Success Again!

Someone else has paid something for the ‘give freely receive freely’ qigong course I have put online.  This is only the second payment to come through, and it was a very small payment, but still I see it as success!  More evidence that people will voluntarily pay for something they see as having value, even though they could just take it without paying anything and there would be no repercussions.

For me this is another small piece of evidence that maybe it is possible to live in this way.  I look forward to more evidence in the future, hopefully the payments for the qigong course will become a constant stream as more people hear about it and find the value in it.

If you haven’t seen the course, it is online here:


Success! – first online payment for my online qigong course

I’m excited.  The first payment has come through for my online qigong course.  I had hoped people who use the course would start making some payments soon, but had thought I might possibly need to wait til they completed the course (12 weeks) before they started paying.

So this is great.  Evidence that at least some people viewing the course recognize the value in it and are willing to make a voluntary contribution in return for it.  I hope this is the first of many to come.

If you haven’t seen the course, you can check it out in the link below if you are interested.

Small update on the GFRF online qigong course

So I’ve enabled advertising on a select few of the videos for the online qigong course that I have created.  I wanted to keep it advertising free so as to compare returns of putting the courses up in different ways and also just so people wouldn’t have to deal with the ads, but I noticed something from my other youtube channels.  In preparation for putting these courses online I enabled advertising on my old channels with videos I put up awhile ago.  What was interesting was that after enabling advertising my video views went up significantly.  I later found out that youtube actively promotes your videos with enabled advertising, which makes sense as they make more money that way.

While I wanted to keep the course advertising free I also want people to see the course and benefit from it.  So I’ve enabled the ads on just a few key videos that it should not really impact on the learning as they aren’t really the types of videos that a learner would watch over and over.  I think this is a good practical compromise that will lead to more people finding the course and being able to still use most of the videos advertising free.

My First GFRF Online Course is now live!

It is a 12 week online qigong course.  It has been a huge amount of work putting it together.  About six weeks of loooong days to get it ready using every spare moment to work on it, and that doesn’t include the years of work preparing the material in the course in the first place.

Part of me is nervous about putting so much work into something that potentially I will not be paid a cent for, because hey, I have to be realistic – I need to eat and have somewhere to live just like everyone else, and if my time and effort is going into something like this that means its not going into something else that might help to pay my bills.

But I’m excited to have it up and at this point don’t really care if people pay me anything for it or not.  I just want people to find out about it, use it and benefit from it.

This video gives an introduction:


You can see the whole course here:

and like the facebook page here:

Let me know what you think!

Phase Three of my Give Freely Receive Freely Experiment

I know I haven’t completed phase two of my GFRF experiment yet (offering workshops on this basis), but I am already working on phase three.

Online courses

Phase three is going to be online courses offered on a give freely receive freely basis.  I think online courses are a great fit for expanding my use of this concept.  This is because there are between low and zero incremental costs for additional users of the material.

Problems with using printed materials for GFRF

At the moment I offer home study courses for some of  the things that I teach, these courses involve books, printed study guides and DVDs.  The problem for me in offering these courses on a give freely receive freely basis is the fixed cost of producing these physical materials.  There is a certain amount I need to receive for each course to just cover the cost of production, let alone to compensate me for my work and provide me with money to live on.  This would make it difficult for me to give these truly ‘freely’ at the moment as I do not have sufficient resources to lose money on the production of these if  people did not give sufficient in return (and people often seem to underestimate the cost of putting things like this together).  Online however, there will still be set-up costs, but once established each new user will have close to zero incremental cost.  This leaves me in the position of only having to re-coup my initial set-up costs and minimal running costs before I start to receive money for my work – ie money I can pay my living expenses with.

This means that it doesn’t really matter if some people take advantage of the give freely receive freely exchange, as if there are people who pay nothing or not a realistic amount for the courses, then at least it will not really be costing me anything.  Then I just have to rely on those people who do ‘get’ the concept to deal fairly with me.

Getting a fair exchange

I believe there are enough fairminded people out there who will voluntarily pay a fair price for the training they receive to make this work.  But I also realize that for many people the GFRF concept takes some understanding, and many people will fall into the old ‘pay as little as you can’ mentality which comes from the way our current exchange environment is structured.

