The following was posted on a Facebook group, and I had spent some considerable time drafting my response and felt it would be a good idea to create a blog post about it.

Facebook Question

How do you handle a client asks you for advice about something they aren’t paying you for? Here are two recent examples.

1 – A client I built a website for does have a care plan called about a website question. Sure, no problem, but they proceeded to ask me questions about Social Media. Which I do, but they don’t retain my services. I usually don’t mind helping, and sometimes, yes, it does lead to adding services.

2 – A Website, Care Plan, and PPC client wants “deep dive” data for each landing page they have, attribution for each change, and the impact. I do have some of the info. But, the info I think he wants is more than what he retains me for or that I even have access to.

When do you draw the line between being the helpful neighborhood marketer, to “Sure, I would be happy to help, but this would be a paid consult?

My take

Initial Response

So this was my initial response to the Facebook post, unedited and unfiltered 😉

Create a Paid Consultation or Paid Advice service where the client can book time (15m/30m/1h) with you. Ensure it’s pre-paid to save time. Send a method for the client to dump their questions or action items for the consultation. I use Google docs, and even have a template.

This will help you with random daily questions that eat into productivity. Have it so these are scheduled during a specific time of day. For instance I don’t do these in the morning and only allow them in the afternoon.

If they don’t need 15 minutes, state that’s the minimum, and it’s best to collect questions and then book a time. Stick to a hard stop, and if they need more time, they have to re-book.

It might seem like a pain for them, but it’s more about training them to appreciate that their time and yours are valuable.

Second Response

I know I replied to this before, but here’s an example.

Picture getting 15 of these emails from multiple clients in your inbox; you might get three from one client in a day (shotgun blast emails). You sit down for a couple of hours, if not more, answer their questions, give advice and quote. Half don’t get back to you; the remaining half either ask more questions or say thanks.

So you’ve spent 2-5 hours communicating and providing value for free, with potentially one of those clients paying you.

Instead, what about having them book time to discuss for a fee, it could be 15 minutes or a half hour. You could also have a “paid consultation” service that costs more and provides them with a document with recommendations and action items. You get payment up front, and it’s scheduled.

Additionally, offer a monthly consulting plan allowing them to ask questions, request requests, or book time.

You can still quote or create proposals for free, but if it requires considerable effort, then charge a discovery fee. Boom is another service option to choose from, with details of the offering, value and cost.

A client can better make decision when they’re informed, so having these as services, with specific details of the service, value and pricing helps them to make an informed decision.

It’s not about charging for everything little thing; It’s about having options that are structured, and straightforward for your client to understand and for you to execute.

What works for one person might not work for everyone, but I think the premise I’m explaining here idea helps both sides.