How to bake generosity into your pricing.

Do you want to set sustainable rates for your services and make a good living? Or do you want to be generous with your skill and expertise, even toward people who truly have a hard time affording them?

Of course the answers are yes and yes.

And while these two facets of a fulfilling practice are sometimes presented as conflicting, I find that they actually go great together. They one condition here is that you arrange them within a structure that works for you.

Let’s look at three options for baking generosity into your pricing:

Sliding Scale Pricing

This is usually the first one that comes to mind for people. Instead of a singular price point, you offer a range and within that let your clients decide what’s appropriate for them. That’s generally an awesome model. The core idea here is that it’s fair to pay more when you are able to – and by doing that, you support the people in your community who aren’t at this time.

One caveat: it seems to be working great in some communities and not in others. Some people instantly get the concept – others only see the bottom end of the spectrum, no matter how they fare economically relative to others.

If you find that it’s not happening in your community, you might help people make better choices about what point on the scale is appropriate for them through the fine art of explaining. Or you could implement a step in the process at which you explicitly invite people to add a bit to their amount in order to subsidize care and access for others. Or move to one of the following models.

Reserved Spots

With this option, you set aside one or a few spots at a time for special arrangements, such as pro-bono clients, trades, or pay-what-you-can.

This can be a great model especially if you tend to say yes to these kinds of special arrangements all the time – and then find that it compromises your income beyond what’s sustainable. Now, when the reserved spots are full and you meet someone whom you’d love to offer a special arrangement, you still don’t have to say no – instead you can let them know you’ll be able to welcome them, say, next month.

Free Offerings

Can you envision a resource or service that you can relatively easily offer for free? For example, a monthly community class, a downloadable PDF, or a recorded webinar? While this means you may not be able to give each person exactly and all of what they need right away, you’ll be able to offer them some meaningful support, get them started, or empower them to move forward on their own.

On my end, I host two free group consulting session every season, one here in Portland and one online.

If you like, join in next time and put pricing on the agenda. I’d love to hear what model you found works best for you and your community.

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