If you have been following this blog, you will know that lately I have been wrestling with the possibility of returning to putting prices on more of my work again… Not an easy decision… But as I have kept thinking about it I have come up with something else I would like to try.
You see, as I have experimented with Give Freely Receive Freely I have come in contact with other people who have tried similar things. Many have told me that it was disastrous and almost ruined their business and things like that, but there have been a few… a very few who have told me that it worked for them. Maybe it was hard to begin with, but over time they figured out how to do things in a way that it worked!
One of the common features of the approaches that have worked is that there is a direct personal interaction between the giver and receiver, and a clear time to pay.
One person I talked to even went so far as to make it mandatory that the person come directly to him, shake his hand and look him in the eye as they made their payment… In this way the person is engaging with a real person, understanding the effort of that person that goes into what they have received and that they are dependent on their support for their very real human needs (food, transport, shelter etc). So the person has to really evaluate their side of the interaction and give in return in a way that they feel good about and maintains or builds their respect for themselves.
One challenge that there has been with my work is that a lot of it is online. I have put a huge amount of effort into developing online courses, which currently have completely open access. Because of this people can view the material whenever they wish, and completely anonymously. Even for those that do get in contact with me, many of them say that they will donate in the future, or soon, or… and then never get around to it.
The reality is that they are interacting directly with the fruits of my labour – and it does take a LOT of work to plan and put together each course. But, because it is through the medium of the internet I suppose it feels more disconnected for them, and it is easy to forget to pay, because there isn’t actually a set time where they have to. I know that for myself I often would forget about bills or things that need doing as well if I wasn’t reminded and given a set deadline that I needed to do it by, so it is quite understandable.
Well… I am planning on changing the way I run those online courses. I am planning on scheduling the courses so there is a set start and finish date, and also having a lot more personal interaction during the course. I want to do these things to help students stay focused and gain more from their practice and study anyway, but it occurred to me that this could also be an opportunity for that more direct interaction and for a set time to pay which could make using GFRF more successful.
I think if people pay at the beginning of the course they are more likely to be successful in that course. It seems that if people are not invested, and I mean financially invested in what they are doing, it is very easy for them to become distracted and not follow through. So by requiring payment at the beginning, that is their investment in themselves to actually stay committed to the course, and that amount can still be up to them.
I suspect some people will still have difficulty with this and may have a tendency to just make a token payment rather than a realistic payment of an amount that reflects the value they expect to obtain from the course. But I also hope that many more other people will be able to engage with this more easily and understand the importance of making the investment in their commitment to the course and that it is an interaction with a real living person who needs their financial support as much as they need the guidance in their learning.
At this stage the other course materials will still be available open access, but I could in the future also restrict access to these to only those who have enrolled and donated to support the courses if I need to, while still making them GFRF. This overcomes the ‘forgetfulness’ aspect of people not getting around to paying.
I think it is worth a try! Trying to work based on GFRF has been really hard, but I believe in the principle of it enough to keep trying. In the end if I have to I can go back to charging prices for things, as I have in the past, but… I would rather continue to try to make it work if I possibly can.