How to Draw the Line Between Free and Paid

“Can I pick your brain?”

“Let me buy you lunch and ask you a few questions.”

“I’d love to get your feedback on this.”

Sick to your stomach yet? I think we all get a little queasy when well-meaning people say these things. Don’t they know you’re in business?! It’s all too easy to get sucked into yet another unpaid job, investing hours of your valuable time in someone who has no intention of paying.

If you need to know exactly what to change to do fewer freebies and get more paid work, this toolkit can tell you.

  • There are specific changes you need to make in your business and your approach to potential customers. And I’m going to show you step by step how to convert some of those brain-pickers into paying clients. (You’ll never convert them all. And you really don’t want to.)
  • If you can capture just one more hour per week of paid work, what is that worth to you?

So if you’ve been struggling with saying the right things when someone offers to buy your lunch, and you want to convert those people to actual paying customers, then keep reading.

How I learned to draw the line between free and paid.

Becky McCray

Becky McCray, Small Town Entrepreneur

I’m not some business guru. I’m a small business owner in a small town.

And trust me, when you know everyone in town, everyone wants your help for free.

I struggled with this. I used to describe myself by saying, “I don’t like asking people for money when I help them.”

Twenty years later, I’ve learned how to draw the line between free and paid. But I had to get here the long way.

I read all the articles that I found, I listened to smart business people, I collected examples of exactly the right words and I’ve written about drawing the line between free and paid over and over on Small Biz Survival.

Finally, I realized why those simple articles I read back then weren’t enough to change my habits.

  • I’ve learned that there is actually a process that you have to go through. If you don’t have the foundation in place, it won’t work. That process of building your foundation is in this toolkit. So you don’t have to take 20 more years to learn it.

Build your foundation, step by step

It’s not your fault that articles and phrases haven’t been enough to fix this problem for you. If you just memorize words to say, you don’t have the foundation in place to make them stick. Those brain-picking individuals will just keep marching right over the top of you.

  • The ebook walks you through the six simple steps, building your foundation. In fact, you’ve probably read all six of these building blocks somewhere or another, but no one has helped you put them together like this.
  • If this toolkit was free, you wouldn’t pay much attention to it. That’s why it’s $37. I want you to be able to afford it, but I also want you to take it seriously and actually do it.

Get more of the message in the webinar

Becky and Sheila at SOBCon party, SXSWi 2011 (courtesy Matthew Lemke)

Becky McCray and Sheila Scarborough, co-founders of Tourism Currents

Sheila Scarborough (my business partner at Tourism Currents) put together an outstanding webinar on this very topic, but it was for a members-only site.  I convinced her to bring it back and share it with us.

During the webinar, Sheila adds some valuable tips.

  • The advantages (yes, there are a few) and disadvantages of sometimes working for free.
  • How to tell the difference between predatory brain-picking and friendly questioning.
  • Why social media and the “culture of free” tends to cause us to be overly casual about the value of our work.

Learn the right words, in a way that works

When you have the foundation in place, you can handle those stomach-churning questions. You won’t just be repeating words you’ve read, you’ll be speaking confidently to a potential client.

  • You’ll hear how this works in a short, 4 minute audio. Sheila Scarborough and I present some common questions and some uncommon answers, so you can hear it.

The words can flow easily, because you’ll have examples to work from, and because you’ll have the business built that supports you in turning those people around into paying customers.

Make it stick, pen to paper

You already know that writing something out by hand makes it easier to remember. That’s why you get the worksheets, taking you through the key concepts. Step by step, you’ll change your business. And you’ll absorb the words that work.

You’re finished being taken advantage of

Time to move forward. Read through the e-book. Listen to the audio examples. Follow the webinar. Pick up your pen and start on the worksheet.

It’s all part of changing your business for the better. Capture more of those potential sales.

  • And you can actually smile the next time someone says, “Let me pick your brain.”

If you don’t have a strategy for dealing with people who like to “pick your brain” and if you’re ready to put an end to it once and for all, consider How to Draw the Line Between Free and Paid. This informative and entertaining one-hour webinar, produced by Sheila Scarborough and Becky McCray, will provide you with insight into how you can protect your value while providing it to the right people – those who truly value you and what you offer.

Bundled with a mini workbook and some other resources, you can use these materials to craft your own strategy that will attract the right people to you and your business. This isn’t material to listen to and read just once. Study it, review it, and use it to create a system that not only keeps you focused on your core business activities and serves the needs of your target market, but also which filters out the freebie-seekers who can drain your energy. Your knowledge is valuable and you deserve to be paid for it!

Tara Kachaturoff

Michigan Entrepreneur TV

Creator, Producer, Host


Get your How to Draw the Line Between Free and Paid Toolkit now: 

Draw The Line Cover Image12 page Ebook (PDF), includes:

  1. Six steps to drawing the line
  2. Worksheet for key points
  3. Summary of the audio

Plus the 4 minute Audio (MP3)

Plus the recorded webinar video
(This alone sold for $39 previously)


Buy Now

P.S. How much did your last “gave away too much for free” mistake cost you? How much would you get paid if you captured just one of those potential customers?