Why I Want Clients Who Can Afford to Pay: The Messy Mix of Money and Coaching

the cost of coaching

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I recently did an interview with the smart, self-aware, and sentient Molly Mandelberg, creator of Wild Hearts Rise Up and the Tactical Magic Podcast for the Warrior Goddess Entrepreneur. The interview went well. It was more like a low-stress, fun conversation about writing and how to bring your book to life. As a writer and book coach, my mission in life is to heal the world through stories, whether it’s the stories I write and tell or the stories I help other people write and tell. So, having the opportunity to talk with Molly was a blessing and an honor.

A few days after the interview, parts of the conversation filtered in and out of my mind, and one comment I had made kept coming back to me. And not in a good way. It isn’t that I wanted to rescind what I had said because I meant it – and I still do – but not in the way it sounds on the surface.

The comment came after Molly asked me who I want to work with. I said something like, “People who can pay” or “People who can afford it.”

Side note: Sometimes, when I have a thought, make a comment, or share an opinion I’ll explain it to death, and I think I do this for a few reasons.

  • It’s the teacher in me wanting to ensure the chances of being understood, as best I can, by everyone who’s listening because I’m well-aware that we all have unique learning styles, and we all absorb information and words differently based on our individual world views.
  • One of my persistent fears in life is that I will be misunderstood and all sorts of unfortunate outcomes will follow, like hurt feelings or the spread of my words in a context that doesn’t align with who I am. (I’ve unpacked the reasons behind this fear and I embrace it for the benefits it allows me, but I won’t take you on yet another spiral of thought to explain.)
  • And then there’s the fact that I’ve been academically trained in argumentation and rhetoric, which requires us to perpetually ask the question “why?” And for every “because” that comes after, another “why?” follows.

So, I’d rather over-explain than run the risk of leaving a partially hatched comment, concept, or idea up for someone else’s translation without having had the chance to drill down inside it, even if just a little.

All this said, though, sometimes I under-explain so I don’t fill up a conversation with “too many” words. My internal editor is hard at work in these cases, and it was, albeit rather subconsciously, during the interview with Molly. Had I allowed myself the time – had I not been concerned that I was going to go over time or that I might blather on too long about one thing – I would have broken my response down into three layers.

  1. Yes, of course, I want to be paid for what I do. I have years of training in this area, I’m college educated in this area, and I’ve been teaching college for two decades in this area. I’m also growing a business, and I believe my coaches and my fellow entrepreneurs when they tell me I’m worth my fees. I know I am.
  2. Then comes the second layer to the statement’s meaning. When people are willing to invest in themselves, they tend to show up more fully. Yes, I want that. I want my clients to show up, to take our agreements seriously, to pour themselves into their books because I wouldn’t be working with them if I didn’t believe they have brilliant ideas that need to make their way out into the world. My clients are worth their own self-commitment, and as I always tell them, writing their book is an act of self-love.
  3. And then comes the third layer to this statement’s meaning. I want my clients to be able to take on the monetary obligation that comes with coaching so they won’t experience stress every month about how to pay me. I want them to be able to focus on their creative process so the words will pour onto the page.

I don’t doubt that they have plenty of other life stressors perpetually jockeying for first position throughout their days and in their minds and hearts. I don’t want to be one more of those things – not in a stressful, creative-killing kind of way. And this is the big, overarching reason I want my clients to be able to pay. I don’t want their financial obligation to me to be a burden.

I’ve been in enough coaching situations wherein I knew from the get-go that my budget couldn’t manage the fat monthly payment. Yet, I allowed myself to be convinced, coerced, or coddled into signing on with the promise that I’d make my money back within a few months, raking in an income that would make the monthly coaching payment seem insignificant. But this hasn’t happened for me even though I’ve gone all in. And from what I’ve witnessed, it doesn’t happen for most. Unless they’re in the corporate sphere. Which I am not.

This is not to say that the programs I’ve been in haven’t been helpful. They have. I’ve learned a lot, and I’ve made progress. But the curve to get from here to there is such a circuitous foute that the real, consistent money making doesn’t usually come right away. (Another brief aside: one of the programs I was in never, for a moment, felt forced on me or oversold to me. This coach let his quiet approach and his knowledgeable expertise make me want to work with him. And his program was priced so that I could be part of his group without feeling like I had to take desperate robbing-Peter-to-pay-Paul measures every month to honor my financial obligation to him.)

Because I’m a book coach, I can’t promise my clients any kind of monetary gain from writing their book. Will having a book give them more credibility in their area of expertise? Yes. Will it help them get more high-level speaking gigs? Absolutely. Will they experience personal transformation from writing their book? Without a doubt. Will they make money from their book? Probably not.

Writing a book and having a book is best not viewed as a means to get rich. Or even to create an income. Writing a book is best viewed as a means to lift yourself up as an expert in your field; enhance your self-worth; and put your name, face, and ideas out into the world.

So, when I say I want to work with people who can pay, I’m talking about that third layer. Yes, I want to make a living doing what I love. (I’m not Oliver, for god’sake.) Yes, I want to work with people who will take the commitment seriously. (I’m not a babysitter or a rescuer, either.) But mostly, I don’t want my fee to make my clients do emotionally charged financial calisthenics that take up space in their beautiful creative brains, making the writing even more difficult than it already is.

Can everyone’s budget manage the cost of coaching – private or group? Definitely not. Do I want to help people with brilliant ideas get their books written, even if they don’t have the funds? Yes, I do.

And that’s why I sometimes question the whole coaching model to help people write. I don’t have an answer yet to remedy these concerns of mine, but I’m working on it… Because I do know that my mission in life is to heal the world through story, whether they’re mine or whether they’re yours.

So, stay tuned and let’s see if there’s a way I can help.

And in the meanwhile, leave a comment below. What you most need help with in your writing?