I’ve been offering pay-what-you-wish massage and bodywork off and on for specific modalities since 2011. This summer I offered pay-what-you-wish for all my services at The Well during July and August.
It’s worked out well. I have had more people coming in to be worked on, new people (often via word of mouth but some from Yelp) are coming in, and I am making ends meet, thanks to the generosity of my clients. It’s satisfying.
I am going to continue to offer it indefinitely.
Sometimes people are uncomfortable with this concept of pay-what-you-wish, so here’s some of my thinking behind it, and I hope it will help you feel more comfortable deciding how much to pay for my services.
First of all, by offering pay-what-you-wish massage, it is not my intent to offer “cheap massage”. I work hard to improve my skills. I do a lot of training, taking classes and workshops, reading, watching videos, and practicing with/on other massage therapists — way, way beyond what Texas law requires to maintain a license. Who knows? At some point in the future, I may be only offering some elite modality and charging top dollar. I’m not there yet. I’m having a good time practicing and improving my skills.
Secondly, I want my practice to be full, thriving, and interesting. If I hold out for top dollar, I will not be working as much. Since I learn so much from doing, making massage affordable is good for getting more people on my table more often. The more I work, the better I get.
Thirdly, making a lot of money is not my top priority. I like having money for what it can do for me, and my expenses and obligations are modest. I’m sharing this here because some readers may not know that there are real, regular people whose lives and decisions are not driven by the need to make as much money as possible by working at a job that is stressful. I too have had a mortgage, a child at home, a lot of debt, and stressful jobs. Not any more. My work now is driven by my desire to be of service and to take care of myself at the same time.
Fourthly, in the so-called olden days, healers of all kinds – herbalists, hands-on healers, shamans, etc. – received support from their communities in exchange for their services. Entire villages could exist without money being exchanged because they traded and bartered and did what they could to help the whole village thrive. If someone was poor and needed healing, the healers didn’t turn them away. If they could only pay with food or labor or kind deeds that benefited others in the community, that was acceptable. Importantly, there would always be an exchange (because everyone has something to offer, and it’s crucial to recognize that), and if times were hard for the community, times were hard for the healers too. Now we live in bigger communities in a society that uses money for most of its trade, but it’s still about reciprocity.
Fifthly, if it’s not sustainable, it ends. I’ll learn another livelihood or change the way I do business. This is what I want to offer now, and so far I feel good about every single one of my pay-what-you-wish sessions and what I was offered in payment.
Here are some guidelines about how much to pay:
- If you can afford full price, I gratefully accept. My full-price rate is $75 for an hour, and it is customary to add a gratuity, which at 20% adds up to $90. For ninety minutes, full price of $105 plus 20% adds up to $129. (Twenty percent is what I customarily tip for all but truly terrible service. Your mileage may vary. It’s up to you.)
- If you are totally flush with money, and you totally loved your session, you can pay more.
- If that is beyond your means at this time, here’s something to consider. As of late August 2014, two major massage chains in Austin offer a 50-60 minute massage for $44-49 at the introductory rate or with a package, $52 regular rate, $60 per month with a membership. Adding a 20% gratuity puts these massages in the range of $53 to $72. Scale up or down for 90 and 30 minute sessions. (By the way, the therapists there receive way less than half of what you pay.) If these prices are what you can afford, please consider booking an appointment with me. You are not just a slot to fill, either. I care about your well-being.
- If this is still beyond your means, talk to me. Incomes can fluctuate considerably. Maybe you’re pursuing work you love, but the income isn’t there yet. Maybe you’re just not driven to earn a lot. Maybe you’ve had some misfortune. Maybe you feel stuck. Meanwhile, you may have been injured or in pain or stressed about your situation. I want to help you out, get you back on your feet, relieve your stress, change your energy. Massage works. Just ask.
- I am willing to trade or barter for services I need. Electrical work? Sign painting? Car detailing? Housekeeping? Gardening? Hauling? Delicious meals? Ask.
A little more about me and how I work. I offer separate modalities that can be combined. If you want to design your massage session, I actually love that. I offer 30, 60, and 90 minute sessions on my online booking site. You can get 30 minutes of Ashiatsu on your back and 30 minutes of detailed manual neck work in the same session, however you want to mix it up.
I have been told I have a really good touch and that I have good energy. (Blushing.) I am open to your feedback. I want you to feel comfortable on my table. Sometimes the bodywork simply cannot be effective without some discomfort, especially trigger point and TMJ work. Any pain I cause is so that you’ll feel less pain after the session. I try to cause the least amount of pain possible. You can tell me to stop, and I will stop. You are the authority on what you can tolerate.
My schedule varies. I am open for long hours on Wednesday and Thursday, some Fridays, some Saturday mornings, and occasionally on Sunday afternoon. I keep my online booking calendar updated, so you can easily see when I’m available.
If it’s an emergency (like whiplash), call me. I may be able to squeeze you in or refer you to a therapist friend who’s available. 512-507-4184.