1. Boy, was this a timely post for me, Kristen. I struggle with this in my business. Specifically, people asking for “sample edits.” I try to avoid them, but sometimes get caught in that web of wanna-be writers simply trolling for free edits. I’m going to chew on this as per what to do.

    • Never thought about that either… like why would they want a sample edit. How about a money back guarantee Susan? Or one paragraph or something

  2. I am constantly asked for free advice, or a meal plan, or a workout. People don’t realize the thought and energy that goes into creating a workout plan or that nutrition is not one size fits all. I’ve even had a friend, who I do give free workouts to, ask if her I could help her daughter!! When I said “Sure, have her schedule an appt with me”, I never ended up hearing from her. We need to stand up for ourselves or it will keep on happening!

    • This is so true Lisa and I had gals down here that got tired of that and put all of their meal plans and workouts into a membership website.. yup!

  3. Say that Kristen! I have been slowing putting together a post regarding the free information seekers also. I’m even tempted to add a paid service to my website titled “Pick My Brain Session” (or something similar).

    I don’t suffer from this dilemma any longer because I learned to set good boundaries around my expertise and time. No matter how they ask, I just keep on steering them toward my paid offerings. I don’t think the free information seekers realize that a LOT of people are asking us for free information. I always laugh at the people who think I am being bitchy not to help them. To those people I say, “your opinion of me is not my business”. 😉

    • Yes, that is exactly it… it’s only 5 minutes or a quick question but if they understood how many of those I get about social media alone! Preach it Rachel

  4. The last time I was running my kids’ arts and crafts school I had friends expecting huge discounts – ‘mates rates’ – which I readily gave as I didn’t want to offend them. You are right, these same people wouldn’t have asked me to give them a discount if I worked for a company instead of running my own business. That being said, this time around (I’m reopening the school), I’m offering a couple of free workshops to reintroduce myself as a teacher in the community. I expect this to pay off with word of mouth further down the track. So I guess sometimes, giving away a little bit initially can help with sales later on. I agree there is a fine line though and people tend not to ‘count’ your skills and expertise as much when you are working for yourself.

    • That is a little different or maybe you could offer a super low price for intro special attendees and give them a bonus something… that way, they still pay and everyone gets value Tami.

  5. Hahahahaha you made my day with this post! It is so timely at this stage of my business. I see this very often in Facebook groups. I am saving your response and going to use it when next someone mentions to me “quick question…”

  6. YES! Love this! Not just for people giving away their time for free, but small businesses who Expect us to give our time away for free.
    This get’s me a little mad. Loved your post.

  7. Guilty as charged! I am constantly asked for my thoughts, my opinion, my advise and am sad to say, I freely give it! I do feel it is important to build a relationship with someone before you begin asking to be paid for your knowledge and experience. I am involved in a project now that is in the incubation stages…meaning no money, and have been ‘freely’ offering content for the last 4 or 5 months. I have been thinking it is time to ask to be paid and seem to find it challenging. Thanks for the push to say no to free and to ask for a fee, Kristen!

    • I think you and I are thinking a little differently Bev. I understand there is a difference between relationship and experience building but when it comes to folks who have no intention of buying your products or services and keep asking for the world… it’s a bit different. And why must building a relationship come in the form of giving out advice, versus getting to know the pains that we EACH see.

  8. So true! I think having a firm price and policy is really important. Otherwise it confuses clients and customers. I have a few free resources on hand that I direct clients to when they are not willing to pay. Having a book is also helpful. If a client cannot afford a session, they can buy the book.

    • There are free services that lead to paid.. but that is the goal. Great idea on the book Candess

  9. I read a great solution to this age-old problem: Say, “Sure, I’d be happy to help. What’s your budget?” If they respond with, “Just want to ask a quick question, come back with, “I understand. What’s your budget?” Keep repeating till they get the idea.

    • Some people just don’t get it.. but then again… they never will.. but hey, I’m not going to give them what they want either…right Jackie?! 🙂

  10. I’ve seen plenty of self-help professionals offer a free introductory session or a brief telephone conversation. Sometimes it’s a help in weeding out the people who are not a “fit.” For the most part, it’s time-consuming and putting everything in a FAQ page makes more sense. Love your idea to directing them to a paid consultation session. That establishes your credibility as a professional from the beginning.

