Being in an industry that is unfortunately seasonal, last winter I hit on a really good idea (or so I thought). In the interest of increasing my database and getting some exposure during what is usually the slow season, I decided to do a deal with the devil….oops, I mean a certain company (not to mention any names, but suffice to say it begins with a “G”). The deal was to offer half price tarot readings to draw business. No problem (again, or so I thought). It would merely keep me busy during few hours a week that I had free anyhow. And, of course, it would bring in new clients. So what if, after the “G” company’s percentage, mine was only a pittance? I would have been sitting around twiddling my thumbs anyway. Best to keep oneself occupied and look toward long term reward instead of short term gain.
I must mention, said company has a HUGE client base. Said company is very popular, or at least very visible. Said company however, is not popular with me. Nor, I believe, with those owners/service providers/entrepreneurs/companies who have been on the receiving end of their extremely low rates, in exchange for what one initially believes is at least a way to bring in extra business. With hindsight, it turned out to be one of the silliest business decisions I have ever made. And believe me, I have made a few errors along the way, as we entrepreneurs/freelance agents are wont to do. I might argue that I was a tad green to think that the benefits would outweigh the negatives, but we live and learn. Anyway, I digress.
THE FAMOUS FREEBIE
You see – and I confess, in utter shame and embarrassment – that in reality, what I had actually agreed to do, was to give tarot readings at HALF of the half price. Do the math. Not pretty. Humiliatingly stupid, actually. What made it even worse, was that that the response I received far exceeded expectations. Normally, this would be a good thing. But, it meant that instead of fitting in a few extra people during a few free hours, I ended up doing so many readings (hundreds darling) in the space of 3 months, that I couldn’t even see straight. And essentially, I did it for FREE. For bloody free. Let that sink in for a moment. And no, in case you were wondering, I am not a trust fund baby. Imagine working for three months and not being paid for it. An expensive lesson all round. And worse because there was no-one but myself to blame.
It went on. And on. My hands were tied, I was committed to seeing it through. I HAD to honor all the damn clients who just kept on coming. It got to the point where I wanted to scream if anyone mentioned the “G-Word”. It certainly hit the spot, but not for the right reasons. The hellish admin, which included 50 million emails and phone calls (give or take), to explain and pin down appointment times. The farcical challenge of trying to fit in my ‘normal’ clients and income-producing work. The gritting of teeth whilst dealing with an almost intolerable ilk of ignorance. The admirable restraint of managing not to hit every idiot who irked me with unbelievable expectations due to their insufferable arrogance. Why is it, that instead of being appreciative when you hit a brilliant bargain – most people expect a million dollars worth for a few bucks? Its such an ironic spin on ‘you get what you pay for” – these buggers hit a gold mine and I was the only one on the receiving end, by selling myself way short.
Admittedly, I met, made, impressed and satisfied a few wonderful people that crossed my path and have become some of my most valued and amazing clients. But I also satisfied, with gritted teeth – 99% of the other…ahem…mothers (!) at huge cost to my patience, blood pressure and bank balance. Due to the sheer numbers, regrettably, a few managed to fall through the cracks – I really could have done with a secretary and a bigger turn around time. I ended up exhausted and damn near burned out. When I looked at a Tarot card I wanted to hit someone. When my phone rang I wanted to stomp on it. I nearly lost my empathy, my compassion and my mind. Ok, I might have exaggerated somewhat about that. But not much.
THE REAL DEAL
If you want to find out your true worth, then freebies will show it to you, one way or another. Give people a finger, they will surely take your hand. If you want to find all the ungrateful suckers out there, offer them a freebie and they will turn up in droves. Best to forget the freebies and give them THE finger. It was a hard way to learn a good lesson – you either work long and hard stupidly, or you work cleverly – less is indeed more. Pun intended. I am forever grateful to those newfound wonderful clients that I met and had amazing moments with, and to all my regulars and supporters over the years. You don’t know how good you make me look, and feel. Excellent at what I do and eternally humbled by your gratitude (both of which I am). You are welcome to cross my palm with silver any time, just make sure its a lot of silver. Just don’t mention the “G” word.