DEAR HARRIETTE: I am a professional life coach. I help clients sort out their problems and make smarter choices. So far, it’s been going well. I mainly get clients through word of mouth.
The one thing that I haven’t figured out is how to get my friends and family to pay for my services. It’s one thing to give a little advice here and there, but several people in my life go so far as to call me and to schedule time to pick my brain without ever considering that they should pay for my services. Meanwhile, they will pay for all kinds of other services, such as manicures, the hairdresser and all kinds of other beauty services. I don’t know why they should be more valuable than the services I offer. What can I do? -- Time to Charge
DEAR TIME TO CHARGE: Family members and friends often take loved ones for granted without meaning to. They are likely so accustomed to you doling out advice that it hasn’t occurred to them that they should pay. It can be difficult getting them to pay even after you make them aware of their behavior.
One way to create boundaries around your work is to let them know that this is how you earn a living. Offer to “give” a half-hour of free advice. Any professional counseling time after that you can offer to them at a friends-and-family discount. In this way, you let them know what your standard fees are and what you are willing to offer them. If they balk, stop giving them advice. Tell them you just want to hang out and enjoy each other’s company and not have to work. Then, stick to it.