Writing Coach Vs Writing Consultant – Know the Differences

When I was studying my BA in Business, I thought it would be cool to be a management consultant. I could travel around, snooping, determining client problems, recommending solutions, and leaving. The client would do the boring implementation part.

When I became an adjunct/associate professor of English, teaching writing courses, my natural ways of dealing with students emerged, which involved a lot of one-on-one handholding and advising.

I’ve now decided to focus more fully on working with clients, something I’ve done over the years but rarely with much focus. However, I didn’t know the title of my services. Was I coach or a consultant?

After a bit of research, I discovered the following:

For a Coach:

1. A coach helps the client define, plan, and achieve her (or his) goals, whether relating to life goals or project goals.

2. A coach guides the client through all of the processes to achieve that goal, which often involves some or a lot of handholding: daily emails, daily to weekly phone calls, and other close contacts.

3. The coach teaches the client the steps to accomplishing the goal. And the coach has the client actually do the steps while supervised by the coach. Often the client is involved in self-discovery through this relationship. The Coach asks the right questions, prods and encourages the client to see beyond blocks, assumptions, and narrow views to new possibilities.

4. The coach works one-on-one with the client throughout the entire project. Sometimes small group gatherings are useful, but most of the work is one-on-one. The Coach can help with any part of the process but will not do the actual work.

5. A coach might work with a client for months or years, so the relationship is often a long-term one.

For a Consultant:

1. The Consultant is hired to solve a specific problem for the client.

2. The Consultant investigates the problem and determines solutions, sometimes doing the actual work, but often the client will do the work.

3. The consultant works independently, outside of the client’s workflow. When the problem is solved, the Consultant leaves.

Of course, the same person can offer both coaching and consulting services. Clients should know the differences so they can ask for the services they most need at the time. And Coaches and Consultants should know the differences so as not to confuse the clients.