How Can You Protect Your Time While Still Paying-it-Forward?
I've been a blogger for a long time and I've often used my blog as an outlet to help me figure things out. I started writing when my husband died in 2007 and since then it's become the way I process.
I'm starting THIS blog that way so that I can admit to you right-off-the-bat that I'm not sure where this is going. But I'm hoping the answer will come to me as I type.
Every single one of us has been in the situation where we're the "new person" in an industry and we're desperate for knowledge. This is especially true when you're an entrepreneur and there isn't any on-the-job-training available.
I'm so dead grateful for the many people who have come into my life, willing and able to help me on my path. From authors who mentored me when I wrote my book to web designers who are still SO PATIENT with me as they explain new and changing digital functionality...there are a lot of generous people out there.
I often fluctuate between wanting to be helpful and protecting my own time and resources. This has been especially true as an author; once people find out that you have an agent and a book deal, they can't wait to pick your brain for whatever insight they can get.
And the thing is, there's a big part of me that would like to give them what they're looking for. And then there's a part of me that gets a little offended by those who don't think twice about the fact that it's taken me a lot of time and money to gain this knowledge myself.
So, how do we do it? How can we be generous people while still protecting our own time and resources? I don't have the time, bandwidth or, frankly, desire to meet with every person who emails me and says, "Hey! Let's meet for coffee so you can tell me everything you know how to do!" This is especially true now that I've been able to take everything I've learned and create a viable business. In other words, people pay me for the knowledge you're asking for for free.
Here are the solutions that I've come up with:
Charge a Fee
When I was writing my book, I wanted another established author to look at it. So, I started emailing authors I knew to see if anyone was interested or knew anyone else who might be. But I NEVER asked if they would do it for free. I spent hundreds of dollars for a NYT bestselling author to read my book and give me notes. It was the best money I've ever spent.
ANSWER: "Thanks for getting in touch! I charge $____ as a consultant."
Create a Course
If there are enough people consistently asking you, "How do you do ____?" then it might be time to figure out how to satisfy a lot of people at the same time. Creating a course allows you to help everyone at one time, so you're not meeting for a bunch of coffees that take up time you don't have.
ANSWER: "I'm so glad you asked that question. I have a course that I created that might be helpful!"
"No" is a Complete Sentence
This is the one I struggle with the most. I hate saying "no" - and that's gotten me into a pickle. The truth is, it makes me feel like a complete bitch when someone asks for help and I don't jump to their aid. The flip side is, I jump to their aid and I end up feeling used and resentful. The best solution I've come up with is to either schedule a 20 minute "virtual coffee" over Zoom or just try and push the meeting out so that it kind of fades away. "No, I won't help you" is just not in my vocabulary.
Well, there you go. Writing it down helped me again!