Answering the question of how much should I give away for free is always a tricky one for entrepreneurs and small business people. This is especially so for people who provide services. Often you will be asked, “Do you have just a couple minutes to talk to me? Can we get on the phone? I want to ask you a couple questions.” These are great opportunities and you should be excited to talk to people. However, it can be very easy to get on the phone and end up giving away too much of your time and expertise. Those couple of minutes can quickly turn into 2 hours and instead of answering a few questions you’ve helped them come up with part of their strategic plan.

However, this shouldn’t make you avoid giving away some of your time altogether. You should just to be strategic about it. I like to think of these giveaways as samples. You know how when you go into to a chocolate store and they give you that yummy sample and you think “that was great I’m going to buy some”. There is a reason they give that free sample. Sometimes all people need is a little “taste” to know they are making a good buying decision. That’s how you should think of free content. It’s a yummy sample for potential clients to get a “taste” of who you are, what you offer and why working with you is the right answer for them. But you need to remember that just like the chocolate store you aren’t given away a whole box of chocolate. You’re just giving a “taste”. There’s a big difference.

There are many ways to give those free samples. Let’s look at a few of them. First off… you’re reading one of them right now, a blog.

Start a Blog

Blogs are a great way to highlight your experience, your wisdom, your expertise and to share you who you are and what you offer. You can take your readers on a journey that builds a relationship with them as they get to know you. Blogs don’t have to be every day but they probably should be once a week, so that you show some consistency and people get used to seeing you and hearing your message points. Blogs can cover a variety of topics but should mostly stick to the core of what you offer.

Blogs don’t have to become a daunting task. They don’t have to become all-consuming or keep you locked into being available to post and promote them at a certain time. Here are some blog tips to make the process easier for you.

  • Schedule posts in advance using automation tools. So, you write your posts when it works into your schedule and then they show up on your site when you want them to.
  • Use automation to promote your posts on your social media. This works the same as posting on your site. You do it when you have time, not at a certain time.
  • Find the right web partner to handle the design and management of your website. My partner and blog contributor, Cosmital Designs, handles this automation for me. Saving me a ton of time!

Blogs allow you to dialogue with a wider group of people. You can reach far more potential clients with one blog post then making phone calls or in-person meetings. And they only take up one chunk of your time to write the post that will be seen by many. So, consider blogging as a way to give more people a “taste” of what you have to offer.

30-minute free consultations

Another great sample idea is to offer 30-minute free consultations via the phone. It is important to do these over the phone so that you aren’t spending time traveling to and from in-person meetings. This will cut into your work day less and allow you to fit more than one of these into a day. During these calls, you should gain a quick understanding of the biggest problem they need help with and offer them a taste of how you can help them with a solution. Here are some key rules that you should follow when doing a 30-minute free consultation.

  • You must stick to the 30-minute rule don’t let 30 minutes creeping to an hour. You’re costing yourself time and money when you do that. This 30-minute call is about giving them again a taste not a whole box of chocolate.
  • Don’t tell them every idea you have. You’re not going to have time in 30 minutes to do that, and you don’t want to do that. Listen to what their issues and challenges are and then tell them about the one thing that you think might be most helpful to them. Mention the others if you have them but don’t elaborate. This will leave them wanting more.
  • Always have an offer for them at the end of the call. Remember you are in business to make money, support your family, and build your dreams. You aren’t hard selling them just giving them an offer.

Public Speaking

The third way to give a “taste” of what you do is through public speaking. Make it known to your network that you are willing to speak at networking meetings, workshops, and other business events. Here are some basic steps for success.

  • Come up with a few topics that align with what you offer. Your blog posts can be a great source of topics for you. Make sure your topic appeals to the group. You won’t give the same talk everywhere.
  • Keep it to the time allowed. Usually, these aren’t more than 20 – 30 minutes. So, don’t be intimidated thinking you must do an in-depth talk. And remember, you are going to be talking about what you know and love to do. So, speak from your heart.
  • Give the audience tips and tidbits that they can use. Show them what hiring you would bring them. Go to the events and let yourself and what you offer shine.
  • Make a special offer for people who are in attendance. This can be a special price on a service. One of your free consultations. A book you have written or love. Consider a giveaway. Collect business cards to do a drawing.
  • Send out a follow up to all the people that provided a business card and remind them of your special offer. You can also use this list to connect with them on social media. Tina Torres, The Gratitude Specialist, and blog contributor will be offering lots of great follow up tips in the weeks to come.

As you can see from these 3 ways, you can give away free content and make it work for you. You can reach more potential clients without spending hours “helping” people for free. Give them a try and see what works for you.

By: Amy Matthews, CEO, AMI LC