Money seems to have become a recurring theme on my podcast, but not quite in the way you may be imagining. 

-Listen to the audio version of this post on my podcast below-

On this podcast I rarely talk about or intend to talk about income reports, breaking through income goals or breaking an income ceiling, because for one thing, there are so many other podcasts that already talk about those things. 

And for another, that’s not the focus of my business. 

However, there is something a little more interesting when it comes to money, and that goes back to the idea of creating from a space of love instead of a space of fear

My listeners may also remember an episode which I did a few weeks ago on why you shouldn’t start a blog or a business for the sake of money. That was episode 7

So this week I want to talk about a slight shift in doing something which I started implementing a few weeks ago and why this is something that other coaches and business owners may want to consider as well. And that is the idea of offering free discovery calls. 

Now to understand the context for this you have to go back to the beginning of the year. That was when I started charging for what I call my discovery calls; it was a very nominal amount. It was like $5 or something for about 15 to 20 minutes of discussion. 

And at that time, I remember I had this logic in my mind that said if I charged something for this, people would take it more seriously. They would value my time. They would respect where I am and they’d actually show up for the calls.  

And funnily enough, while it did work to some extent, I very rarely actually had people signing up for those clarity calls. More often than not, I had most of my existing long-term clients directly signing up for a coaching session or a group workshop or a deep dive personal one on one workshop. 

And when I went back and looked at this discovery call and I started looking at it from the perspective of a regular user, a person who doesn’t know much about me, a person who’s perhaps heard something about me from somebody that they’ve been following. 

So think about this. You go to a website of a coach or a business owner and you start looking at the services that they’re offering. 

One of the things as a new potential client or customer that you are looking at is just the idea of knowing whether you’re a good fit for this particular business. Will this coach work for you? Will that business keep your interests at the forefront? 

Now if I put a barrier of money at that step, even if it is something as minimal as $5, it’s still a barrier. And the reason that is important to understand or keep in mind is that there is always a sense of resistance when it comes to trying something new. 

This is not the fault of the business owner. This is not the fault of the customer, it’s just a matter of truth. We always resist doing something for the first time. When it’s something new. 

I started looking at this and this was when I was redesigning my coaching page and I decided “Why don’t I just do away with the paid discovery call? Instead, why don’t I offer that same call for free for all my potential clients?” 

And this is especially something that came to me after I did my session with Caroline Leon. One of the things she talks about is how we just connect with our customers, our subscribers, our readers, and our audience from a space of authenticity through a virtual coffee or a virtual chat. 

And she says, when you do this, when you connect with people,do it from a space of absolute service. In other words, don’t expect that the person who signs up for a session is necessarily going to convert to a paying client. 

Don’t offer a free clarity session with the possibility that something may come out of it; instead offer everything that you would do to a paying client completely for free. 

And while that struck me as a bit of an odd business strategy, when I first heard of it, upon reflection I realized this was actually perfectly in alignment with my personal goal, and that is to build authentic connections. 

I then went back and looked at some of the other service providers, not necessarily in the coaching space, who were doing something similar. 

And one of the service providers I want to highlight here is my own WordPress hosting provider. They’re called Chemicloud. I remember when I was looking at shifting providers from my existing host and I wanted to move to a new host. I went ahead and looked at their website and I noticed they had a free chat option right there on the homepage. 

I logged into the chat and I waited for about 3 seconds and I had a customer service representative come online and answer a whole slew of questions for about 30 minutes at no extra charge. 

And at the end of it, I told them, “Well, I have not decided if I’m going to make the shift to just yet, and I’m hoping that’s OK.” 

And I loved their response and they said “You don’t need to make that decision right now. Even if you don’t make the decision to shift to us, we’re so happy to have served you.” 

And that is when the penny dropped. 

We were so happy to serve you. We were so happy to connect with you.

