What’s the difference between an online training course and an online coaching programme?

“Tell me and I forget, teach me and I may remember, involve me and I learn.” ~ Benjamin Franklin

As an online business coach, I get asked this question a lot, so I decided to write a detailed account of what I see as the main differences

I’ll use comparisons throughout to try to illustrate my points.

Before we get into this, I want you to know that, in the past 5 years, I myself have paid tens of thousands of dollars for and completed (and some not completed!) many “Online Training Courses”.

I first started searching for ways to make money online in 2016. 

I have done all sorts of things, including Amazon FBA (which I still do), starting a digital marketing agency, specialising in lead generation for local business, Bristol Digital (which I still do).

I now focus my energy on my coaching business as I’ve discovered that helping others to make money online is what brings me the most joy.

This year I decided it was time to invest in myself further, so I joined an “Online Coaching Programme”. I now have several mentors and business coaches.

I tell you this, because I want you to know that I speak from many years of personal experience. 

I know that with the current global health and impending economic crisis we’re facing that lots of people are now looking for ways to either replace a lost income or supplement an existing one.

Many people are now searching online for training. You may well be one of them and that’s why you’re reading this.

Whatever you decide to start, make sure that the work brings you joy, because if it doesn’t it really isn’t worth it.

We’re all different and have very unique learning styles, so in writing this article my hope is to give you the information, so that you will be able to ask the right questions before you invest your hard earned cash in any type of online training.

“Education doesn’t just take place in stuffy classrooms and university buildings, it can happen everywhere, every day to every person.” – Richard Branson

When I’m considering purchasing any type of online training/coaching, there are several factors that I will want to consider.

In no particular order, they are:

  • Method of delivery
  • Accountability
  • Timescales
  • Available Content
  • Results
  • Price

We’ll compare both, “training courses” with “training programmes”, based on the above.

I’ve also commented on the potential Pros and Cons for each.

1.Method of Delivery

Online Training Course

An online course will typically be delivered entirely via a platform/membership site. Once you purchase the course, you’ll get an email inviting you to create an account and then you’ll be able to login and access all the recorded material.

The training material is pre-recorded by the trainer and uploaded to the membership area.


  • You can access the material whenever you like.
  • You can complete the training at your own pace.


  • Training is pre recorded, so if it’s not updated regularly, it will soon become out of date
  • Because you can access the information whenever you like, you may not feel compelled to complete it and may not complete it at all (I have numerous unfinished courses!).
  • If you get stuck or don’t understand something, there is nobody to ask for help.
  • You are very much left to complete the course alone and if you get stuck, you’ll need to search online for the answers.

Wisdom is not a product of schooling but of the lifelong attempt to acquire it.” – Albert Einstein

Online Coaching Programme

  • An online coaching programme will be delivered across multiple platforms. 
  • There is usually an online members area as with the online course model, but there will be other delivery methods.

In my own group  coaching programme (Explode Your Impact) this includes:

  • A private Facebook group
  • Live training delivered 2-3 times a week
  • Weekly live Q&A sessions
  • Private weekly, monthly & quarterly one to one reviews in Zoom
  • Group training sessions with hot seats


  • You get to share your work & achievements with your coach & the group and get feedback & suggestions on how you can improve
  • You can share ideas & collaborate with other group members
  • You can meet people who are going through the same challenges as you
  • If you get stuck there is someone to get you unstuck
  • You can interact and ask as many questions as you need to
  • The content creator, your coach and their team are available to you


  • Depending on your learning style you may feel “too visible”
  • You will be held accountable (could be considered a Pro as well)

 “Learn as though you would never be able to master it; hold it as though you would be in fear of losing it.” – Confucius

2. Accountability

Online Training Course

As the content is delivered online with pre recorded material, unless there is an engaged private Facebook group, there doesn’t tend to be any accountability check in.


  • It’s entirely up to you whether you do the work or not (This could be considered a con, depending on your mindset! and attitude to implementation)


  • Left to your own devices and with nobody to keep you accountable, you may not complete the work.
  • Easy to get lost and give up when you get overwhelmed and confused by the content.

