I often volunteer my time helping people through quick emails -- but I really can't afford the time to talk to someone. Otherwise, I'd be volunteering full-time.
In general, I feel a bit uncomfortable asking people to pay for my advice. I'm not really an industry expert, I'm more of a learn-by-trial and error hacker designer. I started out running a handmade card business for fifteen years and then transitioned into licensing. Nowhere in my college were either of these courses offered (joke), so I had to learn on my own.
Awhile back, someone made me a funny offer. They said they'd give me an Amazon gift card, if I would just chat with them on the phone for 30 minutes.
This request made me laugh out loud (since I'm a big Amazon fan), so I agreed just for the heck of it, and with that gift card I bought art books. This experience felt like a gift exchange, and I found it refreshing.
A week later, another artist contacted me, wanting to pay for a consultation. Normally I would have referred her to a professional gift industry consultant, but since her greeting card business obstacles seemed easy to resolve in a conversation, I suggested we try another "Amazon Barter".
I didn't put a fee on my time. I let her decide what my advice was worth to her, and then she could apply it to an Amazon gift card. With her generous gift, I was able to buy $100 worth of yoga equipment, books and a DVD.
Now every time I do yoga, I think of Sara at Paper Loop http://www.paper-loop.com/
Both of these experiences were a fulfilling exchange, especially since I don't feel any pressure to perform as an "industry expert". I can just say what I think, based on my own business experience in the card industry.
If giving greeting card advice helps me do more yoga and art, well... HEY, I'm all for that!
Posted by Kate Harper at 6/18/2013