The PWYW Pay What You Want Pricing Model

“I wonder if you would be able to share your experience with me regarding the PWYW pricing model. I am looking into the PWYW or Pay-it-forward models as I would love to experiment with this approach. I feel it would truly highlight the values encompassed in the events – connection, collaboration, inclusive, make-the-world-a-better-place, sharing and giving overselling. May I ask, how have you found this pricing method and what have you learnt? I guess I’m also curious to know why, as a society, we are so focused on offering fixed prices when there are other options available.”


The key to making PWYW work for you is 100% abundance. If you are going to be disappointed by someone paying you $1 or a tenner, then it doesn’t work. So that means, for me, that while I want to turn my whole business model over to Pay What You Want in the end, I cannot yet afford to do it.

Here’s how I describe Pay What You Want on my website.  

Notice that you have to guide people that acceptable amounts are between X and Y. Last week two people paid me £30 each and this week two have paid £60 each so it varies a lot. And I discovered when offering an ebook for sale a few years back on this PWYW basis that typically people would pay £6 for a book which I might have been tempted to offer for £2.99 or £3.99 on Amazon. Some even paid up to £20 for it.

So again it enables people to pay you in their financial reality and also it facilitates me being able to work with people who might not otherwise choose to afford my going rate of £150 an hour or even my two coaching groups where my fees are £750 and £1500 for a year in advance. So it’s inclusive and it is a useful way of experimenting with your own worth and value and comparing that to what other people will pay.

I have one client who regularly pays £250 and indeed most people pay three figures, not two.

I’ve been doing that for 3 years and recently shared some stats as follows on my Facebook Page:

In case you can’t see that, here’s what it says…

…30th September is my year end and I don’t know why it occurred to me today to look at what my PWYW (Pay What You Want) income has been worth to me for the year ended 30.9.2017. I introduced this back in September 2014 so that’s three years ago and people are really getting the hang of it now. Some interesting stats:

  • I’ve done 45 sessions spread across 23 clients in this last year
  • The lowest donation was £35 and the highest £150
  • More people pay three figures than two
  • 5 were returners from Small Business Big Magic bagging a top-up, ditto 2 returners from Club 100 and two longtime 1-2-1 clients
  • 6 were ad hocs, I’m not sure if I will ever hear from them again in this way but I know who they are and I consider that I have business relationships (mostly via FB) with all of them bar one
  • 7 were what I would term “regulars” i.e. they’ve booked 6-10 sessions on this basis, the flexibility suits them or it is the most appropriate offer I have for them right now
  • 1 went on to become a client of Club 100 so was effectively trying me out in this way and it is hoped that at least one more will follow suit in her own time

It is a useful way for me to be working with those who do not necessarily want to be in a group though they may have enjoyed that historically or look forward to it in the future.


Is there a way your business could benefit from a lovely little income top-up and help your clients too using the principles of Pay What You Want?

I love the idea that one day ALL my business will be run on these principles and it is interesting to note that if you give people the choice they often pay you more than you might have charged. People are generally very abundant and generous but equally, PWYW allows me to help those who are hard up and cannot afford my going rate. Win/win to my eyes.

Have you been meaning to book yourself in for one? Diary open now for October and November, offline in December (hols).

If you have costs attached to your offers/events, then you might want to share those so that people know their donations should be that figure plus their discretionary PWYW donation on top. Explain why.

Note: I have been at this for three years. Most don’t yet understand PWYW so you have to explain it very well and keep offering things on that basis until it catches on in your world. Now, new clients get always get their first one free on me, and then they select or I guide them towards PWYW if that suits them best. In 2017 they say things like “I will book one a month on this basis”. That would not have happened 3 years ago. You must give people a chance to adapt to Pay What You Want and almost everything else too, for that matter!

Your Biz Your Way

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4 Responses to “The PWYW Pay What You Want Pricing Model”

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  1. We are on the same page Gale!

  2. I agree with all you say. Can fill you in on further thoughts/details when we speak. I have the same potential issue but find that it does not become one because you can take steps to ensure that nothing is devalued, different offers for different purposes/people. Let’s get our heads together on the program. Fab idea!

  3. Sarah Arrow says:

    Thanks for sharing Judith. I’m happy to give 100% for just £1. But what I need to be careful of is devaluing my 1-2-1 client offers. I’m going to try it on my new site, and this is also a great way to deal with the “pick your brains” people. I know I mentioned to you yesterday, I will diary permitting, book in a session to gain your insights in how it will work for me. A PWYW training program? 😀

  4. Gale Bates says:

    I love this model, Judith. I am a full believer in the law of abundance. Thanks for explaining it fully.