Industry Analysis

Self-Help Market


Of note, the self-improvement market is “wide and encompasses a large variety of products and services which range from books to e-books, online courses, coaching programs, webinars, ‘academies’, ‘universities’, ‘masterminds’, masterclasses, conferences, mobile apps, etc.” As such, self-improvement and personal development are used interchangeably in the research provided. Additionally, the scope of the project as laid out is outside the typical parameters of a single research block and as such many of the insights, statistics, and data have been provided verbatim rather than as an analysis because of the time constraints.



United States

  • In 2016, the size of the self-improvement market was $9.9 billion and was expected to grow at a CAGR of 5.6% through 2022.
  • Thus, the current US size of the market would be estimated to be $12.31 billion.
  • Within the US market, some of the more popular subsections are represented as such:
    • Self-help audio books — 7.7% or approximately $947.87 million
    • Self-improvement books — 8.08% or approximately $994.648 million
    • Self-improvement apps — .25% or approximately $30.775 million
    • Personal coaching services — 10.10% or approximately $1.243 billion
    • Motivational speakers — 10.10% or approximately $1.243 billion
    • “The skillset enhancement segment accounted for the largest share of over 30% in 2019 and is expected to maintain its lead from 2020 to 2027.”
    • “The self-awareness segment is expected to expand at the highest CAGR of 6.6% during the forecast period due to the increasing need among individuals to analyze their capabilities for better decision making. Moreover, self-awareness is crucial to a business professional to boost productivity, employee communication, trust, and engagement to improve the organization’s overall performance.”
    • “The consumer training market in 2018 was worth $719 million. Dale Carnegie and Sandler Training are at least somewhat responsible for the 17.2% revenue growth that year.”
  • ** Please note, the above figures represent aspects of the market which could encompass significant crossover, the research is not intended to imply that these parts total the exact size of the market.

Personal Development Market


  • According to Richard Step, the “top three self-help topics are: Confidence (10.2%), Career/Interview (7.8%) and Motivation (7%). On the other hand, only 0.8% of the people are interested in learning how to manage stress, which seems to be the root of most personal issues.”
  • Millennials are driving the growth of the self-improvement industry; 94% of millennials reported making personal improvement commitments and said they’d be willing to spend nearly $300 a month on self-improvement.”
  • Millennials spend twice as much as Baby Boomers on self-improvement such as working out, life coaching and well-being apps.
  • However, “the average consumer of self-help products is a woman between the age of 40 and 50.” About “70% of all industry customers are women, and most of them live on the East Coast or the West Coast of the United States.”
  • In 2018, ‘Girl, wash your face’ by author Rachel Hollis “was ranked #3 in top 10 best-selling print books in the US (with) over 1.28 million copies sold and ‘Becoming’ by Michelle Obama was #1 with over 3.4 million copies sold.”
  • In 2018, “U.S. consumers spent $32 million on self-care mobile apps.” This figure represented a 40% year-over-year increase.
  • “The rising popularity of technology-driven platforms for self-growth amongst millennials is also expected to positively impact market growth during the forecast period. State-of-the-art digital technology allows individuals to take up self-improvement programs and learn from any remote location in the world. Key market participants in the personal development industry are leveraging the benefits of podcasting, on-demand courses, e-books, audio books, and other online platforms to expand their geographical footprint by offering their courses worldwide.”
  • “The market is witnessing a surge in the utilization of online mediums for self-improvement. Hence, the industry is being increasingly regulated owing to data security and copyright concerns. For instance, the U.S. government has undertaken distance and online learning courses within its jurisdiction in the Department of Education. Service providers are switching to virtual events, such as online workshops, seminars, webinars, and live chats, to sustain their business growth in this pandemic by letting people leverage the personal development program benefits from their remote location. Moreover, the blend of advanced technologies, such as deep learning, Augmented Reality (AR), and Artificial Intelligence (AI), used for personal development technology platforms is further propelling the market growth.”
  • “Self-help books are an essential part of this industry. According to self-help books statistics by Goodreads, while three-quarters of the overall readers are women, 62.5% of self-help books readers are also women. However, the majority of self-help book authors are men.”
  • “NPD reports that unit sales of self-help books have increased at 11% CAGR in only six years (from 2013) and have reached 18.6 million in 2019.” Additionally, “the number of published self-help books even outpaced the growth of sales. The number of unique ISBNs has grown from 30,897 in 2014 to 85,253 in 2019.”


According to Market Research, the following five trends are being seen in the personal development market.

1. Demographic Changes

  • ‘Traditionally, the Baby Boomers have been the main consumers of self-improvement. They still are an important group, but the tide is shifting. Millennials now are the largest population group and represent the future for this market, but there are few experts now catering to them.”

2. Use of Connectivity

  • “More content (such as MP3 downloads, e-books, webinars, online courses, ‘academies’, ‘universities’, and masterminds, etc.) is being delivered online, and self-help apps are starting to take off.”

3. Personal Touch

  • Personal coaching is the second fastest growing industry worldwide. “The latest ICF and PriceWaterhouseCoopers’ global coaching study found that the U.S. coaching market was worth $955 million in 2015. Marketdata expects this to rise to $1.02 billion in 2016. The “average” U.S. coach makes $62,000/year. Nearly all motivational speakers offer coaching services now. However, the field is loosely regulated and incompetence is a common complaint. Just about anyone can call themselves a life coach.”

