So I “launched” this program on Monday, Your Big, Bold, Creative Life Academy, a six-month course that I’ve been pouring my heart and soul into creating for over a year now.
The women who registered were exactly the kind of people I was hoping to attract: enthusiastic, ready, open-hearted. Carrying fear and self-doubt on their shoulders, sure, but really ready to see those gremlins for what they are and to learn to tame them.
This was good.
Yet I had a nagging feeling that there were women out there in the shadows who were just as enthusiastic, ready, and open-hearted, who would sign up in a heartbeat if money weren’t tight, but who weren’t signing up, because money IS tight.
And here’s the thing: I created Your Big, Bold, Creative Life Academy with a vision of a thriving community of women walking side-by-side and supporting each other as they (we!) all get bigger, bolder, and more creative, and change our lives for the better. So I want all women who are ready to be in this program!
I also put over a year of work into creating this program with a vision that it would financially support my doing my work in the world. This is a business I’m running, after all, not a charity. It’s how I pay my bills.
And yet I wanted to make a way to open the door for the women who were not signing up purely because of cash limitations. And I wanted to do that without just giving it away, because not only would that not be a self-compassionate way to treat myself, but in my experience, people who get a free ride rarely really invest themselves in that ride. And I want women in this program who are invested.
So I came up with the idea of a “Pay What You Can” scholarship.
I sent a letter to my subscribers asking for applications, with the following:
Here’s how it works:
If you know you want to join me in the Academy, and the only thing really holding you back is money, write me a letter right now, telling me what you would contribute to the program, and what you truly can afford to pay.
I don’t want the heartbreak story. If you’re asking for a scholarship I already know money is tight for you.
I want to know what you are going to bring to the Academy.
How are you going to contribute to the community, and/or to the larger mission of getting women (including yourself!) creating and sharing their creations?
- Maybe it’s an enthusiasm for social media, and a commitment to tweet out every “golden nugget” you hear in our live calls together.
- Maybe you’ve got some tech/clerical skills, and you’ll transcribe the live calls, or edit audio/video.
- Maybe you love moderating forums, and will enthusiastically take on the role of making sure nobody’s forum post gets left unanswered.
- Maybe it’s simply a commitment to bring your full self to the table and keep your Big Goals always front-of-mind.
These are just a few examples. It doesn’t have to be ANY of those things (though I do hope everyone brings that last one!) — I want to know what rings beautifully, authentically true for YOU. What does your heart of hearts say a big “YES!” to?
Then be sure to include your requested payment amount and schedule — what you truly can afford, on deep reflection and realistic acknowledgment of your circumstances.
I truly don’t care how much it is (and if you need to spread the payments out, that’s totally fine — I’m flexible). I just care that you’ve put some thought into it.
If it’s $274, fine. If it’s $25/month for 6 months, fine. If it’s $100 total, fine. If it’s $333, fine. If it’s $5 now, and $35 a month from now, and another $75 the month after that, fine.
Seriously! Just tell me what you can afford. YOU know what you can afford.
So, to summarize, to apply for a “Pay What You Can” Scholarship, to Your Big, Bold, Creative Life Academy, send me an email with two things:
- What you are going to bring to the Academy (not your sob story!)
- What you can (truly) afford to pay
A magical thing happened. Letters started trickling in. Wonderful letters, from bright, vibrant, enthusiastic, ready women.
Women who followed the instructions (NO sob stories!), who offered their skills, offered their enthusiasm, and offered payments ranging from $5/month to darn near close to the full price of the program. Many filled with humble apologies for being able to contribute so little financially, when they knew Your Big, Bold, Creative Life Academy was more than worth the “real” price.
With a full heart I welcomed each and every one of them into the Academy.
And from their letters I knew I had to send another note to my list…
Once more I had a nagging feeling. My intuition was telling me that women were still holding back, ashamed to offer so much less than full price, silenced by gremlins that say things like:
“Oh, you don’t deserve this!”
“Oh, you don’t have anything to offer!”
“What on earth do YOU have to bring to the Academy, you loser???”
“How can you even THINK of offering such a measly amount for Melissa’s amazing program? For shame!”
It put me in mind of a “Name Your Price” offer I was tempted by a couple of years ago… but was embarrassed by how little I felt able to “bid.” So I passed. Only to find out the following week that many people had “bid” much less than I would have!
My “for shame!” gremlins made me lose out, big time, and I didn’t want that to happen to the women who were being called to Your Big, Bold, Creative Life Academy!
So I wrote another letter with a sample script to use with such gremlins:
“Hmm… Maybe you’re right, gremlin, but you know, that’s really not a nice way to talk to someone you care about. I know you really care about me, I know you’re just concerned and trying to protect me from getting hurt, but that kind of mean language really doesn’t help.
What are you really afraid of? If you can talk to me in a way that’s useful, I’ll be happy to listen. Otherwise, you’ll need to leave the room, thank you very much. I only listen to people who treat me with respect and care.”
(It can help at this point to give your gremlin a cookie. Mine are especially fond of lady fingers.)
More letters poured in. The community grew. The aura around this virtual space practically sparked with energy!
And here’s the thing: despite what all those “for shame!” gremlins want us to believe, this “Pay What You Can” scholarship is enriching all of the women involved:
- The community of the Academy is growing, becoming more vibrant with the unique spirit each women is bringing to the mix
- The financial contributions — no matter how small — are bringing me income I wouldn’t have gotten otherwise.
Plus there’s this:
- I believe that somehow, the very fact that this “Pay What You Can” scholarship exists is shifting something, however tiny, inside the hearts and minds of those involved.
It’s a pebble tossed into a pond, rippling outward and outward. And you just never know where those ripples may lead.
This is gonna be amazing.
PS — Pssst! Know someone who might benefit from seeing this today? Pass it on!