Talk about being scared to write this blog post! This is another post to update you on my journey with money.
Ohhhhh the dirty, dirty word right?
Thing is, I’ve been working freelance and running my own business for around 10 years now. It’s been my sole income for coming up on 5 years. It’s been a great five years, and I’ve managed somehow, despite my income being low enough to make my accountant choke on his tea.
It’s been fun, to be honest, finding ways to live on silly money.
Most of the time, I’ve felt that I am happy with ‘just enough to manage on’ – which frequently is actually less than I’ve needed. BUT – when you are building up a lifestyle and a business, there’s a time when you are going to have to put in more than you are getting out, that’s just how it works.
However, after five years, I can also safely say I’ve come dangerously close to burnout more than once.
Money is not the only reason, of course, but financial worries do, as we all know, cause stress. Also, having money gives access to a lot of the support that is so vital – self development, retreats, holidays, massages, books, research trips to other projects and other things which help to give you more TIME to do your life’s work.
At some point, the balance has to tip from ‘just managing’ to ‘thriving nicely’ and this past year has felt like this tipping point for me.
It was so hard to even admit that I was no longer happy to live on what most people spend on their cars. But, I did it. I made a declaration last year:
That I am worthy of a proper living from my work.
That I am a good custodian of money, that I will spend it on ethical things and on supporting myself
That I can use abundant income to put in place proper support, in order that I can work even harder and create even more awesome.
It’s a bumpy journey, and it’s not just my own personal business that’s had this ‘just enough’ mindset.
My gorgeous not-for-profit business, The Art House, has bumped along on ‘just enough’ most of the time too! Whilst we are all super grateful to be surviving at all when many others haven’t, the truth is this…..
With more income, we can do more good.
With more income, we can support and pay our crew as they deserve. We can even create new, splendid jobs for people who really need them – people who can make The Art House even better!
With more income, we can support other groups who need it.
The reality of this hit last year, when we were given a small fund to grant to other organisations. Wow. It felt yummy. But, most of the time, it hasn’t been possible.
Similarly with my eCourses, I’ve been honoured to be able to donate some of my income from ‘Follow the Butterflies’ to Butterfly Conservation – and my new course (wait for it, announcement soon!) will donate a percentage to Treesisters.
But, when you are living hand to mouth as I have been for so long, this kind of generosity seems impossible.
Yet, it is exactly this sort of sharing which gives meaning and purpose to my work. It feels gorgeous and opens the door, I think, to more abundance.
I realised the most important thing of all…..
A well supported Jani can do so very much more good in the world! There’s a world of difference between a greedy profit-grabbing businessperson and a heart-centred entrepreneur. In short – the better I do, or the better The Art House does, the better it is for our community. The more people we can help.
One thing that has really sung through to me is that *I* do what I do because I love it (of course!) and would do it for free if I could. In fact, I *have* done it for free my entire adult life, most of the time, and that will no doubt continue a lot of the time!
BUT, my *businesses* need to make money, because – well, that’s what they do! If it’s not making money, it’s not a business – it’s something else. Even a not-for-profit business has to make money to survive & thrive.
Lastly, I made an interesting discovery with my courses and playshops. When I put my prices up, I got really good participants. People who were willing to invest in their creative development. People who were COMMITTED to working with me, and did the work.
….and, I found my own level of enthusiasm and commitment was affected by the investment people were making. I felt energised and excited by their faith in me.
It was an eye-opener, I can tell you!
So – what I am doing to assist me in this journey? Well, I believe in learning and self development and I’ve been a busy bunny reading what some top coaches have to say, including the lovely Christine Kane, Denise Duffield Thomas and Marie Forleo. In their many lovely free training videos and livestreams, they’ve challenged me to do some scary stuff. Here’s just some of it:-
* No trades:
No bartering for things me or The Art House usually charge for – like ‘publicity opportunities’ or free services. This one has been HARD!
The reality is, most of my & The Art House’s business expenses aren’t open to trade. We need cash to pay them and to pay ourselves, and staff.
* Price as high as is comfortable, or just outside my comfort zone.
This is scary and I am working on balancing my concern that people won’t be able to afford my stuff (the last thing I want is to only be available to rich people!) and getting an equal energy exchange for work put in.
Looking at memberships, instalments and affiliate programmes has really opened this area up for me. By giving people a chance to pay gradually, or by sharing commission when people promote my stuff, I remain accessible whilst not doing myself out of the income I need.
* Put prices up.
Arg! Scary! Haven’t done this much yet except for The Art House room hire and the cost of my real-life workshops, but have been pleasantly surprised by the result.
* Be realistic about the true cost to you of the goods & services you provide.
This involves some slightly scary breaking down of business figures, which this hippy hates. But, the truth with set you free and all that – and often once you’ve done a breakdown, the figures don’t look as rosy as they once did!
Having a real, down-to-earth assessment of your costs and time is useful to make sure you’re not undercharging for what you do.
* Communicate the value of what you offer.
I’ve had a few chances to try this out, getting back to clients with quotes. Surprisingly, this felt GOOD and helped me see that what we are offering is WORTH IT.
See, most people are happy to pay for a good product or service – I know I am. In fact, I sometimes find things ‘reassuringly expensive’ and see cheaper stuff as lower quality.
Also, as Christine Kane points out in this blog post, bargain hunters do not make the best clients – and I have to agree on that point!
* Be generous with free offers, when it’s comfortable
I am learning to tell the difference between free offers or discounts made out of a sense of unworthiness, and ones made from a true feeling of generosity.
Because I will sometimes want to just put something out there freely, either because it just feels that important, like my UnEarth your Creative Nature eCourse, or because I’m trying something new and want feedback, or because I know it will help me reach new people.
I am having quite a good time with getting in touch with my inner wise self for this one, so that I never lose my sense of generosity, which is a huge part of who I am, but avoid self-sabotaging my financial wellbeing.
I will keep you all posted and hope this blog post has had some useful info for you. Please comment below & let me know your thoughts, and feel free to share this post along!