When you offer a service that one might find in the ‘new age’ section of the classifieds, it can be difficult to set a price on those services. Depending on where your offering lies on the spectrum, from massage to reiki to tarot to spellcasting, there is an ongoing debate about whether it’s ethical to charge for those services at all. Services like these and more also tend to be undervalued by society in general, either because they are considered ‘whipped cream’ (not essential), or because they offer a benefit that is difficult to measure.
Nevermind the trouble that comes with constantly trying to prove you’re not a fraud or out to bilk the elderly out of their retirement savings–let’s save that lovely topic for another day. If you’re a trustworthy, hard-working, intuitive soul who wants to offer a service that falls into the “Spiritual” category, you’ve got your work cut out for you when it comes to setting your prices.
Considerations like realizing you may offer a spiritual service but you’ve also gotta eat may help to find balance within the dilemma. Telling yourself that you’re not charging for the service, but for everything that goes along with it – such as the space to rent and the time invested on your training and in session on a client’s behalf may be strategic mental gymnastics to avoid the problem. Standard advice on this topic includes listening to your intuition, looking at the price ranges and experience levels that your colleagues offer, or offering a sliding fee scale or trade. These are all good places to start. But there’s a few additional things I figured out along the way in my own astrology practice over the last 20 years, so here’s my
two three cents.
Very little is more frustrating than a client who schedules an appointment with you and then just doesn’t show, or cancels at the last minute. It is a good idea to build safeguards in wherever you can so you aren’t left without compensation for work you’ve already done or time blocked out and unused. My personal method is to ask my clients to pay me electronically when I begin the prep work on their astrology reading, which is about a week before their appointment. I tell them that they can purchase their reading at any time that is convenient before xx date. This also prevents me from investing work that may not be compensated because if I don’t receive their payment, I can gently remind the client that I’m ready to get started on their work and ask if they still want to move forward with the reading.
I do not accept money at the time of the appointment. Not only does it help both me and my client avoid potential discomfort when switching from an emotional or spiritual topic to something as mundane and practical as money, but it also ensures I don’t forget, which I often do when I’m in that space with someone. We can both rest easy, knowing that part is already out of the way and we can focus on the good stuff without distraction or anxiety.
I have not had a client who had a problem with this policy and have not had a problem with uncompensated work since. However, in the past, I tried to implement cancellation policies and similar safeguards and found that they backfired. The nature of this work is most often emotional and with that intention, I don’t want a client who is resentful or one that I trapped into being there because of policy. Yes, it may be a valuable lesson for them to learn to follow through with their commitments, or maybe not to second-guess their own worth by spending money on something to feed their soul, but I’m not their mommy and it’s not for me to decide what they should be learning. I think it works best when you do what you can to insulate yourself from this hazard, and then let it go.
Stop With the Discounts, Already.
Offering discounts, coupons and sales are a staple in business. Similarly, introductory freebies or comparable offerings are a valid way to acquaint people to the spectrum of what you can offer (as long as you make your peace with the fact that many people will simply be looking for the freebie and will not go further). Yet, while a sale is a tried-and-true method to get new clients in the door, that may only be the case when price is a major and only deterrent. Yes, everyone loves a discount, but if you’re putting what you offer on sale constantly, it makes it difficult to value it at its full price. Some people may balk at what I charge for an astrology reading, but if they’ve done their homework, they’ll know I’m on the low end of the spectrum when compared to my colleagues of comparable experience and knowledge. Frequently, those who do find my services too expensive are expecting a psychic hotline experience or a roadside carnival reading — not what I offer.
People don’t hit that ‘buy’ button for a lot of reasons; perhaps they’re window shopping or doing some research on what’s out there. Perhaps they aren’t sure what they’ll be receiving for the price. People also tend to react strongly to the way something is displayed in a store – and websites are no different. And, of course, people need to know your service exists before they can begin to deliberate on whether they’ll buy it at the price you’re offering. If you’re not getting the clients, it’s not a bad idea to consider all angles of your presentation, not just the price.
Essentially, if you aren’t getting the clients, don’t skip right to the assumption that lowering your price, even temporarily, will be a magic bullet. If you want to have a client appreciation sale, or offer a discount to celebrate your business’ anniversary, then certainly do–it’s a great way to celebrate. Offering a discount in the spirit of enthusiasm rather than desperation is often the more fruitful experience.
Trust Your Instincts in Choosing Clients.
This may not be specifically financial, but it’s often for financial reasons that we might be tempted to take on a client that we feel uneasy about. If you’re getting alarm bells louder than thunder when you encounter a potential client, it may be a no-brainer to say no-thank-you. However, it’s the subtle uneasiness that may be tempting to ignore, pushing away the quiet, nagging feeling and rationalizing it away before it ever fully reaches the mind’s center stage.
In general, it’s kind practice to give people the benefit of the doubt, and valuable lessons can be learned even when a risk doesn’t pay off. Maybe you’ll get lucky, but nightmare clients are a reality and the risk is simply not worth it. You don’t have to assume that the potential client is a bad person or intends you harm; chalk it up to it being bad timing or that it’s simply not meant to be a love connection and move on. It doesn’t have to be anyone’s fault or a malicious rejection.
In a word, desperation or devaluing your services and yourself tends to bring starvation and diminishment, not abundance and greatness. We all want our business to thrive and in your kind of business, you’re probably a one-person show. So feed that employee good things and pay them what they deserve.