A month ago I posted to r/slavelabour as a hail-mary act of desperation offering dating advice for $5 an hour because I had lost my job of 4yrs with no notice (I was a nanny, the family moved unexpectedly). I was hungry, hadn't eaten in 24hrs, was 48hrs from having my electricity shut off, a week from losing my apartment, and I had 0.33 in my bank account. The post blew up in a way I did not expect and I was able to pay my electric bill and buy food the next day. I reposted a few times asking for more money each time, and the number of customers continued to increase. I started getting reviews posted about my services and I quickly reached a point where scheduling became a nightmare and I was struggling to meet the demand without an organized system in place. I made the leap to buy a domain and build a website three days ago, and I raised my prices to $20 an hour. I've been booked solid the past four days and I'm equal parts excited and terrified. Ask me anything :)
TLDR: college student accidentally became a business owner after posting on slavelabour
*edit: Thanks so much ama!!! I didn't expect it to turn into something this big but it's been an awesome experience answering your questions. I don't have time to any answer more but thanks for everything and enjoy the rest of your weekend :)
Is there a certain percentage of your clientele that you would say might be using that hour of "dating advice" as a sort of substitution for an actual date. Have you found yourself employing types of preemptive measures/ rules to prevent this kind of thing happening? Any crazy stories thus far in those regards?
I definitely have clients who hired me because they wanted to talk to a girl for an hour, but it's actually a pretty low percentage. I've also definitely had a few people who just hit on me incessantly during the session, but I turn it into a learning opportunity by calling them out on their behaviour and explaining why it doesn't work. I don't let it make me feel uncomfortable or allow the focus to change from our lesson to his attempt to make it into a date. It's been pretty effective. Humour works pretty well in those situations. When their behaviour is less innocent/more vulgar, I establish strict boundaries really quickly and I have ended a call early once before.
Crazy stories... lots of prostitution requests, lots of requests for feet stuff. Once a guy offered me $24 to see my left tit... lol it's such a specific request. Obviously, I didn't comply.
Woman to woman, do you credit any of your success to being a very attractive female? In other words, do you think an average-looking person would have the same success, whether or it they had more expertise, time or better pricing?
for sure, being an attractive female is definitely helpful when you're trying to attract a client base of men who are frustrated with online dating. I think being a female, in general, will offer an advantage, but being an attractive female will initially attract more customers I'm sure. Especially younger guys.
However, I don't think being attractive helps me to keep customers. I think that if people felt like they weren't getting good advice they would have a lot to say about it on Reddit, and I wouldn't be getting the positive reviews I'm getting. Is it a distinct advantage? fo sho. Is it the only factor in my success? I don't think so.
Is it a legit business already? One month seems like such a short time to set something like that up.
Was it complicated to design and set up your webpage? Do you have prior experience in webdesign?
I wasn't sure at what point I would be considered a business. A few people on r/smallbusiness told me that I'm considered a small business as soon as I've had my first customer.. which is a little intimidating haha.
I used squarespace with a template, so it was pretty easy to set up but it also means that my website is pretty basic haha. I just wanted to get it functioning and then find time to learn about how to make it better or hire someone to make it better. I have absolutely no experience in web design haha
I remember you on slavelabour! What a crazy story -do you find happiness in what you do ?
hey! I remember you too! I really, really love it. I love feeling like I'm helping people, I _love_ the excited messages I get from clients when they start getting matches or have a date lined up. It also lets me work from home, which is awesome haha. Being able to do homework between sessions and getting to make my own schedule is pretty priceless.
I did my undergrad in cultural anthropology and human rights. I have a masters in human rights and I'm currently working on my masters in clinical social work. I then want to get my PhD in clinical psychology. I'm extremely interested in the history of culture and human behaviour. My long-term goal is to eventually run my own non-profit for survivors of sex trafficking. That's a good 10-15yrs away though :)
My goal with this business is to be able to do it full-time while I finish school.
What's the most common piece of advice that you can give away without potentially hurting your acquisition of clientele?
Your initial message to her should include a question that is:
a) compelling. something you suspect she is interested in or excited about based on clues from her profile b) making her the expert. people love giving advise. making her the expert flatters her. c) is something she already knows the answer to, so she can respond without having to think about it.
