I decided to do something scary and counterintuitive last week. Something so unheard of, that some business owners would think I was crazy.
And I may totally regret this…
But first, some backstory…
Over the last fifteen years, my focus has been on large, corporate brands (for instance, AAA was a client.) I loved digging into complex stakeholder and process issues, creating out-of-the-box solutions, and helping their writing teams thrive.
Heck, one AAA travel division saw a huge bump in traffic after my training — and this was DURING THE PANDEMIC when people weren’t traveling.
It was so much fun, and I loved it…
…Until I realized something was eating at my soul.
I come from a small business owner background. I watched my parents stress over their bed and bath store (RIP, Bedcetra,) trying to sell products and figure out a business.
It was a lot — and this was before Google. I’m 100 percent sure my mother’s aneurysm death was due to business stress.
I was just 20 when it happened.
Today, business owners — whether they have an office or live strictly online — have it even harder than my mom ever did.
They don’t have time to figure out the latest Google changes.
They don’t have time to figure out what to write about.
They don’t have time to coach themselves and get their mindset right.
So, they pay a LOT of money to so-so firms to help them.
One friend pays $4,500 a month for one blog post that looks like it was written by ChatGPT, plus a few random social posts.
When I ask about performance or a content strategy, my friend gives me a blank look. It’s so bad, her blog posts aren’t even attributed to her — and she’s one of the top experts in the nation. Her stupid SEO/branding company shows them as written by “Staff.”
Yeah, that’s not good for her, Google, readers — or anyone.
And this kind of &#%@ is NORMAL.
Plus, there are so many companies (maybe even you) that need only a few hours of help every month.
They don’t want to (or can’t afford to) get stuck in a long-term retainer contract. They need flexibility and affordability.
(Maybe that sounds familiar.)
This hit close to home when I was chatting with someone about my Slow Branding package. It’s a $5K+ package that offers all sorts of customized help — basically, I ignore the clock and work with someone whenever and however they need me.
It’s great for a seasoned professional who can invest time and income. It’s not so great for someone who isn’t making bigger money yet.
This person is smart and motivated. Yet, she’s at the beginning of her freelance career, so $5K is more than she could do right now. And I get it — even if I know I could accelerate her learning curve so much.
And I won’t suggest people “put it on their credit card and consider it an investment.” Yes, in-depth coaching can be transformative. But that’s a big expense when money is a stressor.
Although she could have worked with me hourly, the investment — especially at that level — would add up fast. For her, the math didn’t make sense.
That’s when the wheels started turning…
Between that experience, trying to help my friend shave down her $4,500/month spend, wanting to help an integrative medicine clinic that’s doing amazing work with ketamine-assisted therapy, and thinking about what makes me happiest, I realized my soul was at a crossroads.
I can continue to charge high consulting prices and only work with large corporations — and figure small/medium businesses aren’t my market.
Basically, do what I’ve always done — even if it doesn’t fill my soul.
And let’s face it: This is the time in my career when I can make that money. Many OG SEOs charge $750+ an hour. One charges $5K a month just for access to his brain with no guaranteed hours.
I could do the scary thing, slice my hourly rate by more than half, and help smaller businesses and solopreneurs who need it.
So I’m doing the scary thing.
And OMG, it’s scary — especially since most “experts” would tell you to (1) never work hourly, (2) never discount your prices, and (3) always require a retainer.
At the same time, I think about my favorite clients back in the day, who were all paying around $299/hr for consulting, writing, coaching — all the things.
- I became an embedded part of their businesses and worked with them for a few hours every month.
- I felt like I was helping friends, so their successes became my successes.
- I was able to help more freelance writers and solopreneurs
- I felt more respect. (I’ll never forget the big-brand client who basically said, “Sorry your cat is dying, but we’ll want our money back if you postpone the training.”)
- I felt happier and more integrated.
In fact, when I told my husband about my decision this morning, he reminded me that I was happiest when working with smaller clients. Larger clients may be cool for my checking account, but that’s not where my heart is right now.
(As a side note, I know I could do both — but I’ve been saying that for years, and that hasn’t been my reality. When I go in, I go ALL IN. And that means focusing on one target market — small businesses.)
So here’s where I’ve landed — and I’m trying this as a one-month experiment.
- New clients can work with me for $299/hr (This doesn’t include my Slow Branding training package or customized trainings with all the things. Those are more intensive engagements that require more Heather time.)
- I’m starting with limited a block of $299 hours to see how things go.
- You can purchase one hour or a block of time that I’ll reserve for you (which is best for ongoing work, including coaching, sales page writing, or content consulting.) The time is yours.
Contact me if you want to reserve more of my time.
- If you’re unsure how much time something will take, hit “reply” and ask. I can’t (and won’t) write a sales page in one hour, but I can give you a time estimate.
- If you need me to review something prior to a call, cool — but that means less time on the phone. Hourly rates are, well, by the hour. The more time I have, the more feedback I can provide.
- If you want to work out a deal where we’re working X hours a month, every month, cool. (For instance, if you need weekly coaching or have a copywriting project.) Hit “reply” to this note, and we can work it out.
Oh, and for the folks who say $299/hour isn’t small business-friendly — I can spot stuff in 30 seconds that it takes people with less experience days to discover. If you can find your answer on YouTube, Google, or TikTok, go for it. I do that too!
But…if you want an expert pouring over your site and making suggestions — you’ll want to chat with me.
Why is this just a one-month experiment?
Because I may learn something new that bounces me in a different direction and feeds my soul in a different way.
I may find my idea isn’t as fun as I had hoped.
I may find that people don’t care, and nobody signs up — even with a one-month sense of urgency deadline.
I may find this idea pulls me away from creating training courses, which I also love.
I don’t know what I don’t know.
And that’s the point. I can keep doing what I’ve been doing, and feel so-so happy (and not particularly fulfilled.)
Or I can try something new and see what shakes out.
Wait! Won’t I take a financial hit for this?
Probably yes. Especially at the beginning.
I’d love to say that I was totally Zen about possibly “losing” money during a time when expenses are through the roof (sick kitties are expensive.)
Still, there are two things that make me feel like I’m on the right path:
- It’s more important for me to feel happy and fulfilled. When I dislike what I do, no amount of cash makes me smile. Which is why I never went the agency route — I knew I’d make bunches of cash and hate it the entire time.
- I’ve learned that taking a step back can sometimes result in a huge leap forward. I wouldn’t be surprised if I end up making more money because I’m enjoying myself more and meeting new people.
In short, I’m curious how this works out — and it will probably be in a wild and totally unexpected way.
What does all this mean to you?
First, it’s easier than ever to work with me!
But more importantly, I’d encourage you to take a look at something in your life and ask yourself, “What if I did the scary thing?”
You may find it’s what you’ve wanted to do all along. And it will feel so good once you do it again.
What do you think? I’d love to hear from you, so leave a comment and share your thoughts. Thank you!