I received the follow as part of a newsletter from @ChrisBrogan the other day, and it got me thinking how I charge for my services. I've always said my advice over food and/or drinks was free. Maybe I need to reconsider that. When you give stategic advice over lunch/dinner you're tailoring that adivice to thier business, and it's no longer a one:many conversation. It makes sense that advice meant for a specifice business should be something to charge for. Chris mentions discovery calls/meetings are still free. But after that, it would be appropriate to engage in a working relationship with financial expecations of services to be peformed and result goals.

Human Business Works Newsletter

I've been asked about the whole "when and where do you charge" line quite often. Let me start by saying that my line might not be yours. But let me tell you about how I personally have chosen to parse out where I charge and where I don't.

The Money Making Line

Here's what's free: most everything I know when I dispense it to you in a one-to-many environment, or if it's easy enough to answer in a quick email reply (like when you hit reply to this newsletter).

Here's what's not free: when you ask me lots of specific details that then make the information custom to your business and your revenue, and/or when you need my explicit 1:1 time versus just accepting information in the masses.

Here's what's free: the occasional Skype call to college campuses full of smart people.
Here's what's not free: lunch where you pick my brain.

Here's what's free: discovery calls with prospects.
Here's what's not free: deep dive information requests and details.

Here's what's free: my charity work at my own choice.
Here's what's free: the learnings I offer on my blog and email.

Here's what's not free: writing for your blog or magazine.
Here's what's not free or negotiable: my speaking fee.

Where's Your Line?

It depends what you're doing and what you sell as to where your line should be. If you sell ice cream, maybe it's that little pink spoon worth for free. Maybe it's free for the occasioal in-town event. And then you make it clear where your line is for other points.

There's so much that's tricky about this, though. First, if you move your line or waver on certain things, you're doomed. The moment there's a flutter in what you charge for and what you don't, things get messy. This isn't to say that deals and trades and favors don't happen, but what I see far more often is the random "My fee is $200 an hour, but I'm going to drop it to $100 an hour for you." Why? Did the other person falter? And if so, is your fee based on their emotional reaction?

In my own business model, I give away over 90% of what I do for free. I charge a pretty penny for the rest, and that's because it's very often in that 10% that businesses figure out how to make much more than what I charge from the information I provide. However, I'm always very very very clear on when I'm selling and when I'm not, and this makes a big difference in how people perceive the money making line. 

If your'e interested in subscribing to his newsletter you can do so here: Human Business Works. 

What are your thoughts? When do you charge for your ideas and strategy?