For example, you see a photo of her with a book by Patrick Rothfuss on her desk. Google him, you'll find that he wrote the Kingkiller Chronicles.
"I heard that the kingkiller chronicles was incredible. Did you read it? what did you think?"
If the book is on her desk then she's either read it, is currently reading it, or plans to read it. It's something she's interested in. You asked her a question, which will compel her to respond to her. You made her the expert, which will compel her to respond to her, and you asked her a question she already know the answer to- which makes it easy and fast for her to respond to you.
Your goal is for her to be able to read your message and then responded immediately. If she has to think about it, you've lost. If she reads it and then tells herself that she'll get back to you, you've lost. She is swamped in messages. As new ones come in, yours will get buried.
Are you charging enough to cover taxes? (DON'T SKIP PAYING TAXES!!) $20 is very little, after taxes.
$20 is low and everyone is still telling me that I'm undercharging. I just started off a month ago offering $5 and I've bumped it up every few weeks. I was charging $10 a week ago before I had my website- so I didn't want to jump from $10 to $30. My plan is to keep it at $20 for a week or two and then try out $30
What's the biggest mistake the guys who hire you make?
They take photos that are incredibly unflattering and are completely oblivious to it.
Hi Chloe, congratulations on turning your situation around quickly and adapting to the demand! May everything continue to go well in your career and studies. I do have a couple of questions for you:
What’s your favorite sandwich and why?
pb and j with banana all the way :)
What's the most intriguing thing you learned in your Cultural Anthropology studies?
I really loved studying the ways in which our environment affects our culture. It impacts our religions, our laws, our sense of morality, everything. For example, Mesopotamia experienced a lot of devastating floods and harsh weather. Their religion was based on the idea that humans were servants designed to worship and appease the gods. Whereas ancient Egypt the environment was less destructive and provided them with fertile crops, so their gods were typically more loving and generous.
have you ever come across a person who is beyond saving? what did you do?
I told him that I couldn't help him.
Would you ever consider hiring others in the event that demand increases beyond your expectations? 😉
(edit) A second question, how many hours do you typically spend on a single client/profile?
This is so interesting to me. Huge congrats on starting your business!
The weekends are when I'm most busy and would benefit from having help, but to be honest the idea of trusting someone else with my clients makes me really nervous. I've worked really hard to create content that I think it genuinely helpful, I've gotten tons of good reviews and I haven't had a disgruntled client (yet). Trusting my new reputation with someone else gives me anxiety haha. I have considered hiring someone to help me out a few hours a week answering my emails, and contacting clients who haven't yet paid to remind them to send payment before services, that sort of thing.
I used to spend almost two hours per client. I was only paid for an hour, but I almost always went over and I spent a lot of time scheduling with people. Like at least two hours of my days were spent scheduling on Reddit. When I built my website I got a built-in scheduler to make scheduling a lot easier. I also split up my services so that I wasn't trying to cram a million things into one session. I now offer an hour session to fix up your profile or make a new one; an hour session to talk about how to craft your initial message, compel women to respond to you, and avoid getting ghosted; a two-hour session that combines the previous two; and I have a unique service called The Pocket Chloe where I am available to you via messaging for a week. I approve new photos that clients take, answer questions, help them craft messages when they're stuck in the dms, etc.. anything they need that can be done through messaging.
The hardest thing was learning to treat my time like it's valuable. I only also spend as much time as I am getting paid for. It's definitely helped me to maintain a work/life balance that didn't exist before.
As a licensed therapist and psychology doc student, this post immediately threw up some ethical red flags for me. From what I’ve read, a lot of your work seems like unlicensed and unsupervised behavioral modification and solution-focused advice giving. Are you seeking clinical supervision around this job? What does your current academic program think of you engaging in this work? What does your state legislation say about counselors-in-training engaging in paid counseling-adjacent work? How is your student malpractice insurance conceptualizing this work?
You mention on your website that you’re a clinical psychology student (at the doctoral level) but, in comments here, have claimed to be a social work student (master’s-level) with hopes of getting into a clinical psychology program. That’s a really big difference in education and training. Which is it, and are you purposefully misrepresenting your education on your website to be more appealing to potential clients?
