Kathi Lipp and Cheri Gregory are back in part 2 of this amazing series helping us to move from free to fee! In the first episode, we learned about how to start using free products and services to start earning money. Free products and services can serve as a beautiful gateway to bring more people in to see what you have to offer. Kathi and Cheri take us on a journey beyond that gateway in the exploration of Cheri’s unique evolution from free to fee and her two pivotal moments that revolutionized how she now serves her audience. Join in to learn:
- How we can help people with their intentions
- How we can help people achieve transformation
- What inspiration and motivation has to do with it
- How to generate specific products and services you can charge a fee for
4 Week Group Coaching with Kathi and Cheri:
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Meet Your Hosts
Author, Speaker, Communicator Academy Creator and CEO
Cheri is the co-author of four books, co-host of the Grit ‘n’ Grace podcast, co-leader of the Sensitive and Strong Community Café, and founder of Write Beside You communicator coaching.
Cheri and her college sweetheart, Daniel, have been married for 32 years and live in California near their two adult children.
Free-to-Fee Part 2
Kathi: Well, hey friends! Welcome to the writing of the Red House podcast where we gather the table to break bread and tell tales with some of our favorite writers and speakers who love to share the story of God’s extravagant love. And I am back here today for part two of our series From Free to Fee: How to Start or Scale Up Earning Money in Your Business. And I am here with Cheri Gregory, my co-author, and my co-teacher for our new group coaching program, helping people to go from giving everything away for free to actually charging a fee so you can actually stay in your business and ministry for more than a minute. Cheri, welcome back to the podcast.
Cheri: Oh, thanks so much for having me back, Kathi.
Kathi: Okay, so last week we talked, it was such a great conversation. And if you haven’t listened to it, go back and listen to that. But we talked about how free can be used in a really great way not only to serve your audience, but also to define your audience, define your business; and then also it can be used as a gateway to help people discover you and when they go deeper into your offerings.
So, tell me a little bit about your journey because we talked about before that you trained your audience to expect everything for free. And by the way, I’ve seen Cheri work with some of her – I can’t even call call them clients because they haven’t necessarily paid; I think of a client as somebody who’s paid something, or subscriber – but I mean, I know when you see somebody who needs help, you want to help.
Cheri: I’m an Enneagram 2, it’s compulsive.
Kathi: It’s your whole job. This is why God’s put you here on Earth. But also, that was starting to burn you out?
Cheri: Oh, yeah, there’s only so much of me to go around.
Kathi: And here’s what I know: that for most people when they actually do need help, they understand that there’s a trade of resources. And I know people are gonna push back on this, we’re gonna get emails from people who say, you know, I can’t afford anything. And that’s when I say, you know what, there is a ton of information out there. And so, if God is calling you to do this, or to, you know, be in a healing place for HSP not that you’re healed of being a highly sensitive person, but, you know, there are effects of that that needs to be controlled and managed. There are people who are willing to pay. And people who are willing to pay allows us to tie to the people who can’t pay. And so I want to find out a little bit more about your evolution from free to starting to charge a fee for things,
Cheri: You know it really actually came down to two pivotal moments. One was a couple years ago when a longtime reader and podcast listener reached out to me, and she said, “I would like to pay you.” No, I’m not kidding. She’s like, “I want to support your ministry. How can I give you money?” Now that doesn’t happen very often, and I didn’t take her seriously. I like, didn’t know what to do. I thought she was kidding. And so I don’t think I responded to her.
Kathi: I have had that feeling before. It wasn’t a person though. It was a service, Trello. Trello – you can pay, but all we needed was the free service. But I’m like, I wish there was a Patreon or something. I could just send the money because it’s so valuable to me.
Cheri: I’m the same way. Isn’t it weird that we value paying for other things, and we value paying other people. But the idea that somebody would want to pay me was so uncomfortable was so weird. And I know we’re not going into the psychology of during this podcast series.
