Today’s episode is about how to stop giving away your time for free

If you are like most of the clients I work with, you help people. You get immense pleasure from helping people get results which is why most of my clients are coaches, service providers or consultants.

But there is a flip side to this helpfulness that gets such great results for your clients.


It can be extremely difficult, especially for the first few years, to create boundaries around your accessibility and to stop giving your time away for free.

I know this because it is something I struggled with for years and it wasn’t until my friend Sharon said “Stop giving away your expertise for coffee and cocktails, you are a consultant” that I realised what I was doing.

So, to help you stop giving away your time for free, I’ve got 10 ways for you to reclaim your value below.

Plus today’s podcast episode goes into more details, with a few stories thrown in.

You can watch the video, listen to the audio, download from the podcast directory, or read the transcript below.
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10 Ways To Stop Giving Away Your Time For Free

1. Do an honest Audit: what are you giving away for free

When you do a totally honest audit the results may surprise you. Think of this as “Free Creep”. You may originally only think about the obvious “pick your brain for coffee”. But then, the less obvious things may happen. For example, doing extra work outside of a brief for a client without them even knowing how much more work that involves. They don’t even realise they are exploiting you because you never set the boundaries. Or you may be giving free coaching via email when an exchange of question and answer starts to get a bit long.

2. Ask Yourself: what are personally getting out of giving away your time?

This can be a tough one because it takes personal insight and brutal personal honesty. Here are a few examples: You get to feel needed, you get the reward of martyrdom (the dark side of being helpful), you get to avoid asking for the sale. Told you this one was tough J

3. Stop being so available

If your advice and expertise is core to the programs and services you provide, then making that expertise too available reduces its value. If people know they can always get you on the phone, always get personal replies to emails asking for advice etc then why on Earth would they pay you for your time?

4. Use an online booking system

Set yourself up with a professional system to book people in for sales calls and paid consultations that takes you and your time out of the loop. Using an online scheduling platform makes it so much more efficient for both you and your client (or potential client). Plus, the one I recommend has a free level so you can look and act like a pro, even with a small budget.

5. Be Clear on Your Boundaries

Take it from a mother of teenagers, if you are not clear on your boundaries they will be exploited…even by the nicest people. They usually aren’t setting out to be disrespectful, it’s because they think you are okay with giving your time for free. And here’s another insight from the trenches of motherhood…..people are happier when they are super clear on what your boundaries are. That’s because most people actually DON’T want to exploit you and want to be clear on what is for sale and what is not.

6. Ditch the free consult

If you are using “Free Consult” as part of your marketing and sales strategy, I urge you to reconsider this. That’s because it says 2 messages:

  1. Your time has low value
  2. You aren’t honest, because we all know free consults are really sales calls in disguise.

Instead be open. Let them know they can book in for a phone meeting to see what help they need and how you can help them. You can promise them they’ll get great insights on the call, even if you both decide you don’t have a way to help them at the moment. That way they know you respect their time too.

7. Only get your profitable avatar on the phone

If you are converting new clients by phone, then make sure you only make your time available to the people who are likely to be your customers. You do this by ensuring your marketing is consistently targeted to your most profitable avatar (the person who you can help and who is most motivated to pay) and you are very clear what the purpose of the telephone call is (see point 6 above).

8. Use pre-qualifying questions

In some cases you may want to ask a few qualifying questions before people can confirm a time to book for a telephone call with you. An example is if people are interested in one of your higher priced programs or they are asking for a proposal discussion for a service you provide.

If they DON’T fit the criteria to be accepted into the program, or be a company you likely would write a proposal for, then you can contact them and cancel the meeting (in a kind and respectful way of course). After all, you don’t want to waste their time either. I do this for people who apply to find out more about my Rising Stars Coaching Program.

9. Always think how your paying clients will feel (or future ones).

This was a game changer for me. Once I started thinking about how a high paying client would feel if she knew I was giving away my time for free, when she has paid good money for access to me and my brain, then I became so much clearer on my boundaries.

And if you don’t have any high paying clients yet (however you define them), create an imaginary one for yourself and think about how your imaginary friend will feel.

You might find this post on 2 reasons high ticket clients change their minds over here.

10. Have freebies so you can always help, without exchanging time

Saying no is always hard if you are a person who loves to help. And let’s face it, most people who are coaches, service providers and consultants, come from a place of loving to help.

So it is easier to say no if you can offer them a consolation prize or gift at the same time. That’s why creating great free content via blog posts, podcasts, videos and list –building down-loadables is such a strategic thing to do (as well as essential to creating your leadership platform).