Prompting payment

I have given this quite a bit of thought as to how I deliver the online content I am preparing, and I see this also as an opportunity to experiment.  I think a key to making the GFRF idea work is helping people to understand that there is a real person behind the product they are using that has put a lot of time and effort into it and that they need to be paid in order for them to be able to continue to provide the product to them and other people, and in particular they need strong prompts to actually make the payment.  I know that even in a price based exchange people often forget to pay and need strong reminders before they do. (Incidentally I actually think that this would be less of a problem in a well established GFRF community due to some of the underlying psychology, but I think will certainly be a major issue when people are new to the idea).

Different delivery models

So I am planning three initial courses all set up in different ways which offer different opportunities for payment prompts.

1. Open Access on Youtube – No advertising

I will use this for my first course which will be on qigong.  This gives people very easy access to the material.  Payment prompts will be included in videos at the start and end of the course, in the written video information that shows below the video and in some of the downloadable material at the associated website.

All these prompts are quite passive, in that they can be seen and ignored, or the person can think ‘I’ll do it later’ and then forget about it quite easily.  But there will be several of them, so hopefully this will be enough to prompt some people to actually follow through and make payment.  It is also easy to set up.

2. Open Access on Youtube – With advertising

Very similar to option one, but with ads enabled.  This will mean that even if people do not pay me due to the prompts, I will still receive some payment from advertising shown along with the videos.  I am somewhat hesitant to use this (to do with my thoughts on advertising and society – more on this in another post), but figure it is a good opportunity to experiment and see the different results.  I don’t expect a high number of people to follow through on the relatively passive payment prompts, so using advertising would ensure that I get at least some money for the people viewing my videos (it is not a lot, but can add up if there are enough people watching).  I will be able to compare the money received from my course without advertising to the one with.  If enough money comes in without advertising, I can always turn the advertising off later.  Alternatively if not enough money comes in, I can always turn the advertising on on the other course.

I will use a self defence course to test this model.

3. Pay what you want ‘Pay Wall’

The final option I am planning to test initially is to create a ‘Pay Wall’ where people cannot access the content unless they go through a payment gateway.  In this case it would be a pay what you want gateway, so they can still put in zero as their payment if they want to, but this is a much stronger prompt to make payment as it is right in front of you and you have to click past it to move on.  From a theoretical point of view I like this model best, I think it has the best probability of actually prompting payment from the people using the course.

I will probably set it up so that the initial material is open access, so the student can see how they like some of the material before they are faced with making a payment, and I think I’ll put another prompt at the very end of the course for those who paid zero initially, if they have reconsidered after using the whole course they can make a payment then.

The reason I will use this model last is because even though I like this model the most, it will be the most difficult to set up and require the most time and expense.  I will have to host the videos somewhere other than on youtube so they will be secure, and purchase software and become familiar with it etc etc.  Basically this one is going to take me awhile to figure out technically and I want to move ahead and start offering the courses now, so I will start with the youtube based models first to get me started and hopefully have things figured out by the time I am ready to put my third course online.

I will trial this model with a course on breathing.

It’s going to be a lot of work, but I’m kind of excited about it as well.  People have always enjoyed these courses and told me that they’ve got a lot out of them when I’ve delivered them live or through my offline homestudy courses.  I think that putting them online in an easily accessible format will open these courses up to many more people – maybe even internationally, and provide really useful resources to my current students as well, with the added bonus of it being better for the environment as well due to physical materials not having to be produced. I’ve been working on the first course for a couple of weeks now, and I am hopeful that if I work hard I will be able to get all three courses up by the end of the year.  I will announce on this site when the first course is available online.


Phase Two of My Give Freely Receive Freely Experiment

Well, I can’t say my experience with GFRF so far has been a runaway success, but it hasn’t been a resounding failure either.  All in all it has been close to business as usual.  It will be interesting to see how things develop as I continue on with using GFRF in my clinical work.  I have some ideas to spark things up a bit there which I will look at implementing in the next couple of weeks.

In the meantime though I am ready to embark on phase II of my experiment.  I am going to expand my GFRF offering to include the next set of workshops I will be teaching.

