So my first mate on the mad pirate crew has asked me to write a post about why my prices are what they are.

And I know it sucks for her because I’m on email sabbatical and she answers all my email … and she has to figure out how to respond.

Obviously the ones who are all “get the **** off the internet!” are pretty easy to ignore.

It’s more the ones who are hurting, who genuinely want to know why they can’t be part of Fluent Self-ey stuff. There’s a lot of sadness, a lot of resentment, a lot of confusion.

So let me give you an answer for why I charge “so much”. Or at all.

Actually, let me give you a bunch of answers. In no particular order. But in two different posts.

Today I’ll talk about why I have stuff that you can buy that actually, like, costs money.

And then, because I totally ran out of room, next time (or in a couple days) I’ll talk about why so much.

“But all information should be free! It’s icky that you charge for things that you know.”

Oh, sweetie. It sounds like you’re feeling really frustrated because you need to know that you’ll be taken care of. You know what? I also wish more information were free.

Here are some thoughts …

Answer #1: Huh. Interesting.

So I don’t know if you’ve noticed … I actually give away nine hours of my time for free every single week on this blog.

Writing five to six posts a week and responding to comments? Nine hours.

Mmm, and I also teach four no-cost teleclasses each year (like the Habits Detective call), and I often do freebies for other biggifiers or just random people that I feel like helping.*

* Oh, and there’s a free stuff page.

I give all of this gladly. It’s also all free.

There are thousands of people who have never bought any of my products who use this blog as a combination of therapy, coaching, business advice and a steady always-available source of general self-help-ey stuff.

And that’s awesome. As far as I’m concerned, that’s how it should be.

Answer #2: My information IS free.

A lot of the stuff that I actually charge for has to do with implementation, not with information.

How to use the concepts and principles I teach here, and apply them to the stuff going on in your life.

That’s the stuff I’ve spent the past ten years learning and mastering. It’s the thing I’m best at.

Answer #3: If I didn’t charge for anything, there would be no Fluent Self.

Actually, none of this would be here. None of the free information. Not even a website.

When I had a straight job (and that was only a couple of months because that’s how long it took me to realize that I’d rather go back to tending bar than go slowly mad in an office), I didn’t get a lot of writing done.

In fact, I didn’t get a lot of anything done.

Because every single non-work moment of my day was dedicated to not-falling-apart. Not sinking into the abyss.

I had to be in survival mode. So I wasn’t exactly in the position to be of help to anyone else.

So … if I didn’t have stuff for sale here on the blog, there wouldn’t be a blog. I would have a job-job that made me miserable, and all the cool stuff I know would be relegated to my own process of staying sane.

Or I’d be working in a bar and my time off would go to catching up on sleep.

It would be worse for me, obviously. But it would also be worse for you.

Answer #4: the sleaze-non-sleaze kosher marketing continuum.

When I started my business four years ago, I also thought it was awful that any teacher would have a “store”. My definition of a teacher was someone who gave freely and generously.

Then I looked at my own teachers and saw how hard it was for them to actually help the people they needed to help. Because they were struggling with this idea that taking money for anything was wrong — and also struggling with things like “rent” and “groceries”.

And I realized that — while yes, the whole “add to cart” language really sets off my ick buttons — you can’t devote your life to helping your Right People if you don’t have a way to let that life support you.

It’s the sleaze-non-sleaze-kosher-marketing-continuum — some people are always going to find my stuff gross, I’m always going to find other people’s stuff gross, and that’s just how it is.

Answer #5: socialism, baby.

Well, not really.

But the way the whole Fluent Self pirate ship stays strong and healthy is that some people buy my stuff so that other people don’t have to.

The more people invest in their own working-on-their-stuff process by taking my classes or buying products here, the more I can afford to give other things away for nothing or almost nothing.

Answer #6: the more I earn, the easier it is for me to give.

And not just to give, but to give generously and open-heartedly. Whenever I feel like it.

In fact, I never have to make that awful, depressing calculation of “will I end up feeling resentful if I give someone my time”, because the business pays for me to be a giving person.

And if I want my Shivanaut blog to sponsor a Roller Derby team, I can do it.

Answer #7: There are always going to be things you can’t afford.

When I started my business (and my entire rent for the month was about oh, $85 because I was living in that insane drag king semi-squat in East Berlin), I couldn’t really afford anything.

I’d collect my change to buy an hour at the cheapest Turkish internet cafe, and look at people charging what seemed to me to be unfathomable amounts of money for coaching.

And I wished I could afford their books or their programs, but I couldn’t.

So I dealt with it. It never even occurred to me to send them off an email saying “who do you think you are?” or to make snide remarks about them on Twitter (okay, this was pre-Twitter, but still).

Because I knew … that’s where I was. And I knew that I could choose to stay there. Or I could choose to start working on my stuff and get to the point where maybe, eventually, I could learn to be okay with receiving money for my work too.

And right now, there are still plenty of things I can’t afford. And I deal with it. Because taking responsibility for your own stuff (or trying to) is part of being someone who’s working on this whole “having an intentional relationship with yourself” thing.

Answer #8: providing an example is a really big deal.

People see what I’m doing here — teaching what I know, modeling what it’s like to try and have a conscious and not-excessively-cheesy relationship with yourself — and the coolest thing happens.

It inspires them to go out and do it too.

People start blogs. They open practices. They start teaching what they know. It’s the most beautiful thing in the entire world.

And even when they go deep into the scary where the walls and the monsters are, they remember that it can work.

They remember that my baby blog here pays rent for three people. Real rent, not unheated-hole-in-East-Berlin rent. And that’s without even taking on any advertising or sponsorship.

So if I can work through my own deep, painful “you’re not allowed to receive and you’re not allowed to be visible” stucknesses, and that can inspire other people to start healing theirs?

That’s a big huge freaking blessing, as far as I’m concerned.

So that’s a lot.

I guess my bigger point here is that you really are allowed to feel what you’re feeling.

Whether you’re the person who feels anxious and upset when other people charge for what they do, or whether you’re the person who feels resentful when other people question your right to make money doing what you do.

Feelings are always legitimate. They just are.

And whichever side of that equation you’re on (or wherever you are on the sleaze-non-sleaze-kosher-marketing-continuum), I just hope this is giving you Useful Stuff to work with.

Comment Zen

What I’m not looking for:

What is welcome:

  • Thoughts about my bigger theme of creating a safe space for your Right People while keeping healthy boundaries so you don’t have to take on other people’s stuff.
  • Anything you’d want to add to this that might be useful for someone hurting.

My commitment.

I commit to giving time and thought to the things that people say, and to interact with their ideas and with my own stuff in as compassionate and honest a way as I can stand.

The Fluent Self