I understand needing to survive, I’m a doc student who has been in your exact (and worse) financial position, but I would be very cautious about this work, especially as a counselor-in-training. Personally, I would not want to risk jeopardizing my future success in the mental health field.
I'm not offering clinical services. I'm offering dating advice, at no point do I advertise or claim to be providing therapy or clinical counseling. I mentioned that I am a grad psych student, which is masters level- not phd. I am working on my masters in clinical work work, but I am also masters level psych classes and have been accepted into a PhD program for clinical psychology.
This is actually something I've spoken to one of my professors about who I have a good relationship with. She saw no issues with it. It would definitely be an ethical issue if I was offering therapy, but what I'm offering is quite different than that. I am offering help rewriting dating profiles, helping customers take more attractive photos, and talking about how to avoid getting ghosted on dating sites. It never gets clinical.
I do appreciate the concern and the feedback though :)
What are your qualifications?
I have an undergraduate degree in human rights and cultural anthropology. I have a masters degree in human rights, and I'm currently mid-way through a masters in clinical social work. My plan is to get my PhD in psych after I finish my masters.
I'm not in a serious relationship at the moment. I'm a full-time grad student and also need to work full-time to pay the bills and I just don't have the time. I'm casually dating, but I'm cautious about introducing a serious relationship into my life because I don't think I would be able to dedicate the energy it would need to stay healthy.
How did you not have a week+ of savings as a nanny? Legitimately wondering since I have family in that line of business and they’re not broke.
Were you severely underpaid or severely overspending and why?
I had a month of savings as a nanny. I was able to pay my rent and my bills for one month after losing my job, but NYC is extremely expensive and it's hard to find a job that will work around my school schedule in a month. I had been jobless for about a month when I posted to slavelabour. It was an incredibly terrifying and humbling situation to find myself I would have never ever thought I would be in that position.
I did find a part time job that I am doing while also doing this, but at the time I was in a really sticky bind with no way out.
You say you had less than a dollar to your name when you got fired. Why did you not save any money? Where did all your money go?
I have answered this before, but I a month's worth of savings- which I worked really hard to do. I couldn't find a job and then get a paycheck within a month of losing my job, that is when I ran out of money.
I now plan on having 3 month's worth of savings in the bank for my own protection.
Are you paying taxes?
I do my taxes every year, but I've only had this business for a month. I'm saving 30% and reading a book about taxes and small businesses. I'm a newbie :)
How diverse is your client base at the moment?
In terms of ethnicity? pretty diverse. With age, mostly guys 18-26. About 1/4 of my customers are in their 30's and I've had a few older men who are dating again for the first time in ages.
Was dating advice something you initially thought you’d be good at, or was it just something and you found out you were good at it by providing the service?
I gave dating advice to a lot of my guys friends. My interests are pretty nerdy and I play a lot of video-games, so most of my primary friend group is guys. I was just completely shocked at how bad they were at online dating haha. Even legit attractive and charming guys have no idea how to advertise themselves to women or take good photos. I knew I was good at helping guys redo their dating profile, I just had no idea how much of a market there was for it until I posted.
Have you been compared to the character of Hitch yet? Did you draw any inspiration from that movie?
What are you using to build your website? Im trying to build websites for a few small local businesses as a side gig. Also what's your experience with it? Challenges, difficulties?
squarespace. It is limiting because it's a template, which became frustrating when I wasn't able to do certain things with it- but building it was super duper user-friendly.
Have you yet to give bad advice? Is this something you worry about
yes, I worry that I'm not being helpful enough or that one of my customers will leave feeling that it wasn't helpful to them. I am very clear with them that not everything works for everyone, and I focus a lot of the psychology of human behavior and why people do what they do. I haven't yet had someone who felt like they didn't get their money's worth but I know that will eventually happen and it stresses me out haha
What makes you an authority on dating advice?