I have three workshops scheduled in August, one on qigong, one on self defence, and one on breathing.  They will be listed on an online events directory, so this should expose a reasonable number of people to them and also to the GFRF concept.

I am a little concerned about the outcome, as I have put a huge amount of work into preparing the material for these workshops, and quite a bit of work goes into delivering each one.  For me to re-coup the opportunity cost, or the time cost of having spent so much time on these which has meant I have not been working on other things that would pay me, I really need to be paid quite well for them every time I deliver them over the course of several years.

Will people pay/contribute enough when attending these workshops to make them viable for me?  I don’t know.  There is a tendency here in New Zealand to contribute minimally to things that are perceived as ‘free’ or ‘community’ events, or even some idea that somehow someone else is paying for them (which is often the case through grants etc), so therefore the attendees don’t need to.  Of course I’m trying to get past this idea into having people understand that the value of something is not determined by the price, but they themselves can determine the value to them, and they should exchange based on that value – within what they can afford.  This would mean that people pay different amounts for something according to how useful it is to them and according to their financial situation.  It also means that they are realistic about the cost of provision of whatever it is that they are receiving and understand that for that thing to continue to be offered those costs need to be met.  Quite simply if those who use the service or whatever it is offered don’t collectively contribute enough to meet those costs, then it will no longer be able to be offered (as the person or people offering it will run out of resources).  This is the case with these workshops.  I am not wealthy (far from it) and able to do all this work as a fancy.  I have bills to pay just like everyone else.  If I am not able to receive enough money for delivering them, then I simply won’t be able to continue to offer them on a GFRF basis.  Either I will have to stop offering the workshops or go back to charging a set price to bring in enough money.

Operating in a GFRF way makes the individual very powerful, they essentially vote with their money (or other resources).  If they want something to continue – they contribute a reasonable amount so that it can continue or even grow.  If they do no want something to continue, they just pay less or nothing for it and it will quickly shrink or cease.  You might think this is the same as a conventional economic arrangement, but there are some significant differences which I believe makes the GFRF concept a much more effective way for people to shape what goes on in their society than a set price approach.  I’ll discuss these differences and there implications in future blog posts.

I believe that what I offer in these workshops is valuable to people.  The feedback I have received about them has always been universally positive.  But will people contribute enough on a GFRF basis?  There are a number of ways this could happen.  Either the average amount paid could come out close to what I would usually charge ($100 per workshop, which I think is good value, I know of other people who charge about $300 for similar workshops).  Or seeing as people can pay whatever they like for the workshop I could have more people attend – which would mean that a lower average contribution would add up to me still receiving about the same amount of money.  This would maybe happen if people attended who previously would not have been able to afford to attend, but take the opportunity to make the most of the GFRF system.

I would be happy with either of these scenarios.  I’m still a bit nervous about it though.  It is a radically different way of doing things than people are used to.  I also realize that some people who might have attended may not attend if they are uncomfortable with paying this way.  I expect to a large degree the success of the workshops will come down to how well I communicate about GFRF to those who are interested.

Well nothing ventured nothing gained.  I am sure I will learn a lot from this experience.  I really want to be able to offer as much of what I do as possible through GFRF as I feel good about working in this way, as it makes what I offer affordable to everyone, and I believe it can do this while also providing me with what I need.  In a way it is a great natural leveler, and naturally creates a type of social equity which is sadly lacking in our current environment.  But it is hard when this concept is so different to what people are familiar with.

I will report back!

Also if you are interested in these workshops there are basic details here:

I will also put links to more comprehensive details in the comments to this post once I have listed the workshops on the online events directory.


My ‘Give Freely Receive Freely’ Experiment Update – June 2012

Well its been almost two months since I began my ‘give freely receive freely’ experiment, so I thought it was about time I posted an update about how it has been going.

To re-cap, I am trying this experiment with my clinical work (Traditional Chinese Medicine, Qigong Therapy, Massage and Lifestyle Advice).  You can read the explanation that I first posted about this on my clinic website here:


Since that time I would guess that maybe about 40% of my clients have paid a bit more than they would have in the past, about 40% have paid about the same and maybe 20% have paid a bit less.  So overall, I think I am a bit ahead in terms of the money I have received for my clinical work compared to what I would have under my previous set price approach.

