This blog post was brought to you by the generosity of AJATT's patrons!

If you would like to support the continuing production of AJATT content, please consider making a monthly donation through Patreon.

Right there ↑ . Go on. Click on it. Patrons get goodies like early access to content (days, weeks, months and even YEARS before everyone else), mutlimedia stuff and other goodies!

Consulting? How Much?

Hey! I really love getting your emails! And answering your questions and sharing advice, experiences, et cetera.

Unfortunately…I’ve found myself trying to minimize time spent answering questions in order to maximize time spent doing things that, well, pay financially. And stuff.

But I’d actually really love to be working with you guys.

As it happens, back in March of this year (2008), I received a special request from a reader of AJATT, who wanted extra step-by-step advice on study equipment purchases, setting up the SRS and  just generally getting started. He offered a generous donation in exchange for a month of unlimited, detailed guidance through emails. The set-up worked out really well, and so I’m thinking of offering this service to everyone. Before I go ahead with the offering, I want to ask you this: what do you think is a fair price for:

  • 1 week of unlimited email guidance
  • 30 days of unlimited email guidance
  • 1 hour of phone consulting time

respectively? Let me know by leaving a comment. You can copy and paste the following format if you want, to save yourself some typing.

  • [1 week email][AMOUNT]
  • [30 days email][AMOUNT]
  • [1 hour phone][AMOUNT]

(P.S.) The basic idea is that you could still email me for free, but if you really feel like you need step-by-step help, then this provides a “hotline” of sorts.

  30 comments for “Consulting? How Much?

  1. Adam
    July 9, 2008 at 12:09

    I think it sounds like a good idea and it could really help people who need that step by step guidance (Or people too lazy to read through all of your articles). Also you give a lot of good motivation and are extremely positive so I’d say that’s a big boost to anyone.

    I think something fair would be around

    [1 week email][$10]
    [30 days email][$20]
    [1 hour phone][$30]

    For the 1 hour phone, I’m thinking that’s about how much a private japanese lesson usually costs, and I’m sure your advice would be worth way more then any private lesson.

  2. Madamada
    July 9, 2008 at 12:21

    [1 week email][$20]
    [30 days email][$35]
    [1 hour phone][$30-$40]

    Not trying to turn this into an auction, I’m just thinking that some people (possibly including me) could burn up a lot of your time in emails in a week. More than $10 worth of anyone’s time.

  3. Scott
    July 9, 2008 at 12:27

    I know people will say it’s too expensive, but I’ve done this kind of thing, with Digital Audio/MIDI, IT, 英語, etc. You have to make this worth your time.

    * [1 week email][99]
    * [30 days email][199]
    * [1 hour phone][30-50]

    If you get 5 emails a week from a customer, and spend an hour on each one you are making 25/hr. That’s almost too cheap, but maybe a good start. I’m sure you know this, if you price it too low, you maybe be busy, but inevitably grumpy>:(

  4. Nuke-Marine
    July 9, 2008 at 12:46

    [1 week email][30 dollars]
    [30 days email][60-90 dollars]
    [1 hour phone][30 dollars]

    I have to say that unlimited e-mail service is questionable. Some may use it alot, while others feel bad going past 1 e-mail. I’d say 10 e-mails (3 paragraphs of info each I guess) is equivalent of 1 hour phone call so 30 dollars.

    Your call though. I assume the phone is over Skype or some such?

  5. Madamada
    July 9, 2008 at 12:53

    Yeah, I was also thinking that some upper limit to the number of emails might be wise. Perhaps also a simple word-count limit per email.

  6. Jon
    July 9, 2008 at 13:28

    “Unlimited” is a big number. There’s also the question of whether you want “what [we] think is a fair price” or “what we would be willing to pay”—it’s hard to see how less than what you could get doing any other kind of work for the same amount of time, perhaps less a “satisfaction discount” if you enjoy this more than your other for-pay activities (or plus a “dissatisfaction fee” if the reverse) could be considered “fair”, but it could be easily more than many people would be willing to pay.

