In a recent blog, I identified the signs that you're giving away too much free information in your business. This is something I struggled with enormously when I started out. There's this huge misconception that we have to give give give in order to gain clients, but as a natural giver I gave to the extreme and it was business suicide. I was giving and not receiving.
We've all heard the phrase, "Why buy the cow when you can get the milk for free." That's the premise here. Why would someone pay for your services when you are giving your best advice without charging for it?
While it's crucial for us to showcase our expertise to the world, it's equally as important to convert those interested readers and viewers into paying clients so they can truly benefit from the great work you do. What's the alternative? Receiving umpteen time-consuming messages from randoms who ask questions and aim to get the information they are seeking without putting their hands in their pockets.
In short, we need to strike a balance between showcasing the highlights of our services while also charging a set dollar figure for the real meat.
Many established consultants and coaches in the digital space have different price points worked into their business model, from the high-end one-on-one programs, to the medium-range group options, to the no-brainer mini-deals like a one-hour session. This ensures that prospects are able to select from a range of services based on their price point, recognizing that we are all working with different budgets.
But if you have all of these elements in place and it's still not working -- and you've read my recent blog and agree that you are giving away too much for free -- here are four steps you can use to rectify the situation. All tried and tested by yours truly!
Create an application process for free sessions
Instead of allowing anyone to book a free session with you, have interested parties place an application where they answer qualifying questions. This empowers you with information and places you in a position of choosing whether or not you wish to gift your time to this prospect.
Now, this isn't some Jedi mind trick to make you seem important or in-demand. It's about respecting your time and weeding out people who have no interest in buying from you. And that's not to say those without the budget are not welcome - but perhaps there are better resources for them, like your free training videos or your informative blog posts. But giving constant free sessions that result in zero clients is absolutely exhausting and demoralizing for you. It's not helping.
Set your limits
To run a tight ship and ensure you're being compensated fairly in your business, you need house rules (something I talked about in this HuffPost blog). For example, if you've given a free consult to someone several months ago, and they are still contacting you to ask questions under the guise of "I'm thinking about it," that's a relationship you need to nip in the bud. Spoiler alert: that person isn't going to cough up the dough. It's time to cut them loose.
You also need to set boundaries around your pro bono work. It's important for us to give back, and this is something I feel very fortunate to be able to do, but you can't give back when you have nothing to begin with. And as for people asking for "pro bono" work when they are a registered for-profit business (i.e. not a charitable organization)? That's so offensive I don't even know where to start.
Check your self-worth
What's the reason you're giving away so much for free? Are you trying to prove your worth? Are you "starting out" and don't feel worthy of asking for payment for your services? Or do you have a bad case of people pleasing (if so, I know this one well)? Figure this out, and you're almost there. Some quick fixes are as follows.
If you're new to business and you have a day job that supports you financially, then yes you may need a grace period when you do work for free in order to build up your client base, obtain testimonials and generally hone your craft, but you must have a cut-off point and a set date when you will start charging for your services. If it's more around self-worth and people-pleasing, speak to a coach or a counsellor about what's really going on there. The way we operate in our personal lives is inextricably linked to how we run our business, so it's essential that you figure out what's going on to enable your business to soar.
Work on your mindset around money
This was huge for me. And yet a year ago (when I was flat broke, I might add), I thought this was a load of woo-woo BS. But just like in personal development, we often find ourselves stuck because of old stories that repeat themselves. If you find yourself saying "There's never enough money" or "I'm always broke," are you really surprised it's becoming a self-fulfilling prophecy? You're basically Teflon for money - nothing sticks. Instead, focus on what you do have, and be grateful for it. "I'm grateful for my home." "I'm grateful for the $500 in my bank account." "I'm grateful for my regular bi-weekly pay cheque of $1,200." This isn't about BS-ing yourself. It's about focusing on the good stuff so you can attract more of it, rather than repel the very thing you so badly want.
You do great work. And you deserve to be compensated for it.
My general rule of thumb? If someone should be paying for it, don't give it away for free.
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