Monday, September 28, 2009

I'm Offering a Service; Do You Want It?

So, over the past few weeks, besides raiding, studying, writing and, on occasion, sleeping, I've been approached numerous times (four or five) to look over a Restoration Druid from every angle, and asked "What am I/what is he/what is she doing wrong, and how can it be improved?" I was provided with World of Logs data, armory information, and sometimes even anecdotes. I went in, looked over all the information, made my suggestions, and then later was given positive feedback, on the few who gave any.

All of what I said above was to ask: do you guys (aka my readers) feel this is a service worth offering, would you partake in it, and how would you feel about some "stranger" on the internet looking over your Druid and going "OMG WHAT DID YOU DO"?

There's always a danger when offering this kind of service, as well. Often times, what I advocate will require major regemming, respecing, enchanting and glyphing. I may make gear recommendations that will cost badges or gold. And after all that, if the Druid in question doesn't improve, well, I'll have no way of knowing if I messed up or if they did, because I'm not going to be able to roll an 80 on every server and follow them around to check up on their progress.

The other thing is, it can take me a lot of time to do these. They are not uninvolved processes unless the Druid is perfectly done (and I have no idea why they would be coming to me for advice) or near-perfect with just a few tweaks. And the ones I have gotten so far...are not near-perfect, so they take an hour or more to sort through and then give suggestions. Especially as I try to give reasons behind these suggestions so there is understanding in the future, rather than just giving them the answers and them having to return later.

And what would I do with it? Many people might prefer not to show their Druid's Pauper to Princess transformation to the internet, so my abilities to blog about it could be limited. I would, in essence, spend hours on individual Druids, teaching them how to gear and gem and enchant, with no benefit to myself other than perhaps a rather delighted person on the other end of my e-mail/IM/Skype. I suppose it sounds a little selfish to say "what do I get out of helping you" but when they take over an hour of work for each individual, you have to think of your own personal time, what you're taking away from to perform a service that isn't saving baby seals or racing for the cure (things which you only get a personal sense of satisfaction from at the time, but are definitely worthwhile).

I bounced this idea off of one of the people who asked me to look over his guild's two Restoration Druids, and he suggested I make it a paid service. In some ways, this makes sense. Give me some amount of money and I'll go over your Druid and pound out all the details. It could be a flat price or a price per thing you want me to go over. And man, if there is a real demand for this it would be insanely nice to have some pocket money, or just be able to pay off an application fee here and there for grad school.

But I'm not an "expert," I don't do theorycrafting. I practice implementation and see what works in the game and I do research, but I can't do my own math; I wouldn't know where to start. I know what works in the game, around where you should be to do what, but I can't sit there and give you the formulas behind different mechanics. And maybe people don't want formulas and would rather just have "this is what works for me, this is what we're downing ToC 25 hardmodes with, this should work for you." And that's awesome because that's what I do.

I also feel uncomfortable using my blog to make money, as weird as it sounds. Yeah, if the guys at Project Lore offered me a job, you can bet I'd snap it up in a heartbeat and brag to everybody who wasn't sick of me yet about being paid to play til I was blue in the face. I had Google's AdSense up for maybe ten minutes before I couldn't figure out how to shutdown the gold farming, power levellng ads and shut them off in disgust. I get offers from people to place ads on my blog, and I am rather clueless as to what to tell them, as I don't really know if I like the idea of ads on my blog, even if they're legitimate and WoW related. Why? I don't know. They look weird or something. But that is not the point!

This all wraps up to me wanting to know the answers to a few questions:
  1. Does this sound like a service you would use?
  2. Would you use it for yourself or your guild?
  3. Would you allow the transformation to be posted on this blog?
  4. Would you pay for it?
  5. What would you consider a reasonable price?
  6. Would your answer to question 3 change depending on if it was free or not?
I'm just testing the water here; I want to know what you guys think. And, man, how often do you get actually asked for your opinion and it's really, really wanted and not just fodder for the other side to push theirs on a pedestal? Not very often.

29 comments:

Kayeri said...

If you had offered this back when I first max-leveled Kay in BC, I would have been likely to jump on it. There were no other druids in my leveling guild, so I was basically in the place of figuring it all out on myself, and mis-interpreting some things.

