You know what working really hard gets me? More money and more opportunities? NO. It gets me more work and less time.

Stress is greater than Return on Investment

I have stopped submitting speaking proposals