What I am about to tell you will go against almost every fiber of goodness in your body, it will challenge your beliefs, and may shock you… but according to my experiences, it is largely correct.
Here is the thing… over the years I have tried to stand out of the crowd by being two things:
1) A little outrageous
2) Someone who will go out of their way to help others…. for FREE
I try and reply to virtually every email I receive, and unlike most other people in the industry, I don’t hire someone to do this for me. I don’t have ads on my site (not even adsense), I don’t do paid blog reviews
I almost always give detailed advice and information to people, and I NEVER charge the people that ask for help.
I always go out of my way and use a lot of my time to educate and encourage other webmasters.
But do you know what…
I have been making a huge mistake!
Here is why…
When you try and help someone for free, they subconsciously assign a perceived value of your help, information and time as ZERO.
My girlfriend’s brother is a prime example of this… he is great with cars and great at repairing stuff. A lot of family members and friends are always keen to ask him to fix their stuff… and he always does it for free.
What a nice lad, I bet they are so greatful.
No, they are not!
They may show gratitude at the time, but over time, they start to expect it to be for free, they start to take advantage of him, and sometimes to the point where they are subconsciously seeing no value in him spending all weekend fixing their cars.
Still not convinced… how about this then:
I received a copy of a product that is about to hit the market. The product is selling for over $400 and I managed to get a free copy.
However, on that same day I received a book from Amazon that I had ordered. It cost me just over $10
Can you guess which one I read last night?
Yes, you guessed it… the $10 Amazon book.
I wasn’t even overly interested in the book to be honest, but I read it from cover to cover. Why? Because I paid $10 for it. The other one was FREE.
It may have had a real world value of $400, but I got it for free, so subconsciously it was worthless to me.
Does this make any sense?
It is the same with any product or service.
Aged 10 I used to buy 5 or 6 video games per year, I had a paper delivery round to pay for them. I pretty much spent the time and completed every single one of those games, even the rubbish ones.
However, later in life I discovered (allegedly) that you can get games for free via the Internet. Can you guess what % of the games I own I have spent more than 2 hours playing?
Probably less than 5% of them.
They were free, it doesn’t matter that they are $70 in the shops. My head values them as FREE.
But what if you want to give something back? What if you want to do a good deed?
Well, in my line of work I am lucky enough to spend time with some of the biggest names in the industry. I learn from these people and see them as mentors. One of the things these people tell me is to give something back. Donate some of your time, perhaps even some of your money.
I get this, I agree with it, and I am happy to help.
But here is the thing… you try giving away something of true value on the Internet. It is bloody hard!
As soon as you mention that you are willing to help people for free, they suspect your motives.
“Oh, there must be a catch”
“I bet there will be a hard sell”
“Why would you share this info for free?”
Do you know what… It is easier to convince someone to give you $500 for an hour of your time than it is to convince someone you genuinely want to help them… for FREE.
What’s more, it helps avoid the time wasters.
You see, if I help someone and donate hours of my time to setting a website up for them, do you know what will happen? They WON’T take any action.
But, if I charge them for my time, you can be damn sure they will take action.
It is incredible!
There was a time many years ago when I was looking for some work online, I would speak to people and offer my services, but generally I had very few offers.
Since then my time has become very valuable, so much so that I created a page saying that my buzz marketing services are fully booked.
Guess what… since telling people that no money in the world could tempt me to work for them, I have started receiving regular job offers.
This is due to value, and percieved value.
Now my time is seen as valuable, but when I used to email people for a job, my time was seen as worthless.
So do me a favour… if I ever ask you to take lots of time to help me out with something… please charge me for your time.
Dean (The unlucky Samaritan)
PS: a wise business man once said “you have to value your time before anyone else will”. So if you go around doing stuff for free, people will value your time as zero.
PPS: if you do work for free, YOU will also start to feel that your time is not worth much. Be very careful!