I couldn’t handle the amount of people who were asking me to coach them. Even though I coach over the phone, and often in my pajamas, it takes a lot of energy and I can’t do more than two calls a day. It’s not like there aren’t other demands on my time and energy: I homeschool my kids, I have a VC-backed startup, and I am supposedly paying heed to the most obvious marriage advice in the world that says to make your spouse a priority.
So I raised my prices.
I started out at $250 an hour because I thought I was going to hate coaching because I hate talking on the phone, and I didn’t think I could stomach talking on the phone for less than $250/hour.
But it turned out that I really liked coaching on the phone. People who ask for coaching are generally smart and insightful because it takes an exceptional person to ask an outsider for advice. And I didn’t like having to turn people away because I was over booked.
So I raised my price to $350/hour. Which worked out perfectly because I still attracted the same type of people, but just a tad fewer so that I was able to say yes to everyone.
My brother said they can’t deal with the fact that we have only one bathroom for so many people.
It’s true we have only one bathroom. But my boys will just pee outside if someone’s in the bathroom. And since we are really rural, in a pinch, I will pee outside as well.
But I can see how this is not really okay for visitors. And I love my brothers so much and I want them to visit me so I decided to build a guesthouse. And to pay for it I raised my rates to $500/hour.
I figured the last time I raised my rates it was fine. So it would be fine this time.
But this time the clientele changed. It turns out that in order to afford $500 for career advice, you need to have a pretty amazing career. And in order to have an amazing career you need to have made careful, systematic decisions for most of your life.
I didn’t like coaching only one type of person. And also, I have to admit that each time I found myself coaching someone who makes $2 million a year at some huge company, I thought about how I’m nuts for charging just $500. I should be charging $5000.
I did some research about how to figure out how much to charge for yourself:
A site aimed at web analytics people suggests detailed evidence-based analysis to figure out how to price yourself. And, proving stereotypes are stereotypes because they are accurate, a site aimed at creatives suggests that to price yourself, you should go with your gut and keep all your options open.
In case those of you who are not freelancers are despairing that you are getting nothing from this post, here you go: Bloomberg recommends that you price yourself like a house. Which means you disregard what you negotiated last time and look at what the market can bear.
But even better: As a general rule the sex industry is ahead of everyone, for everything, including freelancer pricing. On the site TrickAdvisor.com, freelance prostitutes list themselves multiple times, with multiple names and profiles so they can appeal to a wider range of people.
After getting totally sidetracked by that sex industry research, (and finding out, among other things, that men in a committed relationship subconsciously try to stay away from women who are ovulating) I decided on my own strategy for how to price myself.
I decided I need to figure out what I’m working toward, and how many hours I want to work, and then determine the hourly rate to meet my goal.
But when I did that, I came up with $1000 an hour. Even if I gave up on a cute little guest house porch, I was still at $850 an hour.
Then I decided that I should price myself so the work is most enjoyable. You want to attract the client that makes your work most fulfilling to you. And for my coaching business, that is $350. I love coaching the people who stretch to pay that rate, and I still get the excitement of talking with people who could pay fifty times that rate.
And proving we are most creative when we’re desperate for cash, I thought maybe I could rent out the guesthouse each week of the summer and then it would pay for itself. Or maybe I could do a startup weekend at my guest house. It would be like fifteen people in a three room house though… So maybe I could sell it to MTV as a reality show… Or maybe I could build the guest house and set the rent too high for anyone to book it, but I could deduct all my gardening expenses because I have a little farm-based B and B business. You’d be horrified to know how lucrative it would be for me to deduct all my gardening expenses.
I did arrive at a solution, though. I’m not building a guesthouse. I’m building a bathroom. But I’m keeping the door locked except for when we have visitors. Because the only thing worse than having to pay for another bathroom is to have to pay for it and then clean it.