I honestly don’t know and I’m struggling with that.
Where is this coming from?
The conversation came about recently in relation to determining what our day rate would be if XPG4 were load organizing at a boogie. First, it never crossed my mind that I’d be on a team that would be sought out as LOs for an event. (I’m still tickled by this!) Second, I never dreamed that I would have a day rate for skydiving (Example: Last fall, I nearly fell over the first time a boogie organizer asked me what my day rate was. Me?? A day rate?) Long and short, I’m constantly feeling like a doofus when I say “Uh.. that thought never even crossed my mind; I’m still just thrilled and surprised to be here.”
Eventually, the conversation meandered to other events I organize and whether I should charge for them. Right now, I don’t charge for coaching. I do 1on1 coaching to get belly flyers to the point that they are safe and comfortable flying 4way in our 12-foot octagon hellish-shit-tastic tunnel. (It is truly a challenge to fly 4way belly in it, especially for noobs.) For the 4way events I organize, I don’t charge (however, full-disclosure, my slot is covered which I believe is fair, considering I put in hours of work planning and organizing each event). I certainly happily accept tips for coaching to fund my gas money to and from the tunnel but I don’t charge. However, the recommendation is that I should.
I’m torn; I want to do free coaching because I was fortunate enough to have had talented people coach me for free when I was starting out. I want to pay it forward. However, I’m a huge advocate for myself in my professional life, not hesitating to hop jobs if I don’t feel like a company isn’t paying me enough or valuing my time or skills. Why can’t I do that in skydiving?
Colorado also struggles with a supply-demand issue
There’s quite frankly just not that much demand for belly flying. In the past few years, it’s been growing because I’ve been planting seeds, watering them, pulling sprouts out of the ground despite their reluctance. I think people from DZs with a big belly focus may forget what non-mecca locations are like. At the non-Eloys, non-Perrises, non-XPs etc. people haven’t heard of the big name coaches. They are unconcerned whether Airspeed or Rhythm won Nationals last year. There’s just not the culture around elite, competitive belly flying here in Colorado. It seems like more people are impressed by a few of my instagram videos of me flying head down in Utah than they are impressed by the fact that I’ve made it on a (what-could-be-called semi-professional, I guess) 4way team. Yes, we do have a stubborn Colorado contingent that is always up for belly jumps, but it’s not the majority here. So if the demand isn’t there, how does one charge for coaching?
Additionally, a very large amount of my skill growth has happened while I’ve been in Colorado. When I moved here at the end of 2016 with just under 200 jumps, I was just that girl with the bright jumpsuit who liked belly flying. Now, I have about 1200 jumps, 2 medals from Nationals (albeit Intermediate Class medals) and a lot of experience. However, I don’t know that peoples’ opinions of me and my abilities have changed drastically. I don’t perceive that my value has a skydiver and coach has increased in others’ eyes as much as my skills actually have. Maybe this is just a warped perception of how I believe others view me; maybe I just need to get out of my own head and say “I do not care if people recognize my worth as long as I do” followed promptly by saying “Now pay me”.
In my argument against myself, my self-advocate continues to make a few more good points. First, I spent and continue to spend a lot of money and time improving my belly skills. I deserve recognition for the work I’ve done and the information I’ve learned. Second, I just don’t have that much extra time. If someone wants some of it, in this case for coaching, then it needs to be worth it for me.
For example, this is my life:
- I’m gone 2-3 weekends a month, for team training, seeing my family, or trying to squeeze in some other non-skydiving activities like snowboarding, camping, friends’ weddings, etc. etc. When I’m gone, it’s rarely Saturday morning through Sunday evening. Often, I leave directly from work Thursday or Friday and I am often returning to my apartment at midnight on Sunday or Monday. Let’s assume 3 evenings per trip and 3 trips per month: 9 days of gone-ness a month
- When I’m in town, it’s a priority to see my favorite person (aka my boyfriend) as much as I can. I apparently didn’t consider convenience when we started dating because even though he’s in the Denver metro, his place is an hour drive from me. I try to see him 1-2 nights a week. Let’s assume 6 evenings a month
- When I am in town, I’m also putting on events at the tunnel, whether that’s 2×2 player/coach events, 4way indoor cloud league, 1×1 coaching getting people ready to fly 4way, or receiving coaching myself from Ari. Let’s assume I have 4-5 events a month of schlepping an hour (and a half sometimes) to the tunnel. Not to mention, sometimes, I freefly in the tunnel to blow off steam. Let’s say 5 evenings per month of tunnelly goodness
Total: That’s 9 + 6 + 5 = 20 nights spoken for each month where I’m generally booked up solid, not at my house at all. And that’s a conservative estimate. Around that, I’m fitting in trying to see friends and family in CO, laundry, groceries, and more. Plus work. Oh yeah, they expect me to do some work too.
So, I guess, what I’m saying is, I’m pretty busy. Everyone else is busy too, I know. But maybe, I should take that into consideration when I decide whether to charge for coaching.
Anyway, it’s a circular debate that I have with myself constantly. I really just love flying and I want other people to fall in love with formation skydiving like I have. I definitely intend to keep the cost of the indoor cloud league events at-cost. I love giving back to the community. I’m sure I’ll figure out what to do about 1×1 coaching; I’m just new to all of this. I’m floundering around in uncharted waters and as my blog readers, you get front row seats.