If You’re Gonna Be Self-Employed, Charge for These Two Things

in Business



Time and expertise.

We all say that we charge for our time and that we charge for our expertise, but do you ever wonder if you’re giving away too much, free? Are you ever surprised at how much know-how other people will give away totally free of charge on their blogs? And if they’re giving it away there, they’re giving it away on Quora and LinkedIn and at their local networking meetings and over the phone and by email, too.

I made some mistakes early on by not figuring out in advance what I would charge for and what I would give away free. If you’re new to the self-employment world, start off on the right foot by rightfully charging for the expertise you’ve developed over the years and the time that it takes you to disseminate it.

Patrick Schwerdtfeger talks about three types of content you want to create as a business owner, in his book Marketing Shortcuts for the Self-Employed. He suggest that your beginner and intermediate content can talk about the what and why of your particular focus freely, but the “how” should always be part of advanced content and you should charge for it. Whether you charge for it in the form of an ebook, a consultation, a seminar, a webinar – whatever you decide – it needs to come with a price tag.

After reading from that book, here are some things I’ve committed to doing:

  • Categorizing content into beginner, intermediate, and advanced levels
  • Creating a range of advanced content, starting with something as low as $10 (such as an ebook) that will answer common questions
  • Paying attention to when I’m giving away advice that should be charged for. Taking notes is the first step to dealing with it

What I’ve Learned Since January 2010

I’ve lost out on a lot of money over the past year and a half as a self-employed person. The thought doesn’t even cross my mind to suggest to someone that they set up a consultation with me for my expertise. Schwerdtfeger suggests not playing the hourly charge game and instead creating packages with set fees that are based on the value being delivered. I’m guilty of giving away too much free advice and also playing the hourly charge game.

I’ve definitely learned some hard lessons but also learned some good ones. One time, with a brand new client, I put together a proposed list of packages based on her needs. At the last minute, I decided to add another one – this one was three times the cost of the others but also provided that much or more in value. What do you think happened?

She chose that new package – the one that cost three times more than the others. That pleasant surprise taught me a lot about why we need to focus on creating the best possible services for our target markets and value (price) them highly, rather than trying to find the balance between what we think they can afford and the very least we can make to still afford groceries.

Would love to get your thoughts on this. Is it too late to stop giving out free advice? What do you do, just ignore requests? Tell people to take a number? :) Share your experiences!

Image: Ambro