Are You Giving It Away For Free?

Post by Ray 2 years ago - social media marketing - 0 Comments

Giving Free Advice

Do you give away free samples of your work?

How many times have you’ve been invited to a lunch meeting where your brain is the main course?

If you’re a graphic designer or marketing consultant chances are it happens regularly.

If you work in a large marketing firm, you’ll be very familiar with “Request For Proposals” or RFP’s. 

Our resident Ray2Go Show marketing experts shared their stories and opinions on why people have no qualms asking us for free work when they wouldn’t consider asking a Plummer, Architect or Doctor.


As content publishers, we share a great deal of our expertise through original and curated posts.

We have websites that details who we are and what we help we provide.

We can also be found on the most popular social media platforms.

Yet I still get asked “What do you do?”

This could be due to a branding failure on my part or a symptom of content shock.

Who has time to sift through hundreds of search results.

Google is rabbit hole.


Free Spec Work


Where do we draw the line between helping someone out with general advice and giving away advice that you normally charge for?

The panel agreed that there is no issue sharing general knowledge, in fact it’s hard to stop us from doing so. 

But it seemed agreed by everyone that:

You give the 'why' and charge for the 'how'.Click To Tweet


View the video replay of our Ray2Go Show Here



If you prefer listening on the go, here’s the Soundcloud version:



We also agreed that it’s very difficult to say “no”.

In her article, No, You Can’t Pick My Brain. It Costs Too Much, Adrienne Graham explains why she resents having requests to pick her brain.

My brain costs money to maintain. There’s training, classes to attend, reading (I have to buy books), gaining certifications, costs of memberships so I can network, attending conferences and mastering my skills that all cost me money. 

I have to protect my investment. How fair is it to me to give away all the knowledge I have acquired that I use to make my living, pay my bills and eat?

Saying “no” is also more difficult if the person making the request is a friend or relative.


How do we handle requests for information that we feel goes beyond what we’re comfortable giving for free?

 On the #RayBunch  how last year:Does Giving it Away for Free Make Me Cheap?”  Jimmie Lanley  left this comment:

“Unless you are a surgeon, you cannot pick my brain.”Click To Tweet

Another Google+ friend and email marketing expert, Stephan Hovnanian added:

“If I ever follow up with the phrase “let’s talk about it so I can get you a quote” then you know the timer’s up” 


Some strategies we can use are:

  • Have your fee schedule handy
  • Keep the advice “light”. Give the “why” not the “how”.
  • Provide links to resources you already published.
  • Link to third party resources
  • Agree to brief video or phone call but not to live meetings unless it’s clear it’s on the clock.

How do you handle requests for free advice?


The video replay of our post-show Blab:

Blab Giving Free Advice

The Soundcloud version:




Other resources I found while researching this topic for the show:

Watch People in Other Industries React Hilariously to Being Asked for Free Spec Work

No, You Can’t Pick My Brain. It Costs Too Much

Does Giving it Away for Free Make Me Cheap?

How to Handle Requests to ‘Pick Your Brain’

Why the RFP fails in digital media buying



Our Ray2Go Show Panel:

Scott Scowcroft – The ScottTreatment: Twitter: @ScottScowcroft

Randy Bowden – Bowden2Bowden marketing & branding virtual consultancy firm:Twitter: @bowden2bowden

Jessica Dewell – A Business Strategist, Consultant, and Speaker: Twitter: @jess_dewell

B.L. Ochman – Google+ Events, Coaching, Digital Strategist:  –  Twitter: @whatsnext

Ray Hiltz – Social Strategist, Google+ Specialist: – Twitter: @rayhiltz

You can view past shows on my YouTube Channel or the audio podcast on Soundcloud.

Subscribe to this weekly newsletter here.

If you have a question about social media or how to produce your own Google or Blab show, contact me at:



About Ray Hiltz

Thanks for dropping by. I'm the Director of Digital Marketing for My background in business includes non-profit (performing arts), restaurants and Promotions. Having moved on from my own strategic consulting company, I now write about what interests me. So in this blog, you may read about my thoughts on marketing, health issues and business culture. You can follow me on Twitter @rayhiltz or @image24Call

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