    I’ll offer some guesses as to “fair” or “willing to pay” once I do some more thinking as to how I might use such a service, if I were to.

  7. 台湾で伝道した奴
    July 9, 2008 at 15:15

    I agree with the people who talk about unlimited being a big number. Although, then again, it’s not like you’re always going to be there to respond to their e-mails within 5 minutes of when they sent it, so it’s not like you’re going to spend all of your time each day doing this. I would work it out to where it averages out to something around $50/hr for the 1 week, $30/hr for the 30days (discount for longer time period), and somewhere between $75 and $90 for the 1 hour phone consultation.

    And speaking of things which take time that you’re not getting paid for, when are you going to update Khatzu Memo so we can view the statistics?

  8. Tuan
    July 9, 2008 at 15:41

    [1 week email][$10]
    [30 days email][$20]
    [1 hour phone][$30]

  9. Ryan
    July 9, 2008 at 16:29

    $40 for an hour on the phone; twice that if you ever decide to write a book (which takes oceans of uninterrupted time).

    As for e-mail consultation, it depends on what kind of response time you can guarantee.

  10. July 9, 2008 at 16:29

    Just to echo what a couple others have said, don’t undervalue your time. You will become disgruntled very quickly and also have to deal with people who will run all over you because it’s cheap. Choose a price that’s fair to YOU, but still within reach of the serious student. If people are serious they will pay. A higher price also tends to be an indicator of quality in the minds of many, and you reputation is very good in the language learning community, so you don’t want to cheapen this.

    These links are geared more towards selling software, but they mention some of the points I made that are just as applicable to selling a service such as yours:

  11. Dado
    July 9, 2008 at 17:20

    [1 week email][30-50 dollars]
    [30 days email][100-145 dollars]
    [1 hour phone][45 dollars]

    Let’s say your fee is about $45 per hour. You could spend about 10 minutes writing an email, it would be $7,5 per email, so it’s about $50 per week (7 e-mails). However you should consider if you write personalized emails or you’ll use tamplates with just some personalizations. So the fee should be about $30 to $50 depending on that. Also, you should consider how much time you spend on emails, I considered 10 minutes, but it could be more.
    The 30 days fee: just multiply your weekly fee and add a discount (maybe 10%).
    The 1 hour call is equivalent to your hourly fee: $45.

    However consider this as prices for a professional service, not just a mailing of your already existing articles by e-mail. You should give a real premium services to your customers.

  12. nacest
    July 9, 2008 at 17:44

    Wouldn’t this mean the end of this blog? You will have no significant gain from writing new posts compared to paid consulting. It makes me sad 🙁

  13. Ivan the Terrible
    July 9, 2008 at 21:16

    I was always curious as to how you found the time to do your daily reps, write new blog posts, update Khatzumemo, watch Cantonese movies and shows repeatedly, respond so quickly to E-mails AND still have a job of some sort to avoid starvation. I’d guess this post shows that there are, in fact, a limited number of hours in a day. 🙂

    I can’t give any advice on payment others haven’t given already, but here’s hoping you find a good payment setup!

    > Wouldn’t this mean the end of this blog? You will have no significant gain from writing new posts compared to paid consulting. It makes me sad 🙁

    Ever find yourself thinking about the irony of that…or, for that matter, of the entire basis of this blog? I also check in here frequently for new posts, and every time I do I think, “if I’m really following this method, why am I checking up on a primarily English language web site?”

    It’s like spending the day on the couch enthusiastically reading a book called, ‘Get out and exercise!’ The most successful students of this particular study method would, by definition, stop coming here.

    But ah, I’m weak! I need encouragement every once in awhile, when the Hanzi all start to blend together and the path to Final Victory ™ seems like it will never end. And so I keep checking in.

  14. Jim
    July 10, 2008 at 01:20

    Good for you, this is a great idea! You have valuable experience to share.

    I would start out low, $10-$20 per hour. Hopefully, you’ll attract plenty of work, and get not only experience, but glowing testimonials!

    But later, don’t hesitate or feel guilty about having to increase your rates to keep the work level manageable.