The Last Word

My challenge to you is to take the first steps today and start with Step 1 from the list above and do an honest audit of what you are giving away for free. Listen / watch / read the podcast episode on this page because I go into more details (and a few stories) to help you reclaim your time and value.

If you have friends who you know would benefit from this post please share with them, or even better use one of the share buttons on this page.

I’d love to hear from you, after all, I get a lot of personal value from helping (see point 2 above) and hearing your feedback means a lot to me.


Janet Beckers

Read The Transcript Here

Hello and welcome! Janet Beckers here and today we have very special episode of Romance Your Tribe Radio because we are talking about a topic dear to my heart and that is giving away your time for free. And I’m gonna be sharing with you today, ten different ways that you can stop giving away your time for free without having to offend people while you’re doing that. So we’re gonna cover those ten steps and the ones that I share with my clients all the time in fact that’s one of the very first things we do when we start working together. And it’s one of the things that I had to learn the hard way and I don’t want you to make the mistakes that I did of really devaluing what I had to offer people and gave away too much for free. So what does it look like? You know I didn’t even realize that I was giving away my expertise for free. You might be in a situation if you find that you are spending time where you’re giving people advice, you’re letting them pick your brain and you are swapping your expertise for coffee or cocktails. If that is happening to you, stop it right now. It was a real eye opener for me when one of my girlfriends said “you know what, you just gave two hours worth of consulting for a couple of cocktails. Really why did you do that.” I didn’t think that I had a consulting business. I’ve got a coaching business crockery and it’s an art gallery.

I just want to use my voice because I’ve learned so much from building an online business. That’s when she said “Yes, you are giving away your expertise. You’re a consultant. Either you make the decision that you’re going to be a consultant and start charging for it, or stop giving away everything for cocktails”. There you go. So if that’s happening to you, recognize that this is gonna hold you back in your business for a long time. You need to stop it now.

So what are the very first things that I found that I was doing when I did end up taking that advice and realizing actually I have really enjoyed doing this, so, let’s build a business around it. So when I started my consulting business and it’s had numerous forms since then. When I first started it, I had little office because I decided to move out of my home office, I need to take myself a bit more seriously and it was just me. So I was the person answering the phone and I really enjoyed it because I’d answer the phone, I’d really get to know all these potential customers and new customers, we talk for ages on the phone. You know, I made some really really good friendships through that way. But I’ll tell you what it didn’t convert very easily to sales, of course sometimes it did. But really our family was quite often having conversations with the same people that there was only money changing hands here.

Now, this is gonna be one of the things that we’re going to look at, how do you snap out of that and what can you do instead. Now if you’re doing this, this is, you know, you could be giving away free consults that might be one of the things that you doing all the time, you might be saying to people “Well you know, I’m spending some time with them. This is a free consult it’s going to lead to a smile“. I can tell you now that if you are using the model of giving away free consultations with the intention of it leading to a sound if you do not have any kind of system around that, it is not going to end up in your business. It’s all it is a free consult. It is giving your time away for free. OK, so I can convinced you that this is something for you worth looking at, OK. So now let’s dive into 10 different ways that you can stop giving your time away for free. So I’m gonna get my list here so I make sure I don’t miss anything.

Number one is you would have taken orders before you can even decide “I cannot give you my time away for free.” You need to be very clear on what you are giving away for free. Are you giving away consultations? Are you meeting people for coffee to say “oh yes sure let’s get together. You know, I can give you some advice so we can to get to meeting always.” You’re meeting people for coffee if you’re doing it, you’ve got to stop this. If you’re sending people lots of really really good resources, things that people perhaps cannot pay for but you know it’s gonna help them say you give it to them. If people are you picking up the phone and talking to people and then taking that time to answer a lot of their questions, take an audit first say exactly what it is where you’re giving away your time and your expertise for free. It might take you a few days to do this because you think you’ve got your list and then you’ll have an aha. When got to do something and you realize “Oops! I’m doing it again”. So take your orders, that’s step number one.

Now, step number two, you’ll be honest with yourself. What are you getting out of it personally? What is your reward? Just be totally honest here. I know for me every single time that I give free advice and consultation with people, I could see what help they needed and I was able to help them. The big buzz that I got from that is, number one I felt really valued. I was able to help people so it was kind of feeding my name to be valued. And I also felt significant. I was showing them more just showing them. I was being perceived by them as a person of significance because I had a way of helping. So that’s me being totally totally transparent. I probably wouldn’t have acknowledged it back then but be totally honest with you. So what do you get out of it? If you find helping people incredibly satisfying, awesome. You’re perfect to be in a Coaching Consulting Service sort of business. But if you’re just going to keep on giving it away for free, you don’t know a business. OK. So that’s number two, be totally honest with yourself when you look at that audit, what are you getting out of it because you need to let that go. We need to replace that. So let’s have a look at that.