I didn't know about the online community beyond the existence of thottbot to give you the occasional quest pointer. Thankfully, I know Siana and looking at her WoW blog in curiosity, it led me to yours, which linked to more... about that time, I also found a raiding resto that I could consult with sometimes. It was thanks to all of that I became a good druid healer. :)

Honestly, Bell, I dont know if it would work as a paid service, because all the information is out here if the person is willing to put in the hours of research to find it. But I also agree it's not something I would invest a lot of time in without some kind of return for me. Your time is limited, and other things must come first.

The person you are helping must also realize this service is not a one-formula-fits-all. Every raiding situation is slightly different, depending upon the exact composition of the raid and the gearing and skills of the players involved in it. What works for you may not be ideal for them. They must also be willing to put in the work on their end.

Back in the day of my shiny-newness, I was desperate enough for that help that I would have taken you up on it, and probably written of the transformation myself, because my transformation was something else... I basically went from a fairly clueless noob (in the ignorant sense of the term) to a competent healer over a couple of months of LOTS of research and working with my spells and their correct use. I basically had to re-train myself from the ground up. And make no mistake, re-training yourself IS work! The person coming to you has to make a stronger, harder commitment than you to put in the work to make the changes you recommend.

As far as what to charge, I am too old to value time well to current standards. :) It would have to be something affordable, yet give you adequate compensation for the time you put into it.

Now, judging from your tweets, you've done this at least once.... what kind of time did you put into it and did that person get what they were looking for from you? That would give you a baseline to estimate your time contribution.

Lassirra said...

I can't speak for other readers, but this was something I'd often thought about offering on my site as well. I can't tell you how many times I've received the same sorts of emails ("Plz lookit my stuffs! Wut I did?!"), and often times it becomes are relatively time-consuming process for me to go through and make all my recommendations.

I'd also be interested in finding out if this is something people would really want. Don't know why it never occurred to me to just... ask, heh.

Bell said...

@Kayeri - they take a long time. I make personalized talent specs based upon gear, role and raiding content and explain exactly why they were chosen. I go through glyph choices based upon current boss mechanics that they are facing. I explain different healing styles and how to effectively perform their role in the group (tank or raid healer). I've included explanations of boss mechanics, consumables to use, enchants for different tiers of armor and how to gem effectively.

It can take hours.

I would never charge an exorbitant amount; in fact the money thing was never my idea. But, I mean...if I can't use it on my blog, it takes such a long time to do and then I get no return other than a thank you. And thank yous are nice, and I appreciate them, but it doesn't give me a real reason to spend so much of my time on them.

And I agree, all the information is out there, or I wouldn't know half of what I know. So it's really a question of "do you want to spend the hours/days/weeks it takes to compile everything, or do you want me to do it for you and explain why?" It's like the line between giving a fish and teaching someone to fish...

@Lassirra - it just seemed like a huge inundation lately and when I found out how much time I was spending on them, I was like "Um...wow. I should be learning about Glial cells right now"

lissanna said...

I think there is a huge batch of druids that just hit 80. With my healing sticky on the forums, I actually spend a lot of time doing this kind of thing, too. I've found that resources like the plus heal forums allow for people to get specific feedback without burdening any one person in particular, where we can go to give people feedback as we have time.

Thorra said...

I'm leveling a resto druid right now with the express intention of healing in my guild's raids, which is why I started reading this blog, so my answer is an emphatic "Yes!" to your questions. I would definitely want such a service.

Ifan said...

I think if you offer this, you should do it publicly. That would have the most impact for others and be the most valuable IMO.

Maybe you can have a period to submit, then select one to do a week.

Just a thought.

lissanna said...

Also, if you have a lot of big time commitments coming up, it might not be the best time to offer a pay-for service. If people pay you, they are going to actually expect results. If they aren't paying you, then you can always send them a shorter analysis e-mail as you have time and then recommend resources for them to visit to improve their skills and/or gear.

I tend to write guides so that I can point and say "do this" rather than giving hours upon hours of very personalized feedback for people who have basically the same gear level & experience.

Anonymous said...

If you're serious about this, I would poll the people that are asking for help in the first place. Explain your time situation, and ask if they would be willing to compensate you for your time. They may want your help, but the question is "How much?"

t0xic

Alaron said...