    There’s only one Khatz to go around! If people can’t afford your personal attention, they still have the free blog and the community here.

  15. nsct
    July 10, 2008 at 02:02

    This a great blog with a good method to learn Japanese. I think that the one who read all the posts of the blog will know a lot.

    By the way I understand why someone would ask for more specific advice. I am also interested.
    I am ready to sign up for email guidance. What price ? Reguarding the time and the money you would save me + the time you would need to spend :
    [1 week email] [$50]
    [30 days email] [$100]

    I am ready to give you $100 for what I am sure will help me.

    Phone ? I am not really interested but to me you need to have a good price for one hour of your time. Low price may attract too much not so interested people.

    To conclude try keeping this blog alive. It’s so motivating.

    Well I forgot something : thank you.

  16. Lawenia
    July 10, 2008 at 02:54

    I agree with Jim. I think you should start at least $15 dollars an hour if not a bit more. And I don’t think you should feel bad if you get so much work that you have to increase the price. You are after all a professional. =P

    When my aunt started getting too many requests for her artwork my dad suggested that she just increase her prices until she got the amount of work she wanted.

    P.S. You are exceedingly cool and I think some people would want to have an hour phone call with you just because you exude awesomeness.

  17. Nuke-Marine
    July 10, 2008 at 06:52

    Lawenia says it best. My opinion also is there’s never enough money to do something you don’t enjoy for very long. Hopefully you enjoy doing e-mail and phone help, just not having the time in your schedule to do it. If being paid opens up time (by incentive or merely going a personal business route), then that’s the best.

    As Isaac Asimov said, “I’m being paid to do something I enjoy” (ok, I don’t know if he said it, but it sounds good).

  18. 台湾で伝道した奴
    July 10, 2008 at 07:33

    I’m surprised at how low the numbers are that people are putting out. I mean, if you’re living in Japan, you can make a LOT more than $10-15/hr doing private tutoring of English, especially if you have a good reputation. Well, you’ve got the reputation already through this blog, not to mention you still live in Tokyo, right? In a 2004 survey, Tokyo was listed as having the highest cost of living in the world! Personally if I was doing EXTRA work outside of what I already do normally, I would want it to pay MORE not LESS than what I’m normally making. Preferably a lot more because I value my free time.

  19. hueoblue
    July 10, 2008 at 08:07

    Most of these are absurdly low. I wouldn’t go anywhere below $40/hr, it’s up to you what that means in terms of weeks and months of e-mail. The comment on english private tutoring is dead on. You have a fairly unique method, or at least you have packaged it in an attractive and effective manner unlike anyone else and you are continuously working to improve it. That’s worth a lot. Don’t sell yourself short.

  20. Peter
    July 10, 2008 at 09:02


    To spend an hour on the phone, giving, presumably, technical advice on programming as well as how to use the SRS, I think you ought to charge 5000 yen. Translators ask for this at a minimum and you have a similar specialty.

    As for a week of unlimited e-mail help, again 5000 yen seems appropriate.

    A month: 17000.

  21. Peter
    July 10, 2008 at 09:19


    Another thought, which I’m sure you’ve already had. You have a group of specialties–Japanese-English translation, computer programming, educational computing, engineering etc–that complement each other. As a freelancer, the ones most Japanese companies will recognize are translation and programming. A friend in Japan mentioned that a rock bottom price for translation is 5000 yen per hour. I suggest that, whether you are currently translating or not, you work up a price sheet a range of services and reasonable hourly and long-term pricing. That way, when you say that you command a similar price as an ‘educational computing consultant’ (or whatever you decide to call yourself), a potential client will associate it with the range of your specialties and understand the price as legitimate.

    I am not being very clear, I know. My point is this: you want to receive payment for helping people set up SRS’s and, more generally, language learning software. You want potential clients to recognize that this is a high-level intellectual service. But they, especially if they have met you informally and think of you as an acquaintance, will want to see you as a hobbyist or a dilettante, which you are not. I think that this misperception explains all the ridiculously lowball figures that you have received in answer to your question.