Now the first thing is once you decide that you are going to stop giving away your time for free, you don’t need to stop being so available. This was a hard step for me to put in place someone tell you what when I did it absolutely freaked me out. So, if you are a person who’s answering the phone and somebody is wanting to get some advice from you or you’re thinking I can really help them you can say “look I don’t have time at the moment to be able to give you the help that you need. Would you like to schedule a time and then we can have a talk about the best ways that I can help you. You’re not saying we get on the phone and also the problem you’re talking about the best ways I can help you.” So you can let them know that actually your time has value and they are not, you can’t give them all the help. Now quickly get them over onto a scheduled call so they have boundaries around what you are doing. Move them over to that special meeting as quickly as you can. Even better, if you can get away with not answering phones get somebody else to answer. If you, if they then have to say “I’m sorry, Janet Becker is busy at the moment. Can I schedule a meeting for you?” They’re gonna value your time a lot more. So either way it works, make sure it is valued.

I’ve got a special link for you. This is the next one. Don’t do that scheduling yourself. Don’t say to them “OK! Let’s make a time.” So this is step number four. Don’t make a Don’t Say Say let’s make the time. Are you free on Friday or whatever it is. You can say to them “Now my calendar gets pretty full and I’m sure yours does too. So I’m gonna give you a special link that may e-mail it to you or you might even be on and just say what the you are at least and this will give you access to my calendar so you can find a time that suits you.” That way you are not positioning yourself as the person who is the administrator. You are the person whose time they come in to come in and they’re gonna value. And also, it’s crazy for you to be spending all of your time trying to workout calendar stuff, that is crazy, not when there are automated systems and a lot of those are for free. So I’ve got a link down for you below to the system that I use. I’ve got a link there to a post that I’ve got where I talk about all the different ways that it works and you can see behind the scenes on how I use it. So if you can have a look at the program that we use online that will really help you absolutely save you so much time and make it look like a total pro.

Number five, when you do get the phone with people, be absolutely clear on what the call is about. Now there’s many people for coffee ok because you got time traveling they coming back becomes something that could be a 15 minute meeting for two hours. So when you are there you say “This is the amount of time that we’ve got so you let them know Oh, we’ve got 30 minutes, what we’re going to be talking about is this. So it could be to find out what your big problems are and I’m going to help you to work out if I can help you. And the why is it I’ve got to help you.” So it’s very very different to saying “Tell me what the problems are and yea, yea, sure I can help there, I can give you this advice.” Completely different way. So you are letting them know that there are boundaries on what you can talk about and boundaries around how much time you’ve got.

Now, number six. Ditch the free consult. Don’t tell people that “Let’s hop on the phone and I’ll give you a free consultation.” If you pitch it off as free, you’re pitching so the low rent and people are not going to respect your time. And at the same time have you ever believed that when somebody said “I’ll give you a free consultation and you didn’t have the back of you mind cyclical North-South cycle. And I think and so me and I think in a pinch me. I really don’t know if I want to take that free consultation.” Have you ever been in that situation? C’mon. You know that’s happening in the back of your mind. So just tell people “We’ll get on the phone and I will say if I have a way to help you”, let them know that this is not free consultation. This is you, working out which of your products, services, programs whatever it is, is going to be the best solution for them. So you’re letting them know that. Just be totally clear up front people, people are actually really really respectful of your honesty.

Now, this is the next one. If you’re gonna get on the phone with people and this is people who are at the moment have approached you because they’re wanting to pick your brain, get some free free help. If you’re gonna get on the phone with them, the reason you’re going to get on the phone is because you get to see if they can become a client of yours. That’s got to be the best way that you can help them. You’re not gonna be able to solve all the problems in 30 minutes, if they’ve got big problems that need your help. They’re gonna take longer, OK. So you only want to get people that you’re on the phone with, likely gonna be your ideal customers that you can help them and that they’re gonna be able to pay to be able to get helped. So make sure you only get your most profitable Avatar on the phone but profitable Avatar that’s the person who really needs you and also is motivated enough to pay you for that. Now to make sure you get your most profitable Avatar on the phone is really a whole process to do with your messaging, to make sure that your messaging, all of your marketing is only targeted at those people. Now that’s a bigger process. And if you’re finding that you’re often getting people on the phone who just are not your clients you need to look at your marketing messaging because that’s where the problem is if you need help with that, that’s my specialty. I love doing that, I’m making it so you get aligned we have special exercise that we do. I’ve never seen it elsewhere from the exercise I’ve developed in our programs to really help you with your profitable Avatar. We have a profitable Avatar corporate exercise so you get super clear on not just who needs here but who’s motivated. And we match all of your marketing leads to that point. You really should very very have few people are ever going to turn up on those calls that are not profitable Avatar. So really really look at that.

