I may be mad but I’ve decided to experiment with (PWYC) Pay What You Can pricing on my workshops.

I first learned about pay-what-you-can pricing from Tad Hargrave from Marketing for Hippies . He uses this model very successfully for his live marketing workshops. 

My thinking around PWYC has come from Tad’s great e-book. It’s packed with useful ideas and his best stories/experiences of how pay-what-you-can has worked for him (and when it hasn’t). I highly recommend Tad’s ebook if you’re thinking of trying this model! 

At first it seems like a fabulous idea – it allows people to access your work when otherwise it would be out of their reach.


What is PWYC ?


Pay what you can/want is not a new thing; it’s been around for quite a while in restaurants, music venues and for street performers it’s the standard method of payment for their time, energy and skill. 

Yet attaching this payment model to a business teaching/training with a much higher perceived value is risky, right?! 

You might be thinking…

“People might pay nothing!”

“It devalues the whole thing so people won’t take it seriously, or be committed to the process.” 

“People might book and then just not show up”. 


How to increase the likelihood PWYC will be profitable for you:


The critical pieces that Tad suggests must be in place for this to work. 


  1. Get a deposit

Take a minimal deposit (I’m charging £15).  This increases the likelihood they will actually turn up, and serves as a small commitment up front that they will take it seriously. 


  1. Make sure it’s clear what your ‘market value’ is for the workshop

This gives people a ‘ball park’ figure to work with, so they know what the full amount would be. It takes the pressure away from thinking “what on earth should I pay?” – and increases the chance of people paying significantly more than zero. 


  1. Don’t shy away from talking about the money stuff.

One way that Tad explains this can all go horribly wrong is if you leave it totally up to the participants, and have a vague ‘jar at the back of the room’ type set up for collecting money. 

You must talk about the money piece, and call out the ‘elephant in the room’. This reassures people that although it’s understandably awkward, you’re taking the lead in describing to them exactly how you’d like it to work. 

Ideally you need to speak about this at the beginning, middle and end. It takes the pressure off the participants, making it easy for them to relax and genuinely enjoy the whole workshop. 

“Making a living out of ‘doing good’ takes a solid foundation of healthy business mindset”


Why am I trying PWYC pricing? 


I’ve decided to experiment with this pricing model for my central Scotland workshops. I want to attract more people from my local area, and also to help people who would otherwise not be able to afford to come along. 

There are loads of reasons (listed in Tad’s excellent book ) for why this pricing model is a good idea. There’s also several reasons why it’s a big risk! 

Here’s my favourite reasons for why it might be great for me. 


My top 3 selfish reasons to offer PWYC pricing.


  1. I don’t need to pretend to be an expert at leading workshops.


I’ve led a few workshops in my time but I’m no expert, and I could do without that pressure, actually. 

Instead I can just show up, and deliver to the best of my ability. I will then make sure my participants have a meaningful experience and leave with great value. 

I get to test and tweak along the way, meaning my workshops will get better over time. Also my participants get to pay a fair price for the value they receive on the day.


2. I’ll get more people into my workshops 


Because the risk is so low (or even reversed) – it means more people will venture out and risk showing up, even if they’re not sure what they will get out of it. 

More people means more money, more word of mouth, and the more people I’m helping with my valuable mindset work. 


3. My personal growth


I know I’ve probably got my own ‘stuff ‘ around money – and it will be a stretch for me to talk about this in the workshop. I’ll have to deal with my own discomfort, and practice reassuring other people that it’s ok to have ‘stuff’ around money. I’ll be practising naming that ‘elephant in the room’, and dealing with it head on. 

Doing PWYC pricing will force me to strengthen my boundaries, let go of some stuff that I cannot control and generally challenge my usual comfortable ‘status quo’. 

I’m always up for a challenge! 


My Top Selfless Reason to offer PWYC pricing.  


I want to work with generous, kind-hearted people who genuinely want to make a difference in the world through their work. Very often these people have ‘stuff’ around money/pricing, giving and receiving along with a whole host of ‘mindset’ things that I am very skilled at helping with. 

It’s very important to me that the people who can most benefit from my work, also have access to it at an affordable price. 

Changing the world and making a living out of doing good takes a lot of ‘businessy’ skills. In my view what needs to underpin all of that is having a solid foundation with a healthy business mindset. 

I want to help many more compassionate change-makers get their work out into the world. To do that, it’s my belief that changing their mindset is one of the core things they need to do first. 

It’s an experiment,  and I really hope it works. 

Read about my PWYC business mindset workshops. 

I’ll report back when I have some data to share! 

Over to you:

I’d love to know how this lands with you.  Do you have any experience of pay what you can (PWYC) pricing – either as a business or a consumer? 

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