    One last suggestion which, again, I’m sure you’ve already thought of and acted upon: ask the experts what they charge. I seem to remember seeing computer consultants for the gaijin community advertising in Metropolis many years ago (when it was published under a different name). They built computers to specification, serviced them, advised on software, etc. If they or people like them are still in business, you ought to ring them up.

    Just my 20 yen worth.

  22. Madamada
    July 10, 2008 at 10:11

    I’ve “earned” 50,000 yen for a few hours of editing of technical papers (with a small amount of Japanese to English translation included). But the people paying were forking out from research grants, not their own pockets.

    I just wonder if some of you who are quoting the big figures aren’t used to daling in similar situations where payment is from coorporate or government funds.

    Of course if Khatz can get the work he wants at those prices (and I for one will happy to pay) then that’s great. But, I get the impression that a lot of the regular readers here are young students (secondary and tertiary) who don’t have that kind of money. There are ways around that of course like student discounts or such.

  23. July 10, 2008 at 12:35

    I don’t need services at the moment (future?), but I’m glad to see you doing this! I totally support your capitalistic ambition! No one should be disappointed–it’s like personal trainer phone consultations. It isn’t that the info isn’t freely available… it’s just some need it handed directly to them to really get going and be excited with it. Worth every penny to those who want that.

    While there are reasons to make email expensive, I guess people aren’t so different so sometimes you’ll be able to cut and paste a paragraph and just change one or two words 🙂

    Personally I’d go for a phone consultation, cause it’s about having closer contact to your “passion” than through the text we can already read on the blog, thus your real voice. heh. $25 would be ideal imho.

  24. Adam
    July 10, 2008 at 23:58

    Good luck!

    Will you still be answering normal emails? I can understand if you’re behind, though.

  25. July 11, 2008 at 11:06

    I’m echoing some people above. Most most English tutoring in Japan the teacher gets paid between 2,500 to 4,000 yen per hour. Don’t sell yourself short.

    You could also try a special promotion or something, like the first 10 customers get 1 week of email for only 1,000 yen, but your standard price should be higher. Or you can have somethinkg like 5 emails for 1000 yen, unlimited emails for 3000 yen.

  26. July 11, 2008 at 12:44

    Another thing to consider: You can tutor online there and set your own rates. Looking around that site it looks as if the tutors range from $10 for 30 minutes to $40 for 30 minutes. The top rated tutors for Japanese are charging $30 for 30 minutes. Even if you don’t use their service, it’s a good source to see what competing rates are.

  27. Luke M
    July 12, 2008 at 12:40

    Don`t ever sell yourself short! The rest should be up to you not others. If people really want your personal attention then they will find a way to afford it. If some complain that you charge too much that`s because they undervalue you and are not willing to do what it takes to afford your service… Just think about some of the personal development coaches you admire…(T.R. for example).

    …ok I`ll get off my soap stand now. lol. 🙂

  28. Seb
    July 21, 2008 at 22:23

    Another topic but still money and japanese language oriented.

    Have you ever thought about selling your 10 000 sentences database to people wo want to learn japanese ?

    Thanks for your website, your helped me to discover Mnemosyne and the advantage of using a SRS software !

    Don t stop posting 🙂


  29. August 23, 2008 at 00:01


    Something about this doesn’t feel right. I always felt one of the strongest things about this blog was that you kept yourself at something of a distance and wanted us to make progress on our own. I fully support you getting paid for your time, but I think relying on you for consulting would be a step backward for many of us.

    Speaking for myself, there are several questions I would like you to answer, but I think I would be infinitely better served if I put in the hours and answered them myself, finding out what’s the most effective way for ME to work, which may not be the same as what works for you. I know you’re saying you will just give advice, but with your background, it will be hard for most of us to follow our own thoughts over yours.

    Even though I do somewhat disagree with it, good luck on your new venture.


  30. Harold
    November 22, 2009 at 07:32

    If you don’t charge for your services then how do you support yourself?

    Charge whatever you can get.

    You deserve it.

    I have a one-on-one business. I don’t have the guts to charge what I am worth. That is my own problem.

    You, my friend, have more than earned the right to charge.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *