there.

      Have a great week,

  • I am a Hypnotherapist, and have been for the last 5 years, much of my marketing is through word of mouth. I do feel that although we can do many types of advertising, and think it may not be working,I really have learned that many types of marketing does work as the more people see your face, on your business cards, headed paper, adverts on Face book, posters and flyers, it all helps potential clients to keep “acknowledging” you are there, may try something new too that always helps is that not so?
    Rachel Dobbie

    • admin

      Hi Rachel, Thanks for the comment. Go you, it was hypnotherapy that got me past decades of anxiety so always glad to see another hypnotherapist out there working! Very true, people respond more when they repeatedly encounter us, whether that’s repeatedly on one format like a newspaper or Facebook or over different places.
      Consistency wins.
      Keep up the good work, John

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