[Q&A] Dear Client, I Am Not a Free Tutorial

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In today’s question, Simon says, “I’m getting really annoyed with people asking me how to do things rather than paying me to do them for them. How do I tell clients they’ll need to pay me to do things or look it up online and not use me as a tutorial instead?” Interesting question, Simon. Clay and I have some answers for you!

Key Takeaways from this Episode:


  • Clear communication is crucial when clients seek free advice, balancing professionalism with helpfulness.
  • Categorizing clients into tiers based on payment and needs helps tailor your response effectively.
  • Politely decline free advice requests, emphasizing your expertise and offering alternative solutions.
  • Set boundaries between friendship and professional expertise to ensure fair compensation.
  • Create resource pages on your website to address common questions and demonstrate your expertise.

Episode Transcript

This transcript was auto-generated and may have grammatical errors.

00:01.32
Preston Lee:
Today’s question—I’m laughing because what you guys may not know is that I don’t send these questions to Clay ahead of time. So I know these questions, but Clay does not know these questions ahead of time. Today’s question comes from Simon. Simon, Simon. Simon says, “How? That’s funny. Simon says I’m getting really a lot of people asking me how to do things, rather than paying me to do them for them. How do I tell clients they’ll need to pay me to do things or else look it up online and not use me as a tutorial?” So interesting question from Simon. You can be right back with Clay.

00:32.17
Clay Mosley:
Yeah.

00:36.91
Preston Lee:
And we will do our best to answer his question.

00:43.50
Preston Lee:
All right, Clay. Do you ever get, ah, people asking you how to do stuff and not expecting to pay you for some of your knowledge? I know some freelancers experience this. Clearly, Simon is like fed up with this. He’s like, “I’m tired of being the free tutorial guy.”

00:54.64
Clay Mosley:
Oh yeah, yep, this happens to everybody, every single creative freelancer. Every single one. Um, I think it’s the, um, I think it’s the audience he’s dealing with, to be honest. There’s a, well, like, so if you—we’ll just call them tier 1, tier 2—so tier 1 audience, they’re paying not a whole lot, right? We’ll just throw some numbers out there.

01:13.71
Preston Lee:
Um, why do you say that?

01:28.24
Clay Mosley:
Maybe they might be paying $1000, but that thousand dollars is a big, big, big, big chunk of money to them, which is fine.

01:28.94
Preston Lee:
I, yeah.

01:41.22
Clay Mosley:
Um, but those are gonna be the ones that are the most high maintenance, and they want to direct someone, they want to hire a technician. That’s what they’re looking for, they know what they want, and they just need somebody to do it in their way. That’s who the tier 1 audience is. Um, the tier 2—

02:01.11
Clay Mosley:
Tier Two. Let’s just say you still only charge a thousand dollars, but that is more of a drop in the bucket to them. Um, they make more money, and they hire people to make decisions for them.

02:20.29
Preston Lee:
Okay, so Simon is complaining that there are former clients who are done paying him and who aren’t even paying him anything right now, and calling him up and asking him how to do something and they want it for free. It’s basically like—

02:20.40
Clay Mosley:
That’s the difference.

02:31.00
Clay Mosley:
Her.

02:38.29
Preston Lee:
Like I know Clay does websites, and so I call up Clay because I’m trying to figure out like, how do I, you know, add how do I have a navigation item to my homepage navigation or something, right? So I call up Clay, and I’m like, “Hey, do you know how to add an about, about me link or whatever?” Um.

02:53.61
Clay Mosley:
Um, oh, got it? Yeah.

02:57.80
Preston Lee:
And Clay does this for a living, right? And so, but I’m sort of calling up as a buddy. Not, not really as a buddy, because I think that changes the question, but as a former client, someone who paid you in the past. Now I’m calling you up, and I’m like, I need to update this thing, but I don’t want to pay you to do it.

02:59.60
Clay Mosley:
Yeah.

03:16.18
Clay Mosley:
Um, I don’t know, I’d just be transparent, to be quite honest. I would respond back and be like, “Hey, look, this is what I do for a living, and this is what people pay me to do. I’m happy to help you. Um, if you want to sign up for, for whatever package. Um, otherwise, YouTube is a great, um, is a great resource. You know, here’s a couple of YouTube channels you can check out that can help you with some of these things.” And then I would just leave it at that, like, you got it.

03:32.32
Preston Lee:
Yeah.

03:47.50
Clay Mosley:
At some point, you got to be direct and transparent with these people. Otherwise, they’re just gonna keep going at you. And if, yeah, you don’t, you don’t want to be, what do you call it? Um, you don’t want to be an enabler, because if you, if you keep answering these questions, then that—

03:51.89
Preston Lee:
Um, yeah, they’re going to walk all over you.

03:59.63
Preston Lee:
Yeah.

04:05.93
Clay Mosley:
To me, you’re giving them permission to keep asking questions. Just stop and just stop answering the questions. And if it’s a friend. Oh, sorry, go ahead.

04:10.90
Preston Lee:
Um, yeah, yeah, yeah, that’s it. No, you know, I just think that’s a good point, and you, you continue with your friend thing, and then I’ll say a couple things.

04:20.56
Clay Mosley:
Well, I was going to say, if it’s a friend of yours, then have a friend conversation with them. Like you shouldn’t, never, the analogy I come up with is, you should never ask your buddies who own a moving company to help you move. But you should ask your friends who do other things to help you move, but never ask the buddy who owns a moving company to help you move for free. Never do that? Yes, yeah.

04:42.88
Preston Lee:
Till you move? Yeah.

04:50.66
Preston Lee:
That’s such a good point. Yeah, because that’s what they do for their living, right? Yeah. I love the idea of offering an alternative, right? Um, to not just say, like, do this, this is what I do for a living, so bug off or whatever, right? Like instead, you say.

05:03.42
Clay Mosley:
Yep.

05:07.14
Preston Lee

:
You know I’m happy, happy to do this. This would be covered under my basics plan, which is $100 a month. Um, you know, I’d be happy to tackle this for you on a regular basis. Ah, otherwise, I do know some freelancers who charge a one-time fee. Here are their names, and you just have those, like, in a copypaste or in a text expander. So it’s really fast.

05:15.10
Clay Mosley:
Is.

05:26.10
Preston Lee:
Um, or you could, yeah, or you could say, like, or I know this YouTube channel teaches about these things. Like, I actually love having in my text expander, which is a tool I use. If you haven’t checked it out, be sure to take a look at TextExpander. Super cool. But I have them saved in there. So it’s like other freelancers I recommend, tools I recommend.

05:44.15
Clay Mosley:
Um, yep.

05:44.55
Preston Lee:
So that with a couple of quick keystrokes, I can make those recommendations and move on, um, because you don’t want to spend time, even if you’re declining, you don’t want to spend time on this as much as possible. So yeah.

05:55.63
Clay Mosley:
Yeah, you know what he could do? Um, he can take the most commonly asked questions from previous clients or whatever over the last, I don’t know, however many months and just create a resource page on your site and just be like.

06:04.56
Preston Lee:
Yeah.

06:09.80
Preston Lee:
Yeah, that’s such a good idea, some YouTube videos or something. Yeah, that’s a great idea too, and then and then you’re sort of keeping your brand forefront but you’re and you’re still adding value.

06:12.70
Clay Mosley:
Check out this page on my site. Yep. That way, you’re not, yeah, that way you’re not being a dick about it, and you yeah, and that you’re not wasting your time. So.

06:29.69
Preston Lee:
Yeah, good. Well, hopefully, Simon, that has been a helpful answer for you. Um, yeah, that’s a tough one, but hopefully that’s been helpful, and we appreciate you asking the question.

06:39.11
Clay Mosley:
I get.

06:42.86
Preston Lee:
Clay Mosley from gettrify.com, thanks so much for your insight today. I’ve been Preston with millo.co, and we will chat with you guys next time.

06:47.85
Clay Mosley:
Yeah, see you.

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Written by Preston Lee

Editor at Millo.co

Preston Lee is the founder of Millo where he and his team have been helping freelancers thrive for over a decade. His advice has been featured by Entrepreneur, Inc, Forbes, Adobe, and many more.

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Reviewed & edited by Mateo Melgar, Editor at Millo.

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