Why I Dumped the Free Consult

Cringing a bit, I scrolled through my Evernotes (I like using it as a noun!) and counted the number of free consultations I’ve done since 2012.

At least 10. (Yes, at least. Still too cringe-worthy to go back and look at specifics on my spreadsheet.)

So if you look at my new service offerings, I’ve lost at least $1,500. And many of those consults didn’t lead to new clients (Ouch!)

That’s a lot of Cheesecake Factory dinners I could have had.

Once I began working on my first series of freebies for my website, I knew I would have to say sayonara to free consults. I just didn’t realize how much expertise I was giving away.

Ash Ambirge of The Middle Finger Project put it so simply and eloquently:

Your business isn’t going to make money itself. If you need to charge money, charge it. And if you need to take back your time, take it.

Truly, it’s her mentorship that spurred me to throw out the free consults. There is so much time and expertise that goes into these consultations. Here’s the lowdown on my “Mind Meld” consults:

Pre-Consult

  • I will send you a pre-consultation survey to discover your needs.
  • This  gives me an opportunity to go over every part of your online presence. Yep, I check all of them and take notes before I even meet with you.

During Consult

  • Super-fun interview: I’m a journo by training and former trade, so I’m keen on asking questions. A lot of them. Be prepared.
  • Note-taking continues: We will have a brain-to-brain (along with a possible heart-to-heart) about what needs to take place in your business, whether it be changes in your content or social media strategy. You name it, we can talk about it.

Post-Consult

  • Extensive details: What changes you need to make based on our conversation. You get yourself a plan of action!
  • Next steps: Suggestions on how to move forward if you need referrals or more help from me.

This is why I embrace the title administrative consultant. Because sometimes, well, I will just consult. (But please don’t call me a coach. I’m really out of shape, and that term screams “athleticism,” which I don’t have one ounce of at the moment.)

Sometimes you need to use your own voice to change the content. Or you need to hire a web designer. Or a masseuse. (I’m seriously considering a housekeeper.)

So, there you have it. I think it’s a worthwhile change, and I definitely encourage you to hit me up if you are interested in a Mind Meld. I’m so excited.

Are you doing free consultations? Have you considered offering something else? Talk to me in the comments.

9 thoughts on “Why I Dumped the Free Consult”

  1. Willi, I’m a little curious about this. I don’t know many clients you can get without a free initial discussion about what they want. I do cut it off at 30 minutes max…but maybe you’re talking about something else? Have you been giving out more extensive free consults? If so, agree with your decision to stop doing that. 😉

  2. YAY!A comment from Carol! I was doing all of the above for free. :-/ I tried to keep them under 30 minutes but they usually were pushing an hour.

  3. Yeah, Willi, I suspect we all get sucked into initial consultations that lead to nothing.

    I had several myself around January time.

    I guess, as you become more experienced, you learn to distinguish users and time-wasters from serious prospects.

    In other words, this is just one of many business skills you have to learn to master.

    1. That is a skill to master indeed. In fact, I’m glad now I post prices and share with potential clients, because it weeds out folks looking for something cheap.

      This is also a reason I’m offering this, too. I want to help folks and offer it at a price point that doesn’t hurt your wallet but still offers value.

  4. Williesha this is a really good article. It sounds like you know your stuff. I’m a newbie freelance writer, and you can find me over at the Den.

    One of the first lessons I am learning is to charge what I am worth, so I agree with the direction you are taking.

    I certainly don’t have enough experience to do consults. All I do is write at this time. But we do have getting paid what we are worth in common.

    I’m glad you are discovering ways to weed out time wasters and penny pinchers.

    1. Thank you! Part of my job is to do administrative work and consults, in case they want to go in a different direction. I am glad to hear that you are in the Den and that you are getting paid what you’re worth. Gives me hope! Thanks for stopping by.

  5. Totally agree on not doing a free consult.

    Nice post!

    Biggest thing for me right now is generating traffic. Do you use any strategies other than content marketing? Curious to hear your answer.

    Rob

    1. Oh, that’s a good question. The biggest thing for me is commenting on popular blogs and doing guest posts. I usually have a huge traffic spike and subscribers from doing that. I also try to share my post on appropriate networking groups.

      The key is to be useful but not spammy. I don’t always post every single blog into a certain group.

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