Post by ottawagardener on Feb 8, 2014 11:32:31 GMT -5
So I used to hold a lot of free quality workshops for COG, for enthusiasts and at our place. They were irregularly attended: sometimes big groups, sometimes less especially on farm. Part of the issue was determined to be that people often don't value what they don't pay for as bizarre as that sounds. I also offer my services and get some paid gigs off farm that are well attended. This year I decided to start charging a modest fee and have minimum registration for on farm events as it takes time and effort to come up with exciting curriculum. However, I find that more and more workshops are held for free either by not for profits, as sales related freebies or because communities enjoy helping each other. Awesome! As an urban gardener, I was always enthusiastic about sharing so I totally get that. Often when I do workshops for organizations I am paid just not by the individuals attending but instead by the association: usually just the standard travel expenses. My conundrum is should I give up on for-pay workshops on farm or should I change my model? Also, I currently still do a lot of totally volunteer work that is of course unpaid so I am uncertain if I want to add to that when I could be developing on farm infrastructure.
Just wanted other people's thoughts on this subject.
I agree about the value of voluntarily sharing knowledge, but I'm sure issues of potential liability for visitors on your property have you paying for insurance, so a fee (maybe on a sliding scale) seems more than fair, as does the idea that those who benefit from your facilities and expertise should contribute to its maintenance and improvement, even if only minimally.
"Yesterday is history; tomorrow is mystery; today is a gift, that's why it's called the present." E. Roosevelt "If the world is to end tomorrow, I would plant an apple tree today" Martin Luther
Yes the issue of potential liability for visitors while on your property is an interesting one,i know that in this country a sign saying when entering "enter this property at your own risk" means the property owner is not liable if one harms themselves.
In addition to whatever information that you are offering, your time is valuable. Why would you give it away without expectation of something in trade? Once you start giving people things for free, they grow to expect it and, as you noted, discount the value of what they have received. At the very least, set a price and then give away free entry coupons so that people recognize that there is a monetary value to what you are giving to them. Better yet, charge a price and give away a coupon for equal value for your services & plants. Some will take up the offer and some won't, but you are building a clientele. Make sure that anyone that you give free services to has materials and information and a bit of motivation to help promote your business and future sessions. If not-for-profits want to offer competing sessions, don't get in a race to the bottom with them; instead, offer to do sessions for them for a modest fee. They can pay you and give your work away for free. If there are so many people willing to do sessions for free that there is no money to be made, then you have to look to different markets.
By all means, look for ways to share your knowledge with people who can't afford to pay you for it, but don't make not getting paid your business model. Almost everybody who has started a business has tried that one and I can tell you based on much experience that it doesn't work.
When you give people free stuff, promote and advertise shamelessly and enthusiastically. No matter what, get names and addresses and put those freeloaders on your mailing list.
Growing where temperate rainforest meets the sea (WA coast): Jan avg low temp ~34*F, Aug avg high temp ~69*F, ~111 annual inches of rain, but only about 15 inches May-Sep, salt air, lots of wind.
Post by flowerweaver on Feb 8, 2014 13:29:20 GMT -5
A group of us held free monthly workshops at the garden club building for two years to teach our community how to organic garden, raise chickens, and keep bees. They were well attended. Our community is economically disadvantaged so we wanted them to be free. We also didn't like how the 'Master Gardener' program run by the extension pushed heavy chemical use, commercialized seeds, and cost an arm and a leg. We wanted to offer an alternative.
If I gave similar workshops here, as I have thought about doing, I would charge a small or sliding scale fee. I have given botanical tours of native plants here because that's been my profession. I have given free tours for high school biology classes and native plant societies; charged moderately for nature festivals; and a received a handsome sum from profitable organizations. I figure this is fair.
Drip irrigated gardening in the arid southwest on a beautiful pile of alluvial rocks where the hill country meets the desert. It's a food desert, too: a 3 hour round trip to the grocery store.
I've mulled this sort of thing a lot. At this time, I don't think it works for me where I farm; nobody's going to pay for lessons (if only because ranching is all they've known); it's a very economically depressed area, hardly even any minimum-wage jobs. I think what I'm looking at is paying minimum wages for labor and teaching my help useful practices and potential garden crops (not going to be field crops; not enough water, too much wildlife). I suppose I'll have a beneficial effect on the larger community, but it sure won't be any overnight success.
Oh, well, what else have I got to do, go on cruise-boats and play bridge?
Post by mountaindweller on Mar 5, 2014 20:11:52 GMT -5
Stay somewhere in the middle. If you need the money, sure you charge but make it cheap enough. Look what others are charging for their courses (you must press the reservation button to know the fees). I wanted to go to a course once but when I saw the fees I was clearly put off: www.milkwoodpermaculture.com.au/courses
Post by prairiegarden on Nov 4, 2016 6:25:05 GMT -5
Some people offer workshops for which they charge a significant amount but provide food and a place to camp; then under the guise of teaching, although there is that element as well, get the participants put in hours of digging planting etc. That has always struck me as a Tom Saywer trick, good stuff if you can get away with it. Some of these people get return clients so they must provide value; lots of times things like campfires and music are mentioned in later (happy) comments. That's probably not what you had in mind but I've had a twinge of envy when the presenter talks about getting three hundred feet of swale dug and 200 trees and other things planted....and got well paid to have other people do it.
i suspect you have to have a certain sort of personality for this to work, I'd never get away with it, possibly because I don't really understand why anyone would pay to do such work. They do, though. maybe it taps into the feeling of wanting to be part of a special community or something.