Especially in a world that is constantly looking at our wallets and looking at us as a potential customer, to hear this from a service provider was such a breath of fresh air. To know that I didn’t have to be committing to anything, putting my wallet out there, opening it up and shelling out money just yet until I had built trust and faith in the person who was doing this. 

And that’s when I realized that is how every one of our actions should be as a coach or as a service provider. We need to operate completely and utterly from a space of service. We need to do it from the space of understanding that I want to serve my customer and I want to help them in any way possible. 

And when we do this, some very interesting things happen. I’m going to talk about two incidents which happened in the recent past. 

The first is a long-term client of mine; she and I have worked together in the last year over multiple sessions. She reached out last week saying she had a question about podcasting and she said, “ How do I set up the next call with you?” 

I looked at her query and I told her, “You know what? This doesn’t really require a detailed call. We should be able to get through this in a free clarity session.” 

And then this beautiful thing that happened. She booked the call and within minutes, my phone lit up with a message saying that I had received some money from her and I was surprised! When I went and opened my email there was a message from her saying “I’ve booked a call and as a token of my gratitude and appreciation I’ve transferred some money.” 

That is the power of service. 

When you truly serve with more expectations and with no attachment to the outcomes, results just manifest even without your expecting it. 

The second incident I want to call to mind is of another client who has been following me on my social media channels for I think close to two years now or maybe a year and a half. She reached out late last week and set up a clarity session and I was expected to meet with her this week. 

Just before our session, she sent me a very detailed and in-depth mail explaining her financial situation and what truly touched me was the vulnerability that she was able to express through that email. 

It is so hard, especially for women, to own up to the fact that money is a crunch situation and that we may not have the funds necessarily available right here and right now to invest in something. 

At that moment I was so glad that this free clarity call option existed. Because while I make money from my coaching and with my paid clients, there has always been a part of me which wants to give back to the community in some way. Somehow the clarity calls have given me the opportunity to do that to truly serve my audience where they’re at, while not having to worry about maybe a 5 or $10 income which may come from that particular clarity call.  

Because the beautiful thing that happens instead of those $5 or $10 is that you build an authentic connection and a reliable way of engaging with your target audience in ways that I cannot really explain. 

So now let’s come to the practical aspect of setting up a clarity call. And how do you decide if you should set up a clarity call? And how do you decide how if you should do it? 

So I’m going to link to my coach George Kao’s post on the tapering strategy

Let’s say you have a reasonably full calendar of client calls in a particular week. 

Try and incorporate a second calendar which does not conflict with your paid calls. 

Make sure that people are able to book these sessions on a separate calendar and that kind of links back to your existing calendar and limit those to about two to three sessions per week or based on the amount of time availability that you have. 

What this will do is it will ensure that you strike a balance between your paid sessions and your free clarity sessions. 

On one hand, you are building trust. You are connecting with your audience. You are helping people through the clarity sessions. On the other hand, your paid sessions will ensure that your business stays afloat and continues to thrive, even if you are not really filling the calendar every week with fully paid calls. 

Because what I have learned in this experience as a business owner is that money should not be the governing factor driving our business. The number one thing that should happen, especially for coaches and business owners is the concept of service. 

It is the idea of helping our audience in whatever way we can and ensuring that we do this from a complete space of selflessness with absolutely no attachment to a possible outcome. 

And I know this is not going to necessarily come easily to every single one of us, and that’s OK, especially if most of us are freelancers who kind of rely on this as a primary source of income. 

However, it is something that I would love for you to consider. At least try and offer one free session a week as a business. Connect with people where they’re at. 

Engage with them on social media if you have an active social media channel, respond to your emails and make sure that you make the person feel heard, acknowledged and loved. When we do this I can assure you that showing up for your job on a daily basis becomes so much more enjoyable, so much more fulfilling and you walk away with a sense of quiet comfort. 

{This is a transcript of my podcast episode and has been edited for length and clarity}


Shailaja V

I’m a content & productivity coach with over 14 years of writing, blogging and social media experience. Read my story & more about my work here.

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