Hoo! So I got nipped in the butt yesterday a bit.
Yesterday, I sent an email out to a bunch of people that had applied to become a professional snuggler through my website. No big deal, right?
Except I haven't reached out to all of them in a really long time, and many I had not talked to at all (I'm talking on the magnitude of nearly a year). So there were a lot of not happy people.
I'll be the first to admit I'm a procrastinator, but even this was above and beyond how bad I usually am. But looking back at what had happened, it totally made sense.
So I got my first media exposure as a professional snuggler, and it went well! The final question they asked in the interview was: how would you recommend someone get started?
I paused. Not how I did, I thought. I had memories of holes in my training that I had re-engineered myself for my own purposes, the first time I tried to explain to the agency that a client had not followed the code of conduct and they responded that it "doesn't sound that bad," and the one and only time I needed to reach out to my supervisor for a session that ended early with an angry client (because the client realized he had walked into a service that was not what he was looking for) and they didn't pick up the phone... there's no way I could rightfully recommend someone go through what I did.
I mulled over this misery with my friend Alex that evening over drinks, and feeling bad that I didn't have a better answer. He just started at me like I was stupid. "Why don't you teach them?" he said. "You love teaching anyways. You have your own system for yourself that not everyone else is doing. You care about this work."
I felt like I got hit by a lightning bolt. Of course! If I had nowhere to send people to, I'd send them to me!
And so I set up a simple website with an application page for snugglers so I could train them personally. A few people would fill it out after the article went live, I'll talk to them, I'll figure out if it's something they're interested in, train them, and then I'd have a professional snuggling company, right?
The article went out while I was at my construction engineering job a few weeks later. I put my phone in my bag so I wouldn't look at the email notifications telling me that someone had filled out an application. I was going to build a business and finally teach people how to do this work!
So the day went on, and when I was leaving I had a hard time finding my phone in my bag, so I used my business phone to call it. "Hello, you have reached Samantha Varnerin..."
M--my phone had died. My battery life was fully charged when I put it in my bag. What happened? I thought. I connected it to my car charger and turned it on. Then as the pings went through I knew exactly what happened.
It wasn't just a few people that had filled out that form. Within hours of leaving my phone alone, hundreds of people had filled out my application form.
I had no idea what to do with all of this! I was expecting 10, maybe 30 people max to fill it out. I could handle a few applications, but hundreds? I'm one person! I reached out to my best friend Elissa and she came over and helped me sort through leads the next week. But over the next few days, another fifty or so applications would come in and then my sorting process was invalid.
(I recognize some of you had come in later down the line because I had opened up applications again. That's a whole other story entirely when I thought I was prepared enough to take on applicants in specific cities. I found out quickly that I wasn't yet.)
I shut down applications and mulled over what to do next. I worked fulltime, and there were people that were looking to work for me. I wasn't ready to suddenly market like my life depended on it and compete in the big national agency SnuggleSphere (yes I just made that word up).
And after talking with some experts, I realized I didn't really want to.
What I really wanted... was to teach.
I couldn't recommend any national agencies to get started with because they don't teach all the skills I feel people need to get started. Even some of the current experts in cuddle therapy were creating courses for cuddling, but I still felt it wasn't quite what was needed for people right now. Professional Cuddling isn't quite at the respectability it needs to be yet, and I want to bring it to that level. Before we can do that though, people need to know more about professional cuddling so they can go into any program or agency prepared.
So... this is me saying: I plan to train more people directly at some point, but I don't want to be a big agency. If anything, it's going to be a small, elite agency. Amy and Kat have already done an amazing job learning under me and I want to get more people involved. But I want to focus on helping more people in this profession.
The big agencies are great for getting potential clients' information so you have people to work with. I want to be the support and teacher so you know what to do when you get those leads and when those leads turn into clients.
And now I have the capacity to do just that.
Want to know more about becoming a professional snuggler? Sign up for my email list here.