Picture this: You’re mingling at an event when someone asks what you do for a living.
You tell them you’re a freelance writer, and they start asking you follow-up questions on how your freelancing service relates to their business. Basically, they want free advice.
Let’s say you specialize in ghostwriting online articles for businesses. You might get questions like, “I don’t get blogs. Should I have a blog for my business?” or “Can I show you my blog real quick? I don’t know why but we don’t have that many pageviews!”
At this point, you might start feeling awkward. Um… That’s what I do for a living, you might think to yourself. I’m not just going to give you a free blog assessment or free advice for no reason. Plus, you’re this random person I just met! I don’t even know you.
On the contrary! Yes, this person might be a stranger. Yes, they might be asking you to share knowledge with them that you would normally charge clients for.
But giving away free advice can actually benefit your freelancing business!
Here are five reasons you should give away (some) free advice.
1. It doesn’t really cost you anything
If you have the answers to your new acquaintance’s questions on the tip of your tongue (which, if you’re an expert in your field, you probably will), then it’s not really costing you a huge headache to rattle off some practical suggestions.
Successful freelancers are passionate about their work. Helping people by giving them a couple suggestions to improve their business might be something that takes next-to-no effort on your part, but could be extremely useful to them.
Plus, it gives you something to talk about if small talk isn’t your strong suit.
2. It positions you as an expert
The free advice you give will probably be information that the person asking has never heard before. But now, they know that you know your stuff — and that you’re confident, smart and experienced.
That means they’re more likely to pass your name along to a colleague who needs the service you offer.
3. It increases the likelihood they’ll hire you
If you’ve given even just a tidbit of advice, then your conversation partner implements that advice and it works, there is an extremely good chance they will hire you.
At the very least, they will remember you. They they might mention you to someone else, or they might hire you for their own needs six months from now.
4. It will help them realize how valuable experts are
They probably won’t remember half of what you say.
Yes, you’re technically giving out free advice.
But this person is more likely to remember your authority and experience along with one or two recommendations, as opposed to the entirety of what you have to say. Even if you’re “giving away” your secrets, the recipient won’t have the ability to implement everything you say, and that will make them much more interested in hiring you in the future for your continued expertise.
5. It will help you better understand your clients
When people ask you these types of questions, you’re getting the opportunity to practice your skills.
You might discover you know more than you expected, or you might find you need to do research in a specific area to brush up on your skills. You might learn something new or consider a common problem from a new angle.
It’s also great opportunity for you to figure out the best way to connect with and speak to your clients about the problem they’re having, and to practice taking the technical language out of the equation so your explanations are easier for the average person to understand.
By giving away free advice, you are in effect positioning yourself as an expert. Your willing demonstration of skills will drastically increase the likelihood that potential clients will choose you over another freelancer.
A word of caution: While giving away some free advice can definitely be a good thing (for them and for you!), do note there’s a big difference between someone asking questions casually at an event, and someone who asks to “meet for coffee” every week to ask questions that are extremely targeted to their business.
Free advice isn’t the same thing as giving a brand consultation. If it turns into an ongoing one-way street, let them know your rates.
Successful freelancing is all about maintaining that balance of client relationships and earning an income!
When has being forthcoming with free advice helped grow your freelance writing business?