I have not had a huge rush of people booking in for treatment as some people thought I would with this pricing approach, and I think there are two reasons for that.

1. I think that still not a lot of people know that I am using this ‘give freely, receive freely’ exchange idea.

2. People are unfamiliar with the idea, and maybe a little uncomfortable about it.


This is not surprising at all as it is an unusual idea and one which is quite different to what we are used to in our normal day to day transactions.  Some people have actually done some research into this kind of exchange – referring to it as ‘pay what you want’.   You can read about some of this research here:

One of the key findings from the research was that less people would buy something paying whatever they want for it (even though they could pay nothing if they wanted to) than would buy something with a low set price.  I believe that this is because most people have an innate sense of what is a fair exchange, and only want to engage in exchanges that feel fair to them.

I believe this is a very good thing – even if it does not maximize income.  My aim in experimenting with this type of exchange is not to maximize the money I receive, although I certainly wish to have enough to pay for my needs my main aim is to engage in a more free type of exchange with people that encourages them to think about and recognize the true value of what they are doing.  This requires thought and can be quite difficult when people are not used to considering economic transactions in this way.  It is also to make my services affordable to everyone, not matter what their economic circumstances may be.

Therapeutic Value

From a therapeutic point of view I believe that this type of exchange can be beneficial because it causes the patient to consciously think about the value of the treatment they receive.  All to often we go through life not thinking about the reason or value of what we are doing.  By consciously thinking about this it helps to open the way for the patient to actually ‘receive’ the benefit of the treatment.  In the end while I as a practitioner will have an effect on the health of my patients, most of the work is going to be done by them.  It is their cells that will have to repair themselves, it is them who may have to do remedial exercises, it is them who may need to make changes to eating habits, lifestyle and thinking patterns.  Conscious engagement in assigning value to the sessions they have with me can help to create commitment on both a conscious and unconscious level to follow through on what they need to do to become well.

This type of conscious engagement can then spill over into other areas of their lives as they learn to recognize value in what they do.  They will hopefully continue and do more of the things that are truly valuable and find themselves doing less and less of those things that have little value or even take value away.

It has been interesting over the last few weeks as I have shared this ‘give freely receive freely’ idea with people.  I have found myself eager to see a new client or one I haven’t seen in awhile, as much to share this concept with them as for any other reason.  I have seen many smiles, nods of agreement and a few laughs as people have heard or read about the concept.  Some people have been excited and enthusiastic, others self conscious and maybe a little confused.  No-one has been outright negative.  One client who was not very happy with his work situation told me that what I am doing had inspired him to investigate a new joint venture opportunity that was coming up.

The Experiment Continues

It is early days for the experiment yet.  I plan to keep it going for now, and maybe permanently.  I am actually already thinking about how I might be able to viably use this concept for some of the other services I offer.

I do hope that as I continue people will become more and more comfortable with this concept.  ‘Give freely, receive freely’ does not mean that you suddenly have to pay more for something to show that you fully value it, it does mean that you have to engage with your role in an exchange and deal with concepts of value, integrity and fairness.  I hope that people will remember that what is ‘fair’ for them to give in an exchange has a lot to do with their resources.  Those who have little should not feel bad that they can only give little.  Those who have a lot should feel good that they are able to give a lot.  And those people somewhere in between (which is probably most of us) need to be realistic about what they can give in an exchange – so that they are satisfied and feel good about the exchange, both what they have received and what they have given.

(Those who are scripturally inclined might like to check out these links Mark 12: 41-44, Mosiah 4:27)

I know that this is challenging and maybe even confronting when you are used to having the price of something set for you.  But I think there is real value for both parties to exchanging in this way.

I have quite a lot more that I would like to write about ‘give freely, receive freely’ and the way it can change our perception of the world around us and our relationships with others. That is why I have set up this blog.  I think the idea has potential, and I am sure I will learn a lot more about it as I experiment with it in practice. I realize that to some of you this whole concept seems very strange, but I hope that you will continue to read this blog as I post more about my ideas and experiences with this concept, and maybe it will still seem strange to you, or maybe it will start to make sense.  At the very least I hope it will give you some food for thought and maybe even some entertainment.