Online Coaching Programme

You’re part of something bigger now. Accountability is a huge part of being in a coaching programme.


  • You’ll be held accountable and will get the work done.
  • By completing all the training and being held accountable for taking action, you will see results.
  • You will feel compelled to complete the work because you are being asked about your progress.
  • You’re part of a team, who is cheering you on.


  • There is nowhere to hide.
  • You won’t be able to lie to yourself or put the work off for another day. If you do, you’ll only be cheating yourself.

Comfort zones are where dreams go to die ~ Russell Brunson,

3. Timescales

Online Training Course

Typically with an online course, you’ll be given lifetime access to the membership portal


  • You can complete the training & implement in your own time and at your own pace.


  • If you have a tendency to slack off, you may not complete the course or implement what you’ve learnt, so you could have wasted your money.

Online Coaching Programme

Most coaching programmes are for a set timescale, which will be determined by the amount of work that you will need to complete.

The time limit is usually on the coaching element and you will still have lifetime access to the coaching programme content.

My coaching programme “Explode Your Impact” is a 6 month programme, as I believe that you will need at least that much time to really master and implement all the concepts that I will teach you.


  • You are encouraged to take imperfect action to get the work done.


  • If you don’t do the work in the timescales, then you will lose access to the coach.

“When it comes down to it, nothing trumps execution.” ~ Gary Vaynerchuk

4. Available Content

Online Training Course

The content is prerecorded and predefined.


  • You can access the course content whenever you want to.


  • Depending on the quality of the course material, you may have further questions and will often need to look for answers online.
  • As the content is pre recorded, unless it is kept up to date, it may be out of date by the time you are watching it.
  • You have no way of knowing before you buy the course if it’s at the right experience level for you.
  • You may get overwhelmed with the content and give up.

Online Coaching Programme

As the content is both pre recorded and delivered live it can constantly be updated and adapted inline with current methods and trends.

The coaches can decide to include training on any topic that the students feel they need extra support with.


  • As the content is both pre recorded and delivered live you are getting up to date content.
  • The content can be adapted to meet students where they are in terms of skill and experience levels.


  • There are no cons as if the content isn’t available, then as a student you can request further training on a specific topic.

5. Results

Online Training Course

With an online course it’s more about information. You get access to the “how to”.


  • If you complete the work, you will gain the knowledge presented in the training modules.


  • Unless you implement what you learn in the course, you won’t get a result.

Online Coaching Programme

With a coaching programme, it’s all about getting you your desired result and outcome. You will typically get an on boarding call, where you have an opportunity to talk through your goals and ambitions and what you want to achieve.


  • Because you are getting all of your questions answered and being held accountable you can fully understand each concept and idea before moving on.
  • You are encouraged and supported at each step to complete the work and to take  massive imperfect action towards the desired result.


  • As with any programme, it will only work if you do.

Your results are your certification ~ Russell Brunson

6. Price

Online Training Course

An online course can cost anything from $197 – $1800 depending on the niche and topic. You are paying for course content and skills training.


  • Much lower point of entry, which could offer you a starting point.


  • Price isn’t necessarily a good indicator of how good the course content will be.

Online Coaching Programme

An online coaching programme can cost anything from $497 – $25000. 

The price will depend on the programme length, which can be anything from a 30 day bootcamp to a full 12 months of group coaching.

With an online coaching programme you’re paying for access to the coach and their knowledge and expertise as well as the content.


  • You can decide what’s right for you depending on your requirements and your level of experience.


  • Online Coaching tends to be more expensive because you will get high touch support and accountability coaching.
  • Price isn’t necessarily a good indicator of how good the course content will be.

“A real decision is measured by the fact that you’ve taken a new action. If there’s no action, you haven’t truly decided.” – Tony Robbins

So In conclusion, I would say that only you know yourself and how you will learn best.

It’s important to really think about what results you would like to get.

Also be truthful with yourself about what you will need in terms of support, not just with the implementation of the content, but also in terms of motivation and staying on track.

If you need any help, then feel free to DM me via the messenger icon on this page. I respond personally to all messages.

Good luck with choosing the right online training package.

Need help with scaling your online coaching business?

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