The other moment that was so pivotal for me was a year ago now when I started my membership, The Sensitive & Strong Community Cafe. And I didn’t know what I was doing. I just put it out there. I was looking for some early adopters. And I said, “I’m looking for founding members.” And I told them, “Here’s my vision. I don’t even know what it’s going to look like. But it’s going to be this amount per month.” And so I put that offer out there and in the exact same week for the exact same offer with me being the exact same person, I got emails from people telling me how horrible I was, that I was, you know that I was ungodly, hat I should quit, they demanded to be taken off my email list, I had people unsubscribe; but then I also had a group of people who were like, “Where do I pay?” And they were, you know, there were different reactions in the middle. But what was so astonishing was that in the same week being the same person with the same offer, I got these exact opposite responses. And I thought, “This must not be about me. This must be about the other people.” And they’re all wonderful people who God loves and who I would love to serve.
Kathi: Well, God loves all of them. I don’t know that they’re all wonderful people. People who are chastising you and saying you should quit the ministry?
Cheri: That was a little strange, I’ll admit.
Kathi: So God loves all of them.
Cheri: But it was just, it was like, both of these can’t be true. I can’t be a horrible, awful person and have people offering me money to be part of this new thing I’m doing and that’s what really made me go, “Oh, there are people who want to be a part of a paid offer and who’ve been looking – ” and that’s what I hear now, is “I’ve been looking for something like this!” and I’m like, “Oh.”
Kathi: Well, because paying does a couple of things. It does a lot of things. But it does two things that I can see very, very clearly. One, it keeps the people who are doing good things in business.
Cheri: Yes, it does.
Kathi: And two, when I pay for something, I am 1000 more times likely – that was probably not grammatically correct, but you know what I mean – to actually follow through on my commitment.
Cheri: You’re invested.
Kathi: I’m invested. There is true value – like, what I’ve seen from people who went from Clutter-free Academy, which is my free group where we see a lot of life changing, great things; to people who have been able to stay in their homes, or people who marriages have gotten better because they’re part of the paid group and they feel that accountability. It makes it so you know, people are saying, take my money, please.
Cheri: Well, and I’ve had the paradigm shift, that charging a fee isn’t just for me. It is actually a gift to the person who does the purchasing of the product or the service, because it invites them to invest and to get those transformational results.
Kathi: So good, so good. So let’s talk about yet because, okay, so we were talking about when we give something away for free, we give information away for free. Like, there is so much information on my website, in the group, all that kind of stuff. But when we charge a fee, we are helping people with their intention.
So we say, okay, you intend to do this thing. If you commit this money to it, and you commit your time and follow through, you’re going to have life change. And that’s what people are looking for is life change. And so I would say probably at least more than half of the people who are in Clutter-free Academy, it’s a nice place for them to hang out. They feel better because at least they’re part of a clutter-free group and maybe something will rub off on them. But the people who have said, “I’m putting money behind this because I need to change something in my life,” do so much better, and really do make the life change.
Cheri: So would you say that there’s a direct line between that intention and transformation?
Kathi: Oh, for sure. 100%. You know, it’s the same thing, when I pay to go to a conference when I pay to. And for me, it has to – there’s a lot of things I’ve paid 20 bucks for that I have not followed through on; and right now, 20 bucks means a lot more to me than it did two years ago. But you know, it’s so interesting, the psychology behind it. But let’s be honest, it keeps us in business. So I’m not gonna apologize for charging.
Cheri: We all know from experience, that information alone doesn’t cause transformation.
Kathi: Right. It just doesn’t. That’s why an educated communicator would – like you are, you can talk until you’re blue in the face and give them all the facts and the figures. But until they’re inspired to change or motivated to change, nothing’s gonna happen.
So there are a lot of ways that you can collect a fee for what you’re doing. And I think the most standard and basic that all of us aspire to, or have done, is writing a book. Yeah. So here’s what I love about a book. When somebody comes up – I remember being part of a writers group, and somebody told me, “I hate when people tell me ‘I checked your book out of the library, and it changed my life.’” Because they didn’t get paid for it. Now, first of all, libraries are the best. Yes, libraries buy a lot of books, they share a lot of books, and I consider that free advertising. So a book can be free to people. Which is a beautiful thing. But also it’s the most common form of fee. Now there’s another, you know, entity involved, the publisher, and all of that. But that’s one way you can do it. But you’ve got some other ones that you’ve been exploring. So talk about study guides.
