Do you need to be, um, a little richer?
Years ago, my friend-I've-never-met Eolake Stobblehouse (of "Joyful Nudes" fame, or infamy, depending on your perspective) sent me a present. It was a book by a fellow called Stuart Wilde titled The Trick to Money Is Having Some!
Right, the exclamation point is part of the title.
It's a personal-financial self-help book that outlines an inspirational, semi-spiritual approach to encouraging the Universe to pour a little more money into your outstretched, cupped hands. My first response was to react with my usual analytical rationalist-materialist scepticism, and reject the whole idea, swiftly: not my cup of tea, not going to read this, thank you anyway.
Because it's easy to see the book as being a bit...obtuse; addled; New Agey...not entirely logical, is what I'm trying to say. Goofy, if I were to put it bluntly. I mean, it's right there in the title: the trick to money is having some? To which I probably actually said out loud, "Um, what?"
But Eolake told me that ever since he read the book, he's been getting richer and richer.
So I thought well, what the hell, I need money, and why should I think I'm so smart? If I were smart, I wouldn't be worrying about money all the time. Maybe I should be more open to the idea that other people might know things I don't, and that their opinion is as valid as mine. What did I have to lose? A few hours' reading time.
So I read the book. The whole thing.
...And it instantly had an effect on my bank account. Because, specifically following the book's advice, I gritted my teeth and stuck what I thought were some ridiculously, absurdly high prices on some services I'd been offering. And almost instantaneously, those services started selling for those ridiculously high prices. Customers materialized out of nowhere. And commenced mailing me checks.
It was like money appeared out of air.
And you know what? I swear this is literally true: I have been getting richer and richer ever since. Ever since the day I finished that darned book. The money started to flow right at that point and it hasn't ever stopped. Hell, I should probably read it again.
I thought of this recently because I tried to buy a service from a certain electronics expert who happens to live in Montana, and he said no, sorry, I'm no longer adding people to my job queue, because I've got a four-year waiting list.
To which I responded, mouth hanging open: Four years?!? Dude, you gotta raise your prices!
To which he responded: I can't raise my prices! I'll never get any work!
There's a lot of money in the world, but that guy doesn't think he should have some. He ought to read Eolake's goofy book, is all I can say.
(Thanks to Eolake. And by the way, here's Eolake's blog.)
"Open Mike" is a series of off-topic posts that appear on TOP on Sundays.
UPDATE the following day: Twenty-nine people ordered that book yesterday, to whom I say: a) sorry, as I have never been less confident of any book recommendation I've made; and b) I sincerely wish increased prosperity to all 29 of you. May mo' money indeed flow your way. You deserve it! —Mike
Original contents copyright 2013 by Michael C. Johnston and/or the bylined author. All Rights Reserved. Links in this post may be to our affiliates; sales through affiliate links may benefit this site.
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Featured Comments from:
Cliff: "Sounds like an interesting read; I shall read it with an appropriate level of scepticism. Increasing prices for services has certainly worked for me in my profession as a financial broker. I had previously balked at increasing broker fees, worried that I would lose business, but when I made the plunge to increase my fees, illogically I have more clients, greater income per client, and the biggest surprise is the increased quality of clients. I've found that the clients who are willing to pay, appreciate your services and time, and this has increased the enjoyment of my work."
Steve Caddy: "About three or four years ago, I decided to stop waiting to get myself one of those little Leica rangefinders and see what the mystique was all about. Your 'Leica as a Teacher' article might have been a factor, Mike.
"I'd seen people making and giving away PDF templates for pinhole cameras that could be dressed up as various things and suddenly had the quite humorous (to me) idea of making a pinhole Leica M.
"The more I thought about it, the more perfect it seemed. I could make it almost exactly to scale. The box would be very simple to print because of the shape of the M, and Leica's typically German habit of showing the product flat-on from each angle made the artwork easy to, uhh...'come up with.' Their perchant for playing up the simplicity of the system (and charging for it) was perfect for extending from: the pinhole version would eschew not only batteries and light meters, but the shutter itself, and cost far more than the average pinhole camera of similar function.
"So, what to charge for a piece of die-cut card and a paper clip? It had to be enough to make it a sure bet, and if things went well I wasn't sure how long I'd have before Leica cottoned on and asked me to, y'know, cease and disist. Ten dollars seemed borderline reasonable, so I set the price at $19.99 figuring I could revise it down later.
"It didn't take long before people ran with the idea—mostly via Twitter, and then later on Wired and other blogs. The price was always contentious (who would pay $20 for a piece of card when you can make your own so easily?), but some people genuinely loved it. I had several repeat customers, mostly collectors who would buy one for themselves and others as novelty gifts for friends. Twenty dollars of personally apt novelty value is comparatively cheap. One lady ordered 200 units (at half price) for conference-show bag-fillers. Quite a few people emailed to accuse me of ripping people off at that price, and out of several hundred 'cameras' sold, I think only two or three people asked for refunds—which I was happy to give.
"In the end I lasted nearly six months before I got the inevitable C&D letter. I complied and replied to LCAG's legal representative admitting guilt and offering that I was, at least, infringing on their logo (with a minor tweak: I'd marketed the box as being 'Likea Camera') to fund the purchase of their product. They never replied, but I did manage enough revenue to buy a used M6 and 35mm Summicron.
"But the point is that value is relative. You just have to know who your work is valuable to (in my case, people who got the joke and want to pass it on, not people who wanted a pinhole camera)."
Phil Maus: "Well Mike I have to agree with you on the goofy book about money. In fact, I just bought my copy through your link and sure enough, you just got a little richer!"
Dave Fultz: "Bought the book. Read it. A rather bizarre mix of Taoism, Zen, Hinduism, and EST, with a massive dose of Norman Vincent Peale thrown in. Some of his suggestions I find disturbing if not unethical for their manipulation of others. But, there is no doubt that he does encourage you to rethink how you're viewing the business of making money, and he does, with humor, encourage you to be more forthright in your view of your work's worth to others. Fun...and cheap enough to have been a good buy. (And, of course, delighted to hear that it had good effects for Mike, Eolake, and others.)"
Ailsa: "Years ago, someone from Kodak told me the story of a wedding and portrait photographer who decided he didn't want to shoot weddings any more, so he doubled his prices. (This was the mid-1990s, and I think the increase meant his cheapest wedding package increased to £1,500). Within weeks, he was booked for the year. The next year, he doubled them again—and the same thing happened. He ended up trapped in an eternal circle of making money at something he didn't want to do!"