Last summer I read Tara Joyce's book "Pay What It's Worth". Both the author and the book were charming. I was enchanted by the idea. When I tried it, I experienced the feeling Tara describes - that business is a tool of sharing love.
I’m a motorcyclist and a lot of my friends are, too. While I’m a natural born traveler, they mostly love racing. For me, the idea of competing is something completely not understandable. I wouldn't enjoy taking part in an activity in which the price of joy for the winner is the pain of loss for all the others. But when my beloved friends compete, I support them with all my heart, and other body parts too (hands, brain, and so on). For me, the most beautiful part of motorsport is the fact that a racer needs a support team and the final result is the effect of the work of the whole pit crew.
Being with my biker friends at the track many times during the season, I also take pictures - photography has been my passion since I was 7. And here started my PWYW adventure. Last year, at the training sessions and races, I took a lot of photos of all the participants and after the event I announced on the organizer's page or FB group that whoever wanted pictures could contact me. The info was followed by a set of example photos which played the role of appetizer.
In the era of Instagram, posting pictures on the web for everyone to see is quite an obvious thing to do, so I explained to everyone who answered that photography is what I do for living and it takes money to get to the racetrack from my distant city and to upgrade my camera from time to time; it also takes time to find the photos of a specific rider among the thousands that I took. "I support riders by taking pictures", I wrote, "so I would appreciate it if they reciprocate by supporting my next month’s bills ;-)". I also assured them that they weren’t obliged to pay, especially if they didn’t like the pictures.
For all of them, it was their first contact with the idea of the price being set by the customer, and the reactions were quite varied. One of them complained to a common friend, who later passed the word on to me: "Why does she burden me with the weight of decision? I’d prefer it if she just told me how much I should pay." :-) Well, being decisive means taking responsibility, which is maybe the most tiring of all efforts. Only a few of them didn’t contact me again; most accepted the deal and got the pictures and my bank account number. I got many thanks and good words about my work in return and when transfers came, they were usually 150-200% of what I would have asked if I had set the price myself. WOW, I thought, it seems I’m a woman who knows how to satisfy many guys ;-)
Tara writes that not every kind of service is suitable for the Pay What It's Worth system, but mine fulfills all the criteria: it’s small, exclusive, intimate, loyalty building and personal. For most passionate bikers there’s nothing more personal and intimate than their relationship with their beloved machine. :-)
But what was most important, I guess, was the personal contact between both sides of the exchange. If I put all my pics onto the web with the info "you can pay if you want", I'm sure half the people wouldn't have noticed this description, and the rest would have considered it strange. But when, after a short email exchange, I became a person to them and explained my reasons, their generosity exceeded my expectations.
I think that this is also the key to success in PWYW book publishing (which I also do). Technically this kind of contact between author and readers isn’t possible, but there are other ways to become a person with a face for our audience. Writing a SM profile, creating a YT channel with personal recordings, and most of all keeping a blog, like this one, are some of them :-)