Cheri: Yeah, and you did this with Clutter Free. You’ve got the Bible study that you indie published through Amazon. And then for Exhale, Amy and I did a group leaders guide and then the individual study guide. And those have been really, really well received.
Kathi: Oh, that’s awesome. And yeah, I have a beautiful system where – Amazon just – I never have to ship anything. Everything’s done through Amazon. And those still sell! Not a ton. Because it’s been years and years. But every once in a while.
Okay, now talk about contract work, editing, graphics, things like that.
Cheri: I think I think, you know, when somebody’s thinking, what can I possibly do for you know, to earn some money? You know, I’ve done editing work, it’s not my favorite thing to do. But there are standard rates for that. If somebody has some talented graphic design using Canva or Photoshop or something like that, that’s something that those of us who are in the publishing industry or the speaking industry, or communication, we often need.
Kathi: Everybody’s got a side gig. You’ve done editing, consulting, that kind of stuff. You know, I have done – I‘m trying to think, you know, I’ve done a million different things, because writing books and speaking doesn’t always pay all the bills. And now you know, as my business has grown, and we have deeper ways of, you know, investing in our own message that has changed, but when you’re first starting out, you know it like you said, graphics, editing, those kind of things. It’s a beautiful thing.
Cheri: And I’m thinking specifically of things that come very naturally. Really like, you know, there’s a variety of my ministry friends who if they need something quickly edited, they’ll send it to me and I’ll give it the quick ones over in five or ten minutes, I don’t charge them for that; but that’s something that comes easily to me. I’m not saying do a side gig that you have to do a ton of learning for. That’s going to be draining, but it’s something that’s already part of something you do.
Kathi: Yeah, like it would never pay for me to go and learn graphic design either. And actually editing I can’t do. I can do holistic editing, like read over a book and say –
Cheri: Yeah, but you can come up with titles like nobody’s business.
Kathi: I do love a good title. And I can help solve problems, but I can’t tell you what a dangling participle is for the life of me.
Cheri: I could, but it’s not worth knowing.
Kathi: Okay, good.
Tutorials, explain about tutorials.
Cheri: ’m thinking of that for some kind of a very specific skill, where it doesn’t need to be a full-on ecourse, it could be a written tutorial, it could be a video tutorial, you know, whatever is appropriate. But again, this is for something that you know how to do that’s going to be a value, whether it’s for your reader, whether it’s for somebody else in the profession. And again, it could be probably short, 15, 20, 30 minutes to consume, but put a dollar figure on it.
Kathi: Yeah, you know, it’s very interesting. We have been building a lot of stuff here at The Red House. And Roger has this new favorite site – I can’t remember, it might be like plans 101 or something like that, I can’t remember; I will put a link to it here in case we have any homesteading, you know, hearts out there. But it’s a list of all these different plans, and they’re all for free. But basically, there’s a tip jar, and so you can pay and so Roger always pays what the going rate is, but he loves being able to look at the plans to say this is exactly what I want. And so that’s kind of a tutorial. I’ve seen other places where they’ve done videos. We actually have a – it’s a course, but it’s kind of a tutorial. It’s called seven days to a published post. And that’s something we recorded probably five years ago, and still sell weekly.
Cheri: And so to me one lesson out of that would be a tutorial? You string them together, you have an ecourse.
Kathi: Exactly. And so that was our next thing is an ecourse. And you break it down. They’re also micro courses, mini courses…
Cheri: The reason I break it down is because people think ecourse and they think “Must have 10 billion hours and workbooks!” and everything. And so just think about what is something that you’re either already talking about over and over and over again. I know that Amy Carroll with her coaching, she got tired of teaching the same thing over and over again. And so she recorded some of the baseline stuff, and that became tutorials. You put enough tutorials together, you have yourself a micro course or a mini court. To me, a micro course might have just a few lessons. One module, you’re done. Mini course might have one or two modules, whereas you have more of a signature course. And that’s gonna be something much more extensive. Nobody should start with the signature course. And I think the thing most people the mistake most people make with an ecourse is that they think their their video needs to be 30 or 40 minutes long. When five minutes, one tiny little bite – you know your material well, the person who’s buying it needs to take it in those little tiny bits.