I'm a girl who is very familiar with the mistakes that guys make on tinder. I'm also a girl whose primary friend group is made up of guys, so I'm aware of how many awesome dudes make TERRIBLE dating profiles. I didn't know I was good at it until my friends started getting matches for the first time. Then I tried it out on Reddit for $5 an hour and I got a lot of really great reviews and guys who were recommending me to their friends. Am I an expert? I don't know. I haven't had any formal training on dating apps- but I'm making customers happy so it seems like I'm doing a really good job. That's good enough for me to feel comfortable continuing to offer services :)
Any background in the liberal arts field?
I did my undergrad in cultural anthropology and human rights. I have a masters in human rights and I'm currently working on my masters in clinical social work. I plan to finish it off with a PhD in clinical psychology. Lots of liberal arts haha. I'm very interested in human behaviour.
Fellow nerd here! What characters do you play in your D&D campaigns and why?
I play a ghostwise halfling druid (circle of the moon) in my primary campaign. I discovered d&d through watching Critical Role. There was a character called Keyleth on Critical Role who was a druid and I thought that her abilities were SO COOL haha. I went for the ghostwise halfling because Silent Speech gives me the ability to communicate with my party when I'm in my wildshape.
I'm also in a casual d&d game that doesn't meet consistently, and there I play a Khalaster light cleric called Talia Chocolate-Milk (pronounced Cha-kala-ma lol)
Ever heard of Fiverrr?
I have! Making an account is on my list :) thanks!
Do you think you’ll go back to nannying? Or has this turned into a catalyst for a life/career change?
It completely depends on how this goes. If I'm able to pay my bills doing this while I'm in school, then it's definitely something I want to continue. If I'm not able to afford to pay my bills off of this salary, then having another part time job will become necessary.
Have you started branding? If you want this to really blow up you'll want to make yourself more and more sought after and that starts with having a name that's recognizable
I haven't. I'm actually reading a book about branding now. This whole thing just started a month ago and I've only had a website for three days, so I'm still very much in the shocked, excited, and terrified phase of not knowing what I'm doing business-wise. I'm learning as I go :)
both... I have a masters degree in human rights. I am currently finishing up my masters degree in clinical social work, and I am taking the masters level classes that I need in order to start my PhD.
I'm aware that they're two different fields, but I felt that both were important because social work focuses more on the person in their environment and psych focuses more on the brain and human behaviour.
Grad student living in NYC who paid the bills as a nanny? Are you a wizard?
Desire to know more intensifies
ahaha I wish.
How did you start making a business out of that? You already had a paid domain etc..?
I want to work from home due to a lot of mental illnesses and it's always a scam, how did you make this work?
I paid for a domain 3 days ago. It was only $20 for a year. I also bought a website with squarespace for $27 a month (I got 20% with a coupon code from Jenna and Julien's podcast). I then bought a calendar/appt scheduler through acuity for $15 a month (but I'm still in the free trial period haha).
I have NO IDEA how to build a website, but I used a template from squarespace that walks you through how to do it step-by-step. I built mine in 12hrs, and while it still needs some work it's functional haha.
I also think a lot about advertising. A few hints I've discovered is that craiglist only charges $5 to post an advertisement. I paid $20 to advertise in 4 major cities this morning, knowing that if I get one client I break even. In the past few hours I've gotten 6 clients. Totally worth the money. I also made a facebook business page and I'm just waiting on approval from facebook. Then I'm going to message mods of dating groups and offer free services in exchange for being able to advertise. I'm still learning, but these are things I've found that have been working for me so far.
And now let me guess... you’re making $100k per year plus working from the comfort of your own home??
bahaha not even close. But I have groceries and my bills are paid :)
Have you ever had a woman as a client? Either interested in men or other women? If so, what kind of advice did you offer her and how did it differ from advice you offer male clients?
I've only had one interaction with a woman (she's lesbian) interested in my services. I told her that I was happy to give her the advice I could provide, but that I'm not familiar with the lesbian dating scene culture and I don't want to waste her time or her money if she doesn't feel it would be helpful. She decided not to use my services but we started gaming together so I got a friend out of it haha
When you had no money and were on the brink of being homeless did you call your parents? Or grandparents? Or aunts and uncles? Anyone?
My mom doesn't have anything to give. My only option would have been to give up my scholarship and go home, which was not an option to me.
