I’ve encouraged people to take up garden coaching and – yay! – they’ve responded. My Worldwide Directory of Gardening Coaches now lists 23 coaches. But before you quit the day job, here’s a reality check.
It’s hard enough for anyone to make a living in the gardening field generally but at least landscape architects and really successful designers get hired for BIG jobs, usually for a cut of the whole project. (And someone correct me if they’re paid a flat fee.) But coaches are hired on an hourly basis – and for very few hours, at that – so it’s not like a lifetime of Freudian analysis. Most of my clients need one or two hours and I never hear from them again. If I reminded them of my gardening brilliance regularly, as my friends suggest, it might result in more call-backs but really, most of them are on their way and don’t need regular visits.
So even at my recently increased fee of $75 an hour, how much money can there possibly be in it? Remember that the appointments have to be when the client is home on the weekends, and naturally during the gardening season. And the kiss of death to career aspirations? While the universe of people who need it is HUGE, the people who know such a service exists, seek it out and make it happen is tiny, tiny, tiny, even with all the recent publicity.
Despite the pitiful financial returns, here’s why it’s still a good idea for some people:
- The need is there and it’s really fun to help people in this way. Plus, the folks who hire garden coaches are a damn nice bunch.
- Gardenwriters can use coaching to learn a lot and beef up their resumes, while earning some extra cash.
- Landscape architects and designers can add coaching as one of the services they offer.
- Retirees and Master Gardeners? Go for it!
But if you were thinking that coaching would ever pay your mortgage, sorry about bursting that bubble.
IS IT TOO LATE TO COACH SOMETHING ELSE?
Just the other day a DVD arrived from CBS of the personal coaching segment on "Sunday Morning" and I was surprised to see that the wardrobe or "image" consultant featured in the segment is someone I actually know – cool! Then I listened and heard Rita Braver say that this other kind of coach charges $250 an hour. Crikey! Where does she find clients who can pay that kind of money? I’m afraid the answer is that she’s rich and probably knows most of the rich people in D.C. (Her brother is Dan Glickman and their family seems to have made a fortune in scrap metal.) So that $250 fee is another case of the rich getting richer, I’m afraid.