I told the following story to a new coach recently. And then I thought I would share it with you. I considered turning it into 5 steps to pricing effectively or something else equally boring and instructional. Instead I decided to just tell you a story.
Pricing is so weird.
It freaks almost everyone out. I’ve been in business for 15 years, mostly providing services. There was some Multi-Level stuff tossed in there too. When I did massage and yoga I just charged what almost everyone else charged and raised my rates every few years. When I did business and marketing writing, I guessed every single time. That was a ridiculous business anyway because I was completely out of my element. I had no entrepreneurial skills and little to no business writing skills. I could write dysfunctional short stories, but no one was buying those.
Then when I became a coach I priced according to hope, prayer and some magic. Which didn’t really work. And so I cruised around, charging between 0 and $225/hour. Here’s the sordid tale of how it all went down, full of embarrassing mistakes and all.
Once upon a time…
I spent a weekend with 100 or so coaches in training and Martha Beck, our magical and brilliant leader. This was about halfway through my 8 month coach training. Martha and her master coaches levitated people on the stage, bent spoons and saw into the future using the power of Love and arm strength.
“The arm thing” is a way to muscle test different ideas. You hold your arm out in front of you and have someone else test your ability to hold it up. When you land on something True, your arm strength is very solid. If it’s too low or too high, you’ll be weaker. My good friend and I took a walk, coached each other, planned our future and did “the arm thing,” to determine our price points. My arm said that I should charge $225/session.
Our hopeful heroine put her magical plan into action
So I went home and rolled that price out to my massage and yoga email list. Those people had been paying me $65/hour and I offered a $65/hour coaching session through the end of the year (about 5 weeks after the email went out), at which time I would raise my rates to $225. I prayed and poured so much Love into that letter.
And everyone said WTF! And Good luck!!
I hadn’t done anything to prepare my list or educate them about what they’d be getting for $225/hour. I was unprepared and so were they. Not 1 person bought. I received lots of well wishes, some puzzled “what is life coaching, exactly?” and several congratulations on a very well written letter.
Back to life. Back to reality…
Meanwhile, I charged $20 to a few people who couldn’t afford more. That amount felt like enough to sting a little bit but not be prohibitive. I also continued to charge $65 to people I knew or who had been referred by people I knew. I told them that I charged $225 for strangers but that because we knew each other, I was giving them the $65 rate. $65 was easy for me to charge because I’d been very comfortably charging that for massage and private yoga sessions.
I couldn’t get behind the $225 rate. I felt incredibly uncomfortable whenever I talked about it. I didn’t understand it either, since my arm had so eagerly landed on $225. I still don’t understand what that was about, but maybe I’ll find myself at $225 at some point and that will be a magical price–when I’m ready. When my clients are ready. When the stars all align and so forth.
This is where your crystal laden hoo-ha comes in
I dropped my rate to $100, which felt easy. I didn’t go down until I felt very confident. It was very important to me not to jump around too much, so I stayed there until I was fully ready to change. Because I’ve been in flakey industries for so long, I make a very conscious effort to do what I say I’ll do and not blow sunshine up anyone’s crystal laden hoo-ha. Although I am in favor of crystals and if your hoo-ha is laden with them, even better.
Then that felt too low and not professional enough so I raised it to $175, but not until I felt like I could talk about it proudly without any weird energy at all. When I raised it I got more clients and I did a better job as a coach.
Pricing 101: charge less than you’re worth.
Make sure you’re worth a lot more than you’re charging and then the decision to work with you is ridiculously easy. I don’t mean charge only a little because you’re freaked out. I just mean way overdeliver. And make sure you’re well worth what you’re asking for.
When my clients tell me they don’t feel like they’re worth what they’re charging, I believe them. I don’t tiptoe around and try to help them feel better about what they’re charging. I ask them why they’re worth it and tell them they better be worth it or else they’ll feel gross asking for it. Then we look at what they’re doing to earn their fee. This is good stuff, people.
This brings up 8,257 issues of worth.
And what is worth, anyway. And who decides. Childhood. Legacies. Old, old, old stories. Have I mentioned I freaking love entrepreneurship because it will take you straight to your Stuff?
Charge whatever feels very fair.
Don’t beat yourself up for charging $40. Or $5. Or $300. Don’t. Most people aren’t coaching very much at all, for $40 or $10 or anything. They’re not. I talk to a lot of coaches and most aren’t making money.
Do not base the state of your business on what other people are doing. Or what they say they’re doing on their website.
Look at my above example. I am sure that when my classmates saw $225 on my website, it really freaked them out. They didn’t know that I was actually charging $20 and $65 and no one, to this day, has ever paid me $225 for a lone coaching session. I was just doing my best to find my way and I wasn’t being devious. I wasn’t trying to pretend that I was earning $225. I wanted someone to pay it, but it wasn’t happening. So, seriously. Don’t believe what you see on the internet.
This bears repeating: Don’t believe what you see on the internet.
Now you. What’s 1 thing you would have done differently regarding pricing in the early days of your business? I’d love to hear it in the comments.