Don’t Give Away Your Expertise For Free!

When I first started out as an independent career professional and new business owner, I found myself being called upon by prospective clients, friends, family, and fellow peers to help….at either a discount or with no compensation at all.

Yes, really.

What’s worse is that I did it.

Why?  Likely because I was inexperienced; worried about looking bad or wanting to be a ‘people-pleaser’…hoping my generosity would generate some sort of long-term return.

Overall, it didn’t.

Instead of standing behind my value and requesting that I be paid fairly and squarely, I bent to the demands to give family or friends a deal.  Caved when clients said they couldn’t afford my fee.  Spent hours on the phone answering questions and sharing intellectual property that I had invested precious time, money, and resources into.

Don’t get me wrong, there is a time and place to help others and there were times that I gave the gift of my time willingly without an expected return and this felt good.  It felt right.

But all those times I was pressured to help at a cost to myself – when it didn’t feel right – I lost out.

Giving away expertise for free generates a vicious circle. People tell other people that they can expect a discount or free advice and backing out of the cycle can be challenging.

So don’t let this cycle start.

Own your value.  Know your worth.  Even if you are a brand new business owner (maybe a first time independent career practitioner branching out on your own….or an unsure entrepreneur), you deserve to be compensated for your skills, services, and expertise.

If you find yourself being asked to help clients for free or at a ‘special rate’, your best reply is a gentle, professional, firm NO.   If people scoff at your fees or make you feel bad for charging what you do, don’t listen.

Many, many times I heard things like:

“WHAT?? You want to charge me HOW MUCH?”

Please, can’t you just take a bit off your price?”

I only want to pay a certain amount.  If you can’t match that price I’m going elsewhere”.


At first these responses freaked me out.  Like I mentioned, I often caved.

Then a light bulb went off.  When I gave something for less or for free, people took more and more liberties.  They didn’t follow procedures; they demanded more as time went on. These ‘freebie’ clients became PITA (pain-in-the-a**) clients because they preyed on my initial weakness.


I knew I had a valuable service.  When I took stock, I realized the majority of clients WERE paying my fees without complaint.  More often than not the people who paid were the people who valued my time and my services and were fully invested in the work we did together.  Things went smoothly. They were happy and I was happy!

So I took a stance.  And guess what?  I didn’t lose clients (except the ones I didn’t need). I actually attracted MORE people who were well-aligned with what I was offering…who wanted to work with me and saw the fee as an investment, not a cost!

And poof – suddenly money wasn’t an issue.  There were no discounts….no free services….no giving away services or time for less than what I was worth.   People told other people about the VALUE of my work and a new, improved cycle started.

Worried you might lose clients by being firm to your value and your fees?  Trust me – the ones that can’t afford the rate you’ve strategically established for yourself are not the right-fit clients for you anyhow.  If your fees are reasonable for your skill sets and level of expertise stick to them, consistently.

Don’t let people bully you into something you are not comfortable with.

Get paid for what you are owed…what you are WORTH!

Stand behind your value and advertise a fee for the type of client you want to attract. Trust me, good things will happen!


Adrienne Tom is a careerpreneur, entrepreneur, mompreneur, and dedicated career pro. Learn more about her small business at .

If you are seeking support with managing your time, business growth and productivity, or personal overwhelm, CareerPreneur Partners can help. Contact us at

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