I read an insightful article awhile ago that has stuck with me. It's called No, You Can't Pick My Brain. It Costs Too Much. by Adrianne Graham written for Forbes.
In this piece, Adrianne talks about how people are always asking her for free advice and WHY she isn't going to give it anymore.
“Your knowledge has value. You’ve invested time and money into learning your craft and it’s not fair for people to expect you to give it away for free. Even friends need to understand there are boundaries.
For example I will no longer advise my friends or family for free. (Wow, I just made some people mad….they’ll get over it!). I have businesses to run, employees to pay, a mortgage to pay, an office rent to pay, college tuition, etc, etc, etc.”
Working in social media and writing as much as I do, I am giving away a lot of free advice and sharing things that I have learned. But where should I draw the line with a request to do something for a friend or client? This is the pondering spot today.
A good place to start is seeing the value in my skills and creating the boundaries prior to the request for freebies. Personally, I've updated my profiles where it is possible to list that I consult on social media and online communications. I've also clearly explained on my contact form that I can't (and won't) respond to requests to pick my brain via email. Being ready with a response will help make it easier to redirect the conversation.
“Don’t back down. I know it’s hard to say “no” sometimes. But you can’t back down. People will know how far they can bend or push you. Stand firm, set your boundaries and guard your treasures (your brain and the know how in it). The minute you compromise you devalue yourself and your expertise.”
I am going to create a fee schedule and stick with it. One of the best points that Adrianne makes in her article is that if people will walk because you won't give them a freebie, they were not going to be your client. There is a very fine line between a friend and someone who wants to use you for something. Sometimes it is very hard to see where it is but if they are a friend, they need to respect your skills, talents, and time.
One way that I give back to my community is hosting a live Facebook Q&A on my Facebook Page each week at 2 pm ET. I've connected with many new friends this way and answered a ton of questions.
Social media lends itself to many different kinds of relationships and while I am a fantastic friend, my professional services are not part of the friendship. I would like to think that the people who come to me for advice are coming because they see the value that I provide, not because they think it would be free.
And in the words of Guy Kawasaki, to me, “the truth shall set your fee.” Re-read that statement, it's worthy of repetition.
How do you handle when people ask you to do things for free that are part of what you get paid to do? Share your stories in the comments, love to hear them!