How much of your expertise should you give away?


Do you ever worry about giving away too much of your expertise for free?  Striking the balance between giving something in order to attract new clients and giving away the farm can be a tricky.  Give away too little and you miss an opportunity to engage with a new prospect. Give too much and you feel taken advantage of. 

So today I’d like to share a 5 ways you can give and get.

1) Don’t work on spec
After 15+ years in talent management I became impervious to the dangling carrot trick.  Clients will sometimes try the “if this works out, there’ll lots more work” line.  Don’t fall for it!  There is a way to politely stand your ground and still get the gig.  Here are a few tried and tested responses I used (and it’s worth noting that many of them came back and agreed to our original proposal).

“I’d love to work with you on this exciting project, but unfortunately I can’t work for less than my rate.  My other clients pay my full rate, so taking this project would mean saying no to one of those projects”

“I understand that you have budgetary parameters and if I’m outside of that range right now, that’s fine. I would be very happy to work with you on future projects when your budget allows”

“I feel certain that my level of expertise would help you achieve your goals much faster than a less experienced creative.  When you feel that this in an investment you’re able to make, I’ll be delighted to work with you”

2) Do negotiate a paid pitch. 
Pitches were made for ad agencies with deep pockets, but that doesn’t mean freelancers and boutique agencies don’t get to participate. When I was repping independent creatives, my approach was to be very transparent and say that we were not in a position to work on a big pitch for free. However, we would be willing to work on the pitch for a fee (say, 10K), with the understanding that if the client selected us, that fee would be absorbed into future fees.  When you suggest something that is clearly fair, clients are surprisingly willing to work with you. 

3) Do offer a free consultation
If you’re good at what you do, the chances are you’ll be asking your clients to be making a fairly significant investment in working with you. A free consultation gives that person a chance to get to know, like and trust you.  I offer a free 20-minute phone consultation to anyone who’s interested in learning more about my services. It’s a great opportunity to learn more about your ideal clients needs and for both parties to see if it’s a good fit.  Remember, the consultation should be about your prospect and come with no strings attached.

4) Do offer something of value to people signing up for your list
We all get so many newsletters, but there’s just not enough hours in the day to read them all.  If you want people to sign up for your list (and you should), and actually read your newsletters, keep 2 things in mind: 

i) The content of your newsletters needs to be consistent and of high value to your audience. 

ii) You might consider offering something of value such as a video, a blueprint, or white paper in return for someone giving you their info.  

5) Do know why you’d give something away for free.
I do lots of stuff for free. I participate in conferences, lead free workshops at co-working spaces and networking groups, and offer free webinars. Why?  Because sharing my knowledge and expertise via other platforms increases my exposure to new ideal clients. Here are 3 important things to keep in mind:

i) The content needs to be just as good as if you were being paid for it.  This is an opportunity to shine, so put your best foot forward.

ii) Be selective.  Choose organizations who share the same values as you, and serve the same clients you do (ideally in large numbers).

iii) Use the opportunity to build your list. Always have a sign up sheet to pass around (make sure there’s a ‘yes, I’d like to hear from you’ box for them to check. It’s called ‘permission marketing’ for a reason!

I hope these tips help you feel good about what you’re sharing and how often.  Get the balance right and you’ll bask in the good-feelings that come from giving AND receiving!

Do you know anyone who could benefit from my free newsletter and video series?  If so, please share this post and nudge them to sign up.


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