Why I’m making it in this economy…I think

Ever since I reconnected with a fellow self-employed massage therapist (whom I’ll refer to as Bluejay) with whom I did some Thai training with 5 years ago, I’ve been wondering why I’m able to at least “break even” with my expenses every month in this nasty financial climate while she’s drowning. Bluejay has been participating in networking groups for over 3 years, has been licensed and practicing for 17 years, works from two spaces in Manhattan, and has a more comprehensive skillset than I do. While there is nothing wrong with her approach or business model, here’s why I think mine works better these days:

I work from home. This allows me to accept last-minute appointments, and by that I mean less than an hour’s notice. I don’t think Bluejay can do anything but housecalls on less than 24 hours’ notice, while 95% of my business is arranged within 4 hours of the appointment time. What can I say, this is New York City, people have trouble planning things like this more than 30 minutes in advance. I love emails that say “my 3pm conference call just got cancelled, can I come over right now”. Of course, when that happens as a text message, it looks more like a booty call, heh.

I am willing and able to work weird hours. Some weeks, late appointments are all I get – without them I’d be sunk. Not sure why, but those clients are the most compatible with my personality. Oh, and I charge a bit more after 9pm for a number of reasons, one of which is a supply-demand thing: I’m practically the only legitimate female massage therapist in the city who works after 8pm. There’s also an element of “battle pay” in there, as well as incentive to disrupt my circadian rhythms.

I only use the kind of “energy” that involves sweat. Bluejay both looks and behaves the part of a New Age healer, and her approach is spiritual even though she actually does phenomenal deep tissue, not Reiki or anything similarly nebulous. As such, she has a larger female clientele, and women tend to see massage as a luxury rather than a necessity. And we all know what’s happening to luxuries these days. Me, I make it clear that I’m a no-nonsense smartass, which is a personality trait that has attracted a predominantly male clientele, and they’re more likely to get a massage when things hurt rather than make do with a yoga class and a hot bath.

While all of this doesn’t mitigate the drawbacks (half of my clients work in the financial sector, most of them talk to me about very personal stuff and therefore won’t send me referrals, women aren’t comfortable with a “work from home” situation), it is enough to keep my head above water.

Sidebar: I’ve had a few people (mostly clients) lately ask what I do with so much downtime, and the truth is – not much. I’ve acquired a few close-to-home hobbies in the past 7 months, blogging and shopping for free being the main ones. Unfortunately, when I mention blogging, everyone wants to read my stuff because apparently I’m quite entertaining. I’m not sure I want them to know about my weird little coupon obsession, so I’m fending most of them off. However, I failed in that today (yes, Neil, I mean you!).

6 Responses

  1. That job sounds pretty cool actually. I’d love to work from home… Or have another side job. I’m so bored LOL

  2. Yep, can’t even mention blogging if you don’t want to be outed. Several times I’ve had to dodge the question how did you know that, I just say I’m interested in personal finance. I think it’s a testament to your ability that you’ve been able to weather the recession. I prefer the no-nonsense type. No offense to blue jay but new agey types don’t appeal to me.

    • Yup, I’ve learned my lesson. None of my friends or family want to read my stuff, but strangely the only two clients I’ve mentioned blogging to really wanted to read up. I asked one for a day to think about it, figuring he’d forget, but he didn’t. Of course, now I think my content should be more high-brow. Meh.

  3. You are truly a remarkable woman. Kudos to you for keeping your head above water in this difficult economic environment. Ha ha. I love the fact that you call Reiki “nebulous”. I was stunned when I learned what it was and how much my local spa charged for it!

    • I’m not completely close-minded about Reiki – I just think that most people who practice it in the US aren’t the real deal. A weekend workshop does not a master make, you know?

      I’ve had clients ask if I do Reiki because apparently I have the right touch for it – my hands generate heat. Even clients who’ve never heard of Reiki comment on that heat. But I’d feel like a complete charlatan, it just doesn’t mesh with my personality.

      My RN-sister, Bridezilla, has a friend who went to an energy healing academy in WA for two years and now works part-time for a hospital in the cancer ward. She’d done it on a volunteer basis while building her practice, then started cutting back when business took off…but the patients were clamoring for her, so they offered her a job.

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