I was just reading the topic discussion “Over-Zealous Patrons” and it got me thinking about how we can value our own time as creators, maintain healthy boundaries and get more stuff done! I think this especially pertains to women - as we have been socialized as “people pleasers”. (I know this is stereotypical, but it’s at least true for me and many women I know.)
ANYWAY - I wanted to share this thing I started doing. I’m a writer in Portland and am known pretty well here. I’ve also lived in Oregon my whole life and have many friends and acquaintances here. One thing that happens to me quite often is that people ask if they can buy me a cup of coffee and “pick my brain” about writing, art, patreon etc. These are usually people I don’t know or haven’t seen in a decade.
The thing is, my time is more valuable than a cup of coffee and I seriously don’t have time to do this. Especially if they pose it as a fair exchange. (That really annoys me.)
So, I just started sending them a link to a shop item on my squarespace site: “Creative Counsel” - a one hour meeting with me as a writing coach.
I did have a couple actual clients for a while, but mostly it’s just a way for me to say that my time is valuable and I can’t get coffee and get all the blood drained out of my body. Especially if they aren’t already active creatively, especially if I don’t know them.
I have also made a concerted effort to make exceptions for people who may be disadvantaged in some way, and may not have access to the same privileges as me. But - everyone else? Sorry - You’re paying!
I recommend this tactic! Cheers!
SMART. Good advice!!
I started writing about crafts and how to make things many years ago, and went through a period where my inbox was filled with often pushy requests to “tell me how to make this”. These were less about asking me to write a new lesson when I had time, and more about expecting me to email back with step by step instructions.
About the same time, I started creating online classes for pay, which started a whole new crop of emails: “just tell me how to make it, because I don’t have time/money for a class”.
Declining to provide the requested information often resulted in angry, hostile responses. People felt they were entitled to my time and know how. And these people were generally not the ones who purchased products or finished work from me, or supported the projects I created in any way. They were just random strangers, expecting me to be their personal how-to concierge.
I finally wrote up a page on my site with rates for “private mentoring” that were pretty steep. Anyone who emailed with requests for instructions was sent a canned reply, referring them to that page, which also explained that I was simply overwhelmed with those types of inquiries. I also added a “not finding what you’re looking for?” link to that page on my how-to web site, and my class page.
Problem solved. Once I attached value to that time, and made those random requests from strangers part of my business, they were much easier to deal with.
Ha ha…excactly. It’s like people need to see in black and white that time=money!
while I can absolutely relate to the frustration of this “pick your brain” (ie take up your time!) scenario - this is also an absolutely beautiful opportunity! without doing any marketing research on your own at all, these individuals are informing you of what your potential clientele wants to know! this is AMAZING feedback to then build content from - create Q&A videos, host live videos and webinars, include a pitch at the end, create a free ebook, and tell them if they’d like more here’s the link to buy an hour of your time. it seems counter intuitive, but the more you give away, the more people will buy! and this is absolutely true of all the great coaches. the key is to do so in a way that doesn’t suck up YOUR time. so again, create something once - and you’re done! from now on it’s just a link to some truly valuable information, giving those individuals the chance to know the kind of impact you can make in their life, and leading to more customers/clients/paid work in the end (not to mention I’m sure more patrons). hope that resonates with you! Thank you!
Well, you would think that, but in reality, the overwhelming majority of the people contacting me for a freebie are:
A) asking for a lesson on something I don’t do, and/or have no interest in doing.
B) asking for a how-to on a piece that is already finished, which I haven’t shot any step by step photography or video on.
C) asking for a lesson on something that’s way too complex to either replicate or break into steps.
After endless years of writing how-to content, I’m painfully aware of what makes a good lesson, and what doesn’t, and very often, the free lesson requests coming in are simply not lesson-able. By the time I post photos of a finished piece, I’ve already thought this through, and shot all the lessons I can squeeze from it, because if artwork can do double duty as a how-to or speed through, I’m on it.
Maybe once a year, someone requests something that I think is a good idea for a lesson—but that request invariably comes from a patron, who has seen me do something many times, and finally thinks to ask me why.
Also, I should probably say that the majority of requests come from people who, as I mentioned earlier, have never supported my projects, or purchased anything from me—or even left a comment on an article I’ve written. They are usually complete strangers, sticking their hands out for free information, who have no interest in, say, taking an already existing class on what they’ve requested. All they want is for me to reply with step-by-step instructions for what they’ve asked. It’s kinda pushy and rude.
I LOVE this idea of showing people the value of your time via “private mentoring.” What a smart solution.
@marthagrover, this is great advice. It’s really tough out there given how much people undervalue writing work and writers’ time. My Patreon is devoted to writing feedback and tea rituals as a way to try and recoup some of that knowledge into tangible packets that people can sign up for, but I’m new at this so who knows if it’ll work. This is inspiring though.