Bell,

There's a reason that gym memberships are cheap, while personal trainers are expensive. :)
I agree with Lissanna...I'd be very careful about doing this. If you do it for free, you'll be deluged by people, many of whom will not appreciate the thought that went into your advice. If you offer it as a charge service, all kinds of thorny issues pop up...what if they're not satisfied with your advice and want their money back? What if they want periodic re-evaluations? Ugh.

If you want to help out guildies or something, that's fine, but you REALLY don't want people thinking "item X or item Y...I could research it...nah, I'll just ask Bell, she'll research it for 2 hours since she's afraid of giving the wrong answer, and I'll go watch a movie." I've gone through this same phase, myself. For example, people ask in guild chat "where do I find X?" I used to stop what I'm doing and go look it up, because I'm helpful like that...now I say "go check wowhead" and leave it at that.

I'm sorry if I come across as a little emotional, but you remind me of a younger me. Something I've learned from life is that It's great to be a provider to others...but if you don't take care of yourself first, you'll inevitably have nothing left to give to others.

Anonymous said...

Well to answer your questions. 1.No 2. No 3. Yes 4. No 5. N/A 6. No. I'm new to Resto but I'm maybe a big different. I find it fun to read blogs, EJ, forums, and learn about a new spec or class I'm going to play. I might screw up but that's the fun of learning a new class. Also, even if you were to gem, equip, and glyph 100% correctly, there's still the matter of experience--what to use and when. The tank just took a huge hit--what to do? What about addons? Etc. Gear is only one part of the story.

I also give advice free for guildies from time to time, if they approach me and if it's a spec/class I know. I find it fun to help people out but I don't have ten people approaching me every day.

However, I would say if you are getting many of these e-mails, why not offer this for a price? (Paypal, etc). Heck folks are making money selling imaginary WoW gold, powerleveling, why not? If there's concerns about results make a disclaimer when you sign up--"Bell will give her best advice but is not responsible for performance afterward :-)"

But if you don't feel right about it then don't do it. After all it's a game, not a job and shouldn't become one.

Olga said...

1. No, i like to read and think myself.
2. Well, i could at least mention it to ppl that are looking for advice, why not.
3. Would be very interesting to see.
4. As i wouldn't ask for it even for free, i can't answer.
5. Same as 4.
6. Doesn't matter.

Venrir said...

I think it reasonable that you get paid for the "work" you do.
Especially considering that in the end it boils down to those ppl being too lazy to do some research. We are at a point in wow where tons of templates, guides and so on exist and are easily available. So if you take your personal time to save some of their time you better be paid for it ; ) Not to sound like a goblin but "time is money, friend".
I guess you have 2 options: either take a fee for the "inspection" or make a once a week or so topic for your blog out of it. With their consent ofc. You present the druid and the improvements you are suggesting. I guess many ppl make the same "mistakes" and could adapt the improvements for their own char. Plus it could lead to some nice discussions about possible improvements.

Sophie-Elsen said...

I've been worrying about my own druid for a while.
I've moved into a more focused, better guild than my last one and although I am considered one of the "core" group, I worry quite a lot about my performance and my healing and my abilities.
My guild is both relaxed but focused...WWS isn't used at all, and there is no real 'group' analysis yet we manage to get to Yogg (but unfortunately he isn't dead yet!) on ten man. (We are a mainly ten man, occasionally 25 with another guild, raiding guild).
I would love to be able to feel like I'm pulling my weight more and contributing more to the team than I am doing at the moment and would absolutely love some advice off you, but I would never have the courage to out and out ask for somebody's time like that without giving them something in return.
I don't know how much I would pay, but if you were willing to help me out I would certainly try and contribute something. Maybe either something "out-of-gamey" like a paypal payment, something in game might work - a month of game time perhaps, two months? I'm not sure about costs.

Sophie-Elsen said...

Oh, and as a follow-up, I would always be more than willing to both promote the service myself and be written about.
It would be great to have some assistance and see some real changes, and be written about but also be able to tell others how brilliant it was.

tazukia said...

I for one would be happy to pay, in some way, for this advice/service. I would also understand going in that the outcome may not be optimal. It is up to me to take the information that you would provide and make it work.

