My work is based on trust. This not only applies to past clients I’ve already worked with and know, but I pre-emptively extend that to you, even if we haven’t worked together yet.
Earlier this year, I was part of a silent Mindfulness retreat and my focus for the day was trust. Primarily trust of myself. I literally spent hours practicing feeling trust in my body, and thinking about what I would be doing if I truly trusted my own inner guidance. I was somewhat surprised to hear my inner voice shouting, “you would switch your pricing over to sliding scale already!” “Okay” I answered, “I have some questions and I have some doubt, but I am listening.”
During the breaks of the retreat I jotted down notes for this blog, notes about the video I’ll post soon, notes about how I would explain it on my website. As an aside here, I have done silent retreats before and they don’t usually result in business advice. I was a little weirded out by it, if you want to know the truth. But if I was going to set my intention to learn to trust, I couldn’t very well distrust what came up for me. Well played, inner voice.
The next week I started talking about this sliding scale with a few friends and advisors who—once I actually laid out the ins and outs of my plan and explained the whole trust thing—were (mostly) won over to the idea.
Serendipitously, The Art of Asking by Amanda Palmer also showed up via interlibrary loan. I had ordered it because of a new interest in AFP and the timing couldn’t have been better. It was all about connection, and trust. And though I’m not a musician crowd sourcing funding for my projects, I took a lot away from the message of vulnerability and the connection that results. If you are a creative person—scratch that—if you are a person I suggest you read this book, or listen to her TED talk.
My main hesitation around setting up a sliding scale fee structure is simply that I’ve been told not to by a bunch of people who, in my opinion, really have their shit together. Here’s their sound reasoning against sliding scale in a nutshell.
- People will take advantage of me, I’ll end up stuck doing a bunch of work for low pay, and end up struggling financially.
- I have been self employed for most of my adult life, of course I’ve struggled at times, this is a brave post for another day. It wasn’t however, because my clients were taking advantage of me.
- No one will hire me if I don’t look like I value my work enough to charge what it’s worth.
- This is possibly true, that some people won’t hire me because I work in an unconventional manner… however they likely weren’t going to hire me anyways.
- You can’t let your clients decide how much to pay you because they have no idea how much time and effort goes into a session.
- This is likely true, however people that don’t value what I do don’t become my clients anyway.
- If people don’t value your work, they won’t take coaching seriously and they won’t put enough effort into it for it to work.
- This is totally true. But if someone isn’t prioritizing the work, they usually just stop booking sessions.
There has also been good reason for me not to implement a sliding scale fee structure in the past. For perhaps the first decade I did this work I was also struggling personally with nearly debilitating self-esteem issues. I think it’s a good thing that I didn’t try a sliding scale fee while I had trouble valuing myself since I would have been doing it because I was scared to charge what my work was worth. But now it’s different. For me, experience came along with a deep belief in—and respect for—my work as a coach and facilitator. And recently I’m practicing extending this trust to myself in general. I’m not embracing a sliding scale because I’m scared my work isn’t good enough or that no one else will value it. I trust my inner guidance. I trust you.
My actual experience over the last 18 years of coaching has been quite different from the very reasonable concerns mentioned above. Over the years my price has gone up to reflect my experience, and locally it’s stayed the same to reflect the average income of people who live here. When I start working with someone, I usually get an idea what kind of rate makes sense for them and as long as I can afford it, I work with them at that rate.
In every one of these cases save one, I was very happy with my compensation. In my actual experience, people who set aside time to work with me are committed. They do great, courageous work to transform something in their lives, and I support them in the ways I know how. We trust each other in our work together.
Rather than being underpaid or under-appreciated by my clients I have often been given more than I asked for in the form of thank you cards, good referrals (okay I should ask for these more, my business depends on them!), and yes actual money. Clients often give me a raise when they get a raise, or they send money to help me afford to take on a low paying client who needs help. What I’m setting up is essentially just a way to make what is already happening easier for everyone involved.
My work is based on trust. What I’ve realized recently is that this not only applies to the clients I’ve already worked with and know, but that I can pre-emptively extend that to you, even if we haven’t worked together yet. Chances are if we don’t work together it’s not because you’re going to screw me over or don’t value me, it’s because at this time we’re not a fit. That’s okay, if you’re looking for a coach there’s an ever increasing amount of us out there. Find one that’s right for you because you’re worth it!