    • I get that we need to weed out and build relationships and such but I have seen so many that already KNOW what I offer, we DO have a relationship and they insist on getting that free advice because they are cheap. I put a stop to that Joyce! 😉

  11. So true…I actually have this problem too…people asking for a quick question or help with their social media for their wine business, or a short very ‘quick’ translation for free. As for the translations I never do for free…unless they have given me something before of value other than money…and this only applies to wineries. FOr the quick questions regarding social media, I still am not very good but I am becoming better. Last week I actually told a person wanting help with how to use a social media channel, that he can ask me for a paid course. I felt very nervous afterward thinking he would not answer me again…I am not sure why I felt like this. But then he, in turn, works freelance for a big business here…and he would use my ‘quick help’ there. So a little later I felt good, because why would I give away my knowledge for free to an end-client having big pockets…? So you are right…we should all become better…:-)

    • That is an AWESOME example Kata.. and just think… you give them that one time, it usually has more to follow. But sure, I would be happy to have a paid consult and go over all of your questions! 😉 Great job!

  12. Wow wow wow… Kristen, you never cease to amaze me. This article is SO timely for me. The whole idea of asking for things for free is funny when you talk about Walmart and other companies. Yet, when talking about small business owners, YOU ARE SO RIGHT and it’s not very funny.

    I really like how you created healthy boundaries around this ‘ quick question’ issue. I used to set aside like 30 minutes for people who wanted to connect and pick my brain. No wonder they haven’t hired me, they got a ton of stuff for, wait for it, FREE. Blah.

    I’m going to change how I handle these things. I like the idea of setting aside a specific amount of time and charging for it. I also like asking people what their budget is!

    • Awww, you are too sweet Tandy. And that is right, why do they need to pay you for your services, they keep taking it in bite sized pieces… so maybe you need to start offering it in those sizes? 🙂

  13. Read your post very timely. I really needed this reminder now when I am about to talk to a prospective client and family friend for 3rd time where he brings in his whole mgt team on the telecon, they all ask ‘quick questions’ and nothing comes out of it. This time I am going to focus on questioning about issues they are facing instead of answering their queries and as suggested will divert them towards my consultancy fee.

    • Thanks so much for the comment Shalini and I totally get it. So many “quick questions” with no intentions (sometimes, not always) of paying for your services. So, good turn, take all of the questions and provide answers, not solutions, or statements saying how you could solve their issues within your services. Good job and hope it works. If not, they either won’t take your services (which they weren’t anyways) or they will find someone else to leach from!

  14. Not every consultant/expert is completely innocent. In fact they are many times their own worst enemies. So many give away the knowledge nugget like it’s water. FIRST! Without anybody even asking! If you watch them, it usually comes as unsolicited advice…trying to fix people…in a meddling, narcissistic, people pleasing sort of way. An excellent place to get a sampling of this self-sabotage is at networking events. The air gets thick with it.

    But then WHEN their original target comes back for more knowledge nuggets (and predictably so) because they only got half way there, or half of the expected results – THAT is when the guru-de-la-offended pops up and the “how dare you” feelings creep in. Without any realization that they were the ones who created the time-suck monster in the first place. Now they have a room full of monsters, and every line flashing with monsters on hold. And then they blame the monsters.

    • I would agree with you Gary. I actually started offering consulting fees for this reason. Because when you allow things to happen, you enable folks and then they expect it. So we all need to be better business owners and set proper standards and boundaries.

      We do and have created our own monsters.

      We do need to give info, to show we are knowledgeable in our industry… but doesn’t mean we have to constantly be an info booth either.

      Great points and I do appreciate you stopping by to leave your comments.

  15. I agree 100%. But, if one *does* give away time like that, one way to salvage / recoup a bit of value out of it would be to use those “quick questions” as inspiration for blog pieces, videos, etc.

    • Oh yes, I absolutely agree Jim! I keep my ear to the ground on those quick questions and do blogs, instructional videos or create products to sell that have the answers. That is one way to know what folks are asking, indeed! Great comment, thanks for stopping by!

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