Reflections on the Pay from the Heart pricing model

I've been using a "pay from the heart" pricing model for 2 years now.

When people sign up for my Monday Mentoring program, they are offered three pricing levels and asked to chose based on which is most appropriate for their situation. All three pricing levels receive the same program.

In this episode, I share a bit more about what I've learned from this model and why I plan on continuing it for the foreseeable future. 

In the episode, I mentioned learning about Pay from the Heart from Mark Silver. Here is a link to his Heart of Business Community site, where you can see how he explains and thinks about this pricing model (scroll down!).

If you have any questions about Pay from the Heart or pricing in general, I'd love to address them on a future episode. Feel free to send your question by clicking "+message" on the podcast homepage or by sending me a message through my website.

I messed up 😟

Immediately after publishing this episode, I remembered that:

1) I have been using this model for 2 years, not 3 like I said. The pandemic has warped my sense of time πŸ₯΄.

and,

2) Although I said that I have kept the pricing the same, I *kind of* raised the price of Monday Mentoring recently, in that I used to offer a $50/month option for the noon group, which is no longer available. We've restructured and included quite a bit more in the membership for the price, and still, it is a bit of a price increase in some ways.

My apologies for the lack of clarity. Maybe I'll do another episode about all of this at some point! 

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Transcript

Episode 53 | Pay from the Heart Pricing Model - powered by Happy Scribe

Well, hi there. Welcome to in the clinic with Camille. My name is Camille Freeman. I am a licensed nutritionist and registered herbalist, and in this podcast I share little tips and tidbits that might be interesting or helpful for other practitioners.

Welcome back to in the clinic. It has been a while since I posted a new episode. I took a break at the end of last year, and I am back. I have some really wonderful episodes planned for you over the next few months. So really lovely to be back here with you today.

I wanted to share a little bit about Pay From the Heart as a pricing model. I realized the other day that I have been using Pay From the Heart for exactly three years now, and I thought maybe it would be helpful for other folks to hear more about this and my reflections on how it's going and why I keep using it and so forth. To give you just a little bit of background about pricing models when it comes to my work, I've been in practice since about 2004, and I've always been interested in accessibility. How do we balance accessibility and affordability with meeting our own needs, especially for folks who are really counting on the income from their practice for their livelihood. It's always a juggle, in my opinion.

I have used and been involved with multiple different types of payment models, including sliding scale bartering, a system where premium prices are charged for most clients, to allow other clients to come at extremely reduced or free rates, flat out free clinic model, and so forth. In 2020, the beginning of 2020, I decided to start using a Pay From the Heart model based on the work of Mark Silver, who runs the Heart of Business community. Really enjoy his work. Little shout out to Mark there. I hadn't really heard of the Pay From the Heart model until I came across it.

Sure, it's out there with other people, but it was new to me at the time. I use the Pay From the Heart model right now for my Monday mentoring community of practice. So Monday mentoring is a community for herbalists and nutritionists people pay monthly to be part of the community. Right now, I am not using Pay From the Heart for my clinical work because I have a different model running there. I do a free clinic, and then I have kind of my regular price clients.

So we'll talk about that at some different episode. If I were doing more clinical work right now, it's really very part time. If I were doing more clinical work, I would consider this Pay From the Heart model for my clinical work as well. But right now, we're going to talk about it in the context of Monday mentoring as a community of practice. So if you aren't familiar with a Pay From the Heart model, let me just tell you what it is.

Pay from the Heart is very similar to a sliding scale. With a sliding scale, you give people a range, for example, you might say, to come in for my initial visit, it's anywhere from fifty dollars to one hundred and fifty dollars. And then people will choose where they want to be on that scale. And oftentimes they need to have some guidance to help them figure out where should they be. So there are many really nicely done web pages and documents and things like that that help people understand where they should place themselves based on their income, their social support structures, all of that kind of thing.

The problem with citing scale, in my experience, is it can be a real challenge for people to place themselves on that scale. I think part of it is due to there just being so many choices, like how do you choose $53 versus $57 or 120 versus 130? It can be overwhelming, just that choice aspect of it. And then there's also the fact that some people really don't do a great job of placing themselves either in one direction or the other. So I struggled a lot with that.

I used it for several years and I just felt like a lot of times the people who should be on the lower end were very, very conscious about paying as much as they possibly could and were probably overpaying based on the guidance I was providing. And sometimes the people who were paying on the lower end of the scale, based on what I knew about them and learned about them, really should have been much higher. And it just felt anyway, perhaps I wasn't doing a great job mediating it and so forth. We'll talk about that a different time, but that's a sliding scale model. Pay from the Heart is a little bit similar, except that instead of giving people a wide range, you just give them a few options.

So in my case for Monday mentoring, we have three options for payment. Like I said, this is a monthly payment that people are making to be part of the community. And they can choose $75 a month, $99 a month or $129 a month. There is no difference in what they get at $75 a month versus $129 a month. So when people go to the page where they learn more about Monday mentoring, I don't give a ton of guidance.

It essentially just says $75 a month is the minimum amount that keeps the whole program running, essentially keeps the lights on. $99 a month is the amount that allows me to pay fair wages to myself and other people in the program and to make sure that the quality is the best it can be. And then $129 a month is the amount that allows me to bring in people who might not otherwise be able to afford it, to offer scholarships, to create new programs, to continually improve and expand what we're doing within Monday? Mentoring. And that's it.