Kathi: Yep, absolutely. Just love it.
Okay, low level membership. What do you mean by low level membership?
Cheri: I mean something in my mind, that’s going to be a low key – I probably should have said low cost membership. And so like, I’m starting up a brand new Facebook, brand new membership, that is going to include a Facebook group among a few other things, and it’s going to be under $10 a month. I’m not going to be there very much. What they’re going to be actually paying for is the ability to hang out with a curated group of other highly sensitive Christian women who are all abiding by the same guidelines and who’ve all said yes, I am of a growth mindset, and I’m here to learn. It’s not a support group, because Cheri Gregory doesn’t lead support groups.
Kathi: And no whining.
Cheri: No whining. I facilitate learning communities, but I won’t be there very often.
Kathi: Okay, so now I want to talk about Facebook groups. So you and I both run Facebook groups that are for a fee. And okay, so I have my free group, clutter free Academy; and then I have my fee group, which is Clutter Free for Life, and you have Sensitive and Strong. And so – do you have another group that is free?
Cheri: I don’t have a free group, because for my people, free doesn’t work.
Kathi: Okay, explain that.
Cheri: I tried it. And the kind of – how do I say this delicately – the kind of highly sensitive persons who flocked to a free group, Many of them should have flocked to professional support. And without a fee, I couldn’t afford to pay somebody to monitor a healthy place. And so that’s the reason I’m starting a low fee group. Like I said, it’s under $10. But that’s why I can pay somebody to make sure that everybody plays nice and is learning and is growing. And if somebody needs help, and you know, sends out signals that they need help, we can catch it immediately and help them get the help they need, but not impact the group culture.
Kathi: So what what do they get for that fee group, that $10?
Cheri: They’re going to get conversational starters, they’re going to get the monitored ability to interact with each other – which for HSPs, we rarely can identify another HSP so more of that community with each other is huge. And then I will be doing probably one Q&A a month. But it won’t be about me, it will be about them hanging out with each other in a very safe, monitored curated – because that that low level fee will curate who chooses to join.
Kathi: Yeah, that’s wonderful. And yes, in our fee group, there’s a lot less drama than anyplace else I am. So in clutter free for life, which you can get, if you sign up for the annual membership for a little over $10 a month, maybe it’s like $11 or $12. So we have two Facebook Lives a month. Usually with me every once a while, like this month, I’m on sabbatical so we had, we had a couple of other members, including Tonya, do it. And then we have a packet. And it was really interesting. We did a survey this year about the packet. And we were making, we were spending a lot of money and a lot of time on that packet. And they were basically telling us we don’t need all that. And so we still do the packet, but it’s simpler, i’s a little more streamlined. And so just understanding what they really, really need. And then we have moderated conversations in there. And then, you know, it’s just, it’s a healthy place to hang out. And it’s so great to see it growing each year. People really, really love that.Now, I use that money to pay somebody – Tonya’s in there to moderate and do all the things, but it’s such a joy to be there. They’re my favorite group of people. So that’s been really, really fun.
Okay, so I’m excited about our conversation next week as well, because we’re going to be talking about – we’ve talked about free and going from free to fee; and then there’s from free to fee to fee plus me. And so this is really interesting to me. I love that we’re going on the this side of the conversation. And because guys, we want you to put some money in your pocket, so that you can continue your ministry, this is really important to us. So in order to do that, we have a couple of resources, go to our show notes and download Cheri’s Planning Guide for going from free to fee.
And then also, we want you to check out – we’re so excited to be starting this. It’s a four week group coaching program, where we’re going to walk you through how to take your business from free to fee. I feel like this is such a valuable investment for people who have been struggling with making this turn. Or maybe you’re charging for some things, but you’re not charging for enough; so we want to be able to help you talk that through. So join us next week for Free to Fee to Fee Plus Me. It’s going to be amazing. Sherry, thank you so much for being on the Writing at the Red House podcast.
Cheri: Thanks so much for having me, Kathy.
Kathi: And you guys, thank you! You’ve been listening to the Writing at the Red House podcast. Now go share your story of God’s extravagant love.