Having been in the publishing industry for many years I’ve often wondered how other professionals charge and feel about questions regarding their profession. With 30-years in the industry and an advanced degree, I feel that the information I offer should be worth something. It took me long enough to acquire all this information, it also took a large amount of money and effort to go through a Masters program in publishing. Why would people expect me to give them information for free? I’m already giving free content through my bog posts and videos.
Hey Doc, I got this pain…
Some of the other professions that get asked for information are doctors and lawyers. Everyone always wants to go to a doctor and say: “Hey, I have this problem with my shoulder can you tell me what I should do about it?” But meanwhile the doctor has a practice that he needs to keep up and viable as a transmission point for ROI on his education and learning. By the same token lawyers are always asked for free legal advice. “Hey I had an accident on Colfax! What should I do and who should I contact? The accident might’ve been my fault.” Both professions get asked questions for free advice all the time, but is this appropriate? Are we actually paying respect to the fact that this person spent years in school and possibly years in practice to hone their profession to a high level of respectability?
Free is a Way to Build Relationships
I think free information is a great way to get your word out. I’ve been blogging for years. I’ve been doing videos for about a half-a-year now and I thoroughly enjoy giving information to help people in their chosen fields. Having spent so much time in managing departments, I have a wealth of knowledge about business, operations, communications, and a plethora of other areas of import that might help an aspiring professional in any arena of business. The question would be where do you draw the line and start asking for a fee for your information?
The Rules of Thumb…
I think there are a few different factors that go into this equation:
1. What is your relationship with the questioner? If this person is a dear friend that you’ve known for years, then I think the questions are valid and the free information transfer is required. If this person is an acquaintance than the nature of the relationship is different and needs to be evaluated.
2. The depth of the question or number of questions: if someone is asking you five different questions and you answer all five but then there is a follow-up with another seven questions, depending upon your relationship in number one above, this would be the mark of a business relationship. As such, an evaluation of the relationship is in order so that your professional standing is respected.
3. What is the level of need of the questioner? If the person asking the question has no reasonable way to pay you and this information might be tantamount to a parachute to help them in an economical way, then the passing of the information is a donation of goodwill to help your fellow-man. Always use your knowledge and experience for the good of others. If you know for a fact that the person asking the question has the ability to pay, then the nature of the relationship needs to be evaluated.
The transfer of free information from an expert in the field is a great way to build visibility and get your word out that you know exactly what you’re talking about. There is nothing wrong with asking for payment for your expertise. If you have information that people want and you have a background of success and excellence that can back-up your reputation as a professional then it is only fitting that you should be able to set the price for your knowledge and information transfers.
Never Devalue What You Know!
Never devalue your experience and knowledge by giving everything away for free. Set a limit, and set a price standard. The free-market will judge whether you are worth your asking fee or not.
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