Inveterate proofreader here. Your main page has a typo.
Ladies Galore: An hour lesson on how to get responses- $20 How tf
Just FYI. :)
thank you for that!!! The tf actually means 'the fuck' but a friend and I went back and forth over whether or not it would be perceived as a typo. I'll change it to something that makes it a little more clear :)
Do you advise against your clients posting highly edited/photoshopped images of themselves? I’m asking because the photo you posted of yourself is highly edited (no judgement!!) so I am just wondering what you recommend.
Why do your eyes look so big in that pic? I saw that on profiles in Asia all the time is that like a contact thing or a filter?
a lot of Asian girls know how to do their makeup to make their eyes look bigger, and then I also wear contacts that add a cool/weird texture to my eyes. I don't think it makes them bigger though. If you're interested, I can show you the difference of me without makeup haha. My eyes definitely look smaller without makeup.
Are you concerned about the future projection of your client-base given your only marketing being those reddit posts?
How do you plan to scale the reach of your website up to maintain a consistent client base?
This morning I posted to 4 big cities on craigslist, it cost $20 with the idea that if I got one client I would break even. I've gotten 6 last time I checked so that's something I'm definitely going to keep doing. I'm also waiting on my facebook business page to be approved and then I'm going to start messaging mods of facebook dating groups to see if I offer free services to be able to advertise to their group. I'm still definitely a newbie, but those are the things I've thought of so far haha
Have you found differences in dating norms from culture to culture? Can you explain some of the major ones that you've come across? Or are you focusing/have clientele mainly from one culture/region?
I've had a few clients from other countries/cultures than mine. We always have a discussion at the beginning of the appointment about it. I don't know the ins and outs of dating culture other any other culture than American and I would never want to take the money of someone who I'm not able to help. If they feel that my advice would be helpful to them, then we move forward, if they feel that American dating norms and their dating norms are too different for me to be helpful, then I don't charge them and wish them the best.
How many clients per day is being booked solid? Why are you aiming for 2 masters degrees? I'm glad everything worked out but all of that schooling seems very expensive.
I worked my ass off to get grants and scholarships :)
I'm so happy for you, any words of advice for people hanging on the edge?
Be resourceful. Don't give up, and do everything you can to have a savings account with 3 months of living expenses in it. I had one month of living expenses saved when I lost my job, but I couldn't find another one by the time my rent was due again and I almost lost everything because of it.
How to fuck to talk to girls?
haha how the fuck to talk to girls. I'm going to change it, I can see that it's confusing
I did respond, and no I'm not. I screenshotted both of them. It was a typo on the screenname of one person and the deleted account of another
What is your long term plan? What are you going to do once the novelty wears off so that you don’t end up impoverished? Have you taken any school, begun an apprenticeship?
I'm a grad student. My long-term plan is to finish this master's and get my PhD. If I stop making enough money to support myself then I'll get another job :)
I’m always super curious about statistics and such, so I had a couple quick ones...
1) Of all the dating advice vlogs/blogs/YouTube content out there, are there many services that are 1 on 1 like yours? 2) Of your clients, what percentage (ballpark figure if you don’t have stats) would you say are male vs female? 3) What’s the average age of people who use your services? 4) What’s the most commonly asked question you have to answer constantly?
1) I have no idea. This is not something I ever anticipated doing so I didn't research it first. It just kind of happened haha. Definitely something I plan on researching this week :) 2. All of them have been male. 3. Most of my clients are 18-26, more than a few guys in their 30's, and a few older men who are just getting back into the dating game 4. How do I avoid getting ghosted?
What is the life lesson you took from your experience - apart from everyone being able to have success through hard work?
one month of savings is not enough if you lose your job. I had enough in savings to pay my bills for a month and I still almost lost my apartment. My plan is to live as frugally as possible and save up 3 months worth of expenses.
I don't really have a question, so I'll turn my suggestion into a question. Are you aware you still aren't charging enough? If you are truly good at what you do, you should raise your prices.
I know, my clients tell me that i'm undercharging as well. I'm just trying to raise them slowly. I start off a month ago doing it for $5 an hour, so I've been raising them a bit every week or so. I'm going to change them to $30 in a week or two.