4. Ease and Cost

  • “It’s harder to get consumers to take a flight to a seminar or retreat, get three days off from work, and pay the registration fee and hotel stay. This costs thousands. Consumers today want 24/7 access to personal development programs, at home, with no travel. Especially Millennials, who generally have limited budgets. That’s why the internet has become the preferred distribution method. It’s also good for gurus, who can reach more people more cost-effectively and more profitably.”

5. Accountability

  • “The personal development field has had a rocky past. Many personal coaches are not qualified. Suze Orman’s financial advice has been criticized, Robert Kiyosaki filed for bankruptcy for one of his companies. People died at James Ray’s sweat lodge programs. The Ubiquitous infomercial pitchman Kevin Trudeau is in jail. His widely seen infomercials promoting his books were filled with unsubstantiated health, diet, and financial remedies that earned him a fortune. Consumers are jaded and are questioning guru credentials more often. Future gurus will be held to a higher standard, and must produce real, measurable results and practical skills. Much of the past self-help marketing created unrealistic expectations. And, self-help may be most useful for people who don’t actually need self-help.”
  • Eric Plantenberg, the chief sales and marketing officer at Humm Kombucha in Bend, Oregon, states “personal development courses can be extremely valuable to people, but that industry is highly populated by amateur enthusiasts who start a coaching or training company without any qualifications.”


  • Building trust and authenticity is vital to succeeding in this market. Recent data shows that “50% of buyers buy on belief or their trust in the brand and 67% of first-time customers will make a purchase based on your values if those values align with their own.” It is important that “everything you say, do, and write should be consistent with your personality, your values, and what you’re passionate about. If it’s not, the deception will come across in your content.”
  • Neil Patel urges new businesses to implement blogging as part of their content strategy. “Businesses that blog get 67% more leads than those that never blog.” Further, it is suggested that “81% of consumers trust the information they read on blogs.”

Personal Development Market

  • According to David Risley at Blog Marketing Academy, it is vital to utilize the below scale to assess any personal development blog marketing plan.

Personal Development Market

Personal Development Market

  • Ronnie Nijmeh, of, emphasizes the need to be “hyper-specific (with a) targeted niche, do lots of competitive and keyword research, then offer something valuable that no one else can match.”
  • Dan Smith, of Smith Publicity, recommends the following tips for self-help authors which “can help make the difference between a successful, impactful book publicity campaign and one that produces marginal, average results.”
  • Emphasize your Credentials – “Don’t be shy about sharing your expertise. Let people know that you know what you are “talking” about. Make sure your academic and career experience is clearly noted both within press releases and in the bio. Make them prominent on your website and social media platforms.”
  • Promote the Author, Not the Book – “Tying into the first point about credentials, media outlets are going to want to talk to you because, as we say, “no one interviews a book!” Your book opens media doors, provides credibility, and a newsworthy angle, but you are the expert. Exposure for you equates to exposure for your book, and vice versa.”
  • Write More – “Byline articles are a key component of self-help book marketing. These are articles written by you, typically between 800 and 1200 words, listing you as the writer. You (or your publicist) then pitch and offer these articles to appropriate media outlets. Print and online media outlets love quality articles because they provide ready-made content. Keep in mind that these articles are not promotional in nature—they’re informative. You need to offer advice that helps people improve their lives in some way, solves a problem, or provides information that hasn’t been offered before. Promotion for you comes at the end of the article with a brief bio.”
  • Create a Digital Footprint – “Self-help and wellness authors should have well-established, robust, and active social media platforms. Don’t over do it; focus on two or even just one platform. Carefully assess which platforms are best for your messaging. Facebook and Twitter are the most common for authors, but Instagram may be well suited for you and your book too.”
  • Don’t Focus on Book Sales – “As a self-help book author, you might be a consultant, operate a small business, or want to secure speaking engagements. Books and media coverage can be extremely powerful marketing tools that generate prospective clients, increase business, and/or lead to invitations for public speaking.”
  • Be Prepared – “Self-help authors are popular broadcast interview guests. When it comes to radio and TV interviews, you need to be able to convey key points in a succinct manner. Producers and hosts do not like long-winded answers. They also don’t, of course, want one-word answers to questions! Watch a TV interview with an author and you’ll see polished guests give short, to the point answers to questions. If hosts/interviewers want guests to elaborate, they ask. On TV, you may have as little as four minutes, or at most, likely right to ten.”
  • Availability – “One of the biggest mistakes we’ve seen self-help book authors make is not being available when a campaign is underway. You’ve written a great book, it’s being promoted…you must be an active and available participant! You can’t expect to sit on the sidelines and watch good things happen. You are a big part of making those good things happen.”
  • Be Creative – “Because competition for media coverage is so intense, you will likely need to move out of your expert comfort zone at times, or to use just a small part of your book or expertise as a means to get coverage.”
Glenn is the Lead Operations Research Analyst at Simple Manifestation with experience in research, statistical data analysis and interview techniques. A holder of degree in Economics. A true specialist in quantitative and qualitative research.

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