That's all I say about it. And then people just pick. So usually there's no back and forth with people about which one to choose. Most folks find it pretty easy to figure out where they want to be based on their own financial situation and then their own values in terms of what feels like the right place for them for right now. When I first started using this model, I saw it with Mark's heart of business community, and I learned more about it and so forth.

And I was like, you know what? Nobody would ever pay the higher two. It seemed like, oh, pretty much everybody's just going to pay $75 a month, which is fine. I had to do the hard work of figuring out, how much do I actually need to just keep this program afloat? And that was it.

And so I was like, well, but it doesn't hurt to try. Just see what happens if I put these other price points out there. And I did really want there to be an option for people. As a side note, I do have a little note there that says that if if the $75 amount interferes with people's ability to find food, housing, shelter, et cetera, they can contact me and we can negotiate from there. But anyway, almost everybody pays one of those three prices now.

The first time somebody ever signed up at $129 a month, my instinct was to immediately email them and say, oh, my gosh, I think you hit the wrong button. Did you know that you're paying $129 instead of $75? I didn't, fortunately, have a great accountability group. And they were like, no, Camille, that's not what you do. And it wasn't a fluke.

They meant to pay that much money, and that was their choice. People do pay the $129 a month option. People do pay the 99, and people do pay the $75. I would say that probably I should have looked at the numbers exactly, but I'd say probably 50% to 75% of people pay the $75 amount, and then the rest is split between the 99 and the $129 amount. And it feels really good.

I'm really happy no matter where people sign up. But I do love knowing that people are interested in wanting to pay the higher amounts in support of the community, in support of other people, in support of growing the work that we're doing together. So that was a learning for me, just realizing that, oh, wow. I've also realized over the years myself, as I become more financially stable with the work, I've realized that when I have an option, if it's possible for me, I do want to be paying people what feels like a fair amount. I have had people over the years change their levels.

So some people will start out at a lower level and then say, hey, I'm making more money. I'm feeling more stable. I'm really enjoying this program. I'd like to pay one of the higher levels now, so that's always nice. And then I've had people whose circumstances change in the other direction where perhaps they lost their job or other things have changed and they need to move from a higher level to a lower level.

And that's always possible as well. So folks do flop around a little bit. However, generally speaking, there is not a lot of admin that goes into helping people make that choice or sorting things out. So that's one of the big pieces that I like. I also find that anytime people have choice, it helps.

I've learned this from my teaching as well. One of the big things I do when I'm teaching classes is give people options, choices about which assignments to do and how they want to be assessed and that kind of thing. But I think that just having that choice is empowering for people and so that's become more and more important to me over the years as well. One of the big learnings and I'll wrap up soon because I know we're getting a little bit long here, but one of the other big learnings I wanted to pass along with me is that I had to also really get clear on what does it cost to run this program? Before, I would also often be like, well, this feels like a good price to me.

When I was just starting out, that's actually how I decided on the original price for Monday mentoring. It was just an idea that I had and I thought, this seems like about right for the time it's going to take me and the different softwares I'll need to purchase to make it happen and all of that. It just came up with a number. When I started doing Pay from the Heart, I was like, well, you know what, if I'm going to say this is how much it costs to run this program, that should be authentic. I should know how much it costs and I should know what is a fair wage, how do I pay fair wages to myself and to the other facilitators and the assistant that I have and all this kind of thing?

What does that look like? So that is one of the things that I really had to get clear on and it was helpful for me. It's painful. I'm not always the kind of person who loves to look at the numbers closely, but it did help to go through and be like, wow, okay, I am paying $49 a month for this software and $30 a month for this software and this amount for this software, and here's how much childcare costs while I'm doing this. And so on and so forth.

And I did become very clear that, you know what, for less than $75 a month, if I have a lot of people paying less than $75 a month the numbers don't number, they don't add up. So it did help to get that clear in my mind. And it does also really help. I have enough people who are paying the higher two tiers that I am able to pay people what feels to me like a really good I don't know if we say wage here exactly, but I feel like I'm paying people something that feels like a super fair amount, that makes people want to come and participate in the community, and that also feels good as well. Like, I'm not just creating this community, but also creating something that feeds the people who are part of it.

And that is also nice to just see, oh, what do I need to do to make that happen? And how am I going to how am I going to set all of this up? So I am able to offer quite a number of scholarships to people. I am able to offer really fair wages to the folks who are participating and also to keep the lights on and keep doing something that I find really fun. So the other last benefit that I'll share with you is that because I got really clear on these numbers, I've been able to keep the price of Monday mentoring the same the entire time that it's been running since 2019.

It's possible that I might have to raise the price a little bit in the future, maybe next year or the year after. But for right now, even though the cost of a whole bunch of things is going up, even though I have more gift s coming in and that sort of thing, I am able to just kind of keep the price the same, which I really like, because I do think having something that feels affordable and accessible to people, especially throughout the pandemic, has been a big priority for me. So anyway, if you haven't heard of the Pay from the Heart model, I hope it's something that you'll consider play around with in your head to see if it might be a good fit for you, either with some of the programs you're doing, your clinical work, or other things that you are pricing out there. If you have any questions about this or if you have a pricing model that's working for you that's a little bit outside of the norm of what you're seeing, I would love to hear about it. Please reach out and let me know, and I will be back soon with another episode.

All right, have a wonderful day. Take care. Bye.

Thanks for listening to in the clinic with Camille. Hey, did you know that I write a weekly practitioner note for herbalist and nutritionist? If you would like to get that in your inbox, you can sign up@camillefreeman.com newsletter. Love to have you join us there.

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