Number eight, if you have a big ticket or a few this might be 500 dollars. It might be a few thousand, 10000, 20, 30, 40, hundred whatever it is. If you have a big ticket item for your business, you might be thinking “Well, I know that there are certain people that are not going to be able to afford this program.” So you don’t want to waste your time on a special call that is going to waste their time as much as yours because they can’t afford it or then they’re not the right people for it. So what I suggest you do in your heart tech once when you get it you want to talk about if they’re going to be rough the program is have some qualifying questions. So not only you’re not giving your time away for free now, you’re only gonna get on the phone with people who are very very likely to be able to say yes to working with you. I do this for people when they are expressing an interest in joining my rising stars coaching program. They’ve already got all the information on the program. They just need to talk to me to see what the investment is and if it’s right for them and if they want it is because not everybody gets accepted. So before people can even book that call, I have a series of qualifying questions. Now the last part is the program that I will link down to below that I use for scheduling all of our calls and that you can get. Also, allows you to decide if you can ask questions before they can even book. So that’s really really super cool.

Now, here comes the last two points because we’ve talked about here just the strategies and what we’re going to do. But the other thing that’s going to happen is you don’t sabotage here if you don’t get the mindset part right. And so I have two ways here to help you.

This is step number nine, think about if you have a high paying. So somebody who pays for your time, pays for your attention or your special service and you don’t have them. Now how would they feel if they find out that you spent half an hour or an hour or more giving free advice free service to somebody, you know, how are they gonna feel. I mean that is pretty angry. If I was paying somebody for that and then I found out they’re giving what I was paying or paying for they are giving it away for free. Now you might go “Well I haven’t got any like that yet.” I want you to think about your future clients. So really really visualize this wonderful person who you have, who is paying you for what you’re worth and you’re giving them their attention, you’re their your focus. How is that future client gonna feel if they find out that you’re giving your time away for free. So if you are not gonna be doing it for yourself, do it for them. Because the thing is if you do have a paying client, they gonna find it and you put that you’re giving information away for free, they’re gonna feel incredibly devalued. And the last point in that is you are going to have people that you know that you can help but really they’re not in a position to pay you. And I’m not talking here about the few cases that you might do pro bono. I’m talking here about people in general, they just might not be at a point where they’re motivated enough yet to even take action and do something that’s not their top priority but they still want some help or they just don’t have the finances or for some other reason they’re not ready to be able to make the most of what you’ve got. But you know you can help them. That’s when you free resources come in. That’s why I create this podcast because I know not every person can work with me but when I’m working with my clients classically we go through this, you know, I give them scripts on how to use or show them, you know, here’s exactly the questions that I ask when I’m pre-qualifying you use the eyes but I know that not everybody can afford to work with me or at this stage where they’re ready to. So this is my way, when somebody comes to me saying you know that they might have this problem I can say look I’ve got a great podcast and a blog post for you that’s really going to help you. So giving away something that’s gonna give for free means that you’re not really saying no. You can say “I have got some resources for you. I only have a limited time that I can actually spend on the phone with people or in person helping them.” So that’s your last step there as well think about the people who are paying you and then have something to give to the people that you know can’t afford yet or aren’t ready for whatever it is that you’re offering.

So I hope that helps you, this ten steps there that’s gonna help you to stop giving away your time for free and start valuing yourself and letting you put boundaries around your availability around your time and around your intellectual property, so that your potential clients are going to see the true value that you offer and be very very willing to be able to invest in your help and the people who were never going to invest with you anyway can go and use your free resources and not tap into your energy and your intellectual property. I really do hope that that helps you. If you come over to the blog post, if you’re listening to this on iTunes for example, if you come here on the blog post and just leave your comments or any questions that you’ve got down below. Is this something that you have had a challenge with? I would love to hear from you. And do you still have a challenge with it, and do you have any I have a little things that you can help other people who will be out viewing that page. Yeah they can help them as well. So share your expertise and your experience as well would be wonderful. And you’ll also see on this page I’ve got a link there for you from behind the scenes on the software that I use to do my online bookings and manage my calendar. There’s a free little of it and the rest of it’s really reasonably priced so you can see behind the scenes how I use it and you don’t check it out. And it’s very very simple for you to get started. OK. Bye.

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