Anonymous said...

1. Does this sound like a service you would use?

Yes, because I really would like to hear another opinion.

2. Would you use it for yourself or your guild?

For myself.

3. Would you allow the transformation to be posted on this blog?

Depends on the effect.

4. Would you pay for it?

It depends on the price.

5. What would you consider a reasonable price?

Depends on the time you would invest in total. So before you check the char, you should look at the profile and estimate the time you will spend for a complete analysis. A reasonable price for the first check could be 5 $.

6. Would your answer to question 3 change depending on if it was free or not?

If you will offer the service for free, I would allow a posting in your blog definitely.

Armond said...

Wow, has no one really dropped a "services" one-liner yet?

Stormtrail said...

Bell,

I enjoy your blog and appreciate having you around so I don't want this to come across wrong. I think you're overestimating the impact of the changes that you can make for the vast majority of druids and this leads you to spend WAY too much time on the consultations you've already done.

Just for clarity, what I mean is that the difference between your perfectly customized talent spec and the 2-4 resto druid archetypes in my opinion is probably no more than 5% if the 1 talent point is supposed to be roughly 1% more effectiveness.

If we take the baseline raiding druids gear to be heroic and emblem gear which is a reasonable assumption to make, you can really only come up with a few distinct spec archetypes at this point in Wrath. The rest of the filler points count more for personal taste and style than effective healing.

Once you have the basic roles and specs done, most of the performance advice for healers has to come from observation and practice with their healing partners. That in my opinion is where the biggest performance upgrades come.

Alaron said...

Seconding everything Stormtrail said. It's easy to take optimization way too far. (Now, a 25M ToTGC raid is going to need much more optimization...but 99% of raiders are not in that position.) We endlessly debate these small issues (because most of us are INTJ's...see Kae's latest work at Dreambound), but for the most part, the optimizations we can make are small, compared to factors like gear, raid composition, lag, etc.

Autotroph said...

I think this is a very good idea, however you could approach it from another angle; throughout this blog you heavily stress your heavy workload from studying, blogging and playing. I think that instead of a one-to-one personal appraisal of an individual character which -even if you were charging a fee- would not be worthwhile, you should write articles akin to the recent gemming post; thorough breakdowns of all talents and their benifits, the benefits of stacking a certain stat (haste, for example) and how to do it. These articles could be placed in a different blog, or a repository to give them more legitimacy as a resource (I don't mean to imply your current blog is illegitmate). If people then wish to gain further advice they could approach you for a one-to-one tutorial, with you charging a set fee per hour you spent. I think jumping into the payed one-to-one appraisal is missing out this step, of a comprehensive, continually updated and wide-ranging restoration druid resource, which I feel is missing from the community.

PS I will be pointed in the direction of the DruidWiki but that is sorely lacking, not disrespect to the authors there.

Saeren said...

1. Does this sound like a service you would use? Definitely. Part of figuring out how to get better is getting input from those who have been there before. I like to figure things out on my own but part of my process is getting advice – through blogs, direct contact, forums – from others and then determining what works for me when I factor in my own experience and playstyle.

2. Would you use it for yourself or your guild? I would use it for both myself and other guildies.

3. Would you allow the transformation to be posted on this blog? Absolutely.

4. Would you pay for it? Yes. If you are willing to invest your time then I am definitely willing to invest my money. You are already very generous with your time and your willingness to respond to email queries so adding a more detailed pay service on top of that seems fair to me.

5. What would you consider a reasonable price? It would have to be based on the time it takes you to prepare and write up the analysis but I would say anywhere from $15-25 would be appropriate. I would expect a written summary of your recommendations – not pages and pages but a concise summary of your findings would be a great reference.

6. Would your answer to question 3 change depending on if it was free or not? No.

I’m not going to spend a lot of time cautioning you on the perils of offering a pay service. As you have probably already learned from blogging, you are not going to please all of the people all of the time. If you are clear about what people will receive for their fee (ie. a written summary containing an analysis of your current spec and gear and recommended changes), then you should be able to manage most people’s expectations.

Regardless of what you decide about the pay service, you already know I’m a fan! Keep up the good work.

puckster said...

1) Does this sound like a service you would use?
-->Maybe. I feel very comfortable where I am at in my guild. But on the other hand, it would be extremely informative to get someone else's opinion who has a great deal of expertise.

2) Would you use it for yourself or your guild?
--> Myself. I usually give advise to other resto druids.

3) Would you allow the transformation to be posted on this blog?
--> Sure, why not.

4) Would you pay for it?
--> I think if you used it on your blog, I would expect free/discount.

5) What would you consider a reasonable price?
--> ~10 dollars an hour or 25 bucks or so prolly.

6) Would your answer to question 3 change depending on if it was free or not?
--> If it was free, definitely get it right away. ;)

Lath said...

I think perhaps the way the Shadow Priest community does this is a more realistic (and free) way to better their the overall community.

Shadow Priests are kinda lucky because the major part of their class use 1 forum for all their information - shadowpriest.com. They have a section where a new spriesty can post their stats, armory link etc and then more senior members of the group post suggestions on gear upgrades, things they could do differently etc etc.

While the responses are probably not as thorough or in detail as what your suggesting, it means the pressure isn't all on one person to complete the reviews and the service is well free so it gets used often and the information is available to everyone.

I think it is incredibly noble that you answer people in such detail, but frankly they are leeching of your niceness - there is so much information out on the internet outlining builds/gear/rotations what to do, what not to do. The fact that your giving it all to them in a neat little package has just let them be extra lazy and they wont be a better player for it. I'm a big believer in tough love :P

Sonny/Wonzy said...

I can only see this being worthwhile to you if you charged a *lot*, something in the area of $49-79. If it's less than $19 you'll be inundated with request and you'll resent it because the work is worth more than that. The higher price let's people know it's a spectacular service and you'll be able to lavish more attention on those willing to pay for it.

I've never seen a personal trainer IRL that charged less than $60 per hour.

Sylly said...

Bell, I have thought about this post now for a couple days. I know exactly what you're talking about, as I've fielded similar requests from my own readers and have put in extensive work to help readers get their toons on track. Sometimes it's as exhausting as it is exhaustive. However, I'm finding myself more and more in the "teach a man to fish" camp, making general suggestions and pointing out excellent resources to help people find their own way through. That way, my responses can be more easily replicated and take less time and focus on my part. I definitely understand the impulse to charge for the help, though, as answering these requests takes a great deal of time, a precious resource!

Lilivati said...

It is something I would consider using. However, I wouldn't likely be willing to pay what it is actually worth (in terms of time invested on your part). I'm sorry if that sounds horrible or cheap, but it's simply not worth the true hourly charge to me.

In either case I would be more than happy to let you eviscerate Athorius on the blog. ;) We recently got another restofruif in my guild, but for the most part it's just me and I don't have anyone to discuss gear/gem/spec/etc decisions with. Being able to glimpse an objective perspective would be awesome!

Ly said...

I have been thinking about this post and the comments for a while now. I wish I were an uber druid. I love reading this blog and Restokin's. Where I feel like I haven't been able to tap into expertise is the amazing druid's playstyle. What do he/she use to move? Mouse or AWD keys? What addons does he/she use? Healbot or Grid? If Grid is used, then what parts of Grid, Resto4life covered it ages ago, has it changed? Do you use mouse buttons or number keys to cast spells? This is the kind of information I would love to find. The other info seems to be out there.

:-) Thanks millions for this blog I check it daily.

--Ly

Obsidian Kitten said...

I'm an 80 resto druid and this is my first WoW toon. I'm in a great guild and have finally progressed to regular ToC10 and the occassional ToC25. I've done a lot of reading/research and feel fairly confident about my gear/gem choices BUT often wonder if I should/could be getting more out of my druid.

I would *love* to have someone with experience look me over and give me feedback/criticism/suggestions etc. I'm willing to regem/regear/reglyph etc or rework my heals rotation if it means I can be a better healer.

I wouldn't mind at all if such a rework became a blog post...I think it'd be interesting.

I'd be willing to pay $25-30 (more based on what I can afford than what I think your time is worth)

Love the blog, keep it up, and keep me in mind as a guinea pig if you decide to do this!

Anonymous said...

I will consider your services in the future! Just give me some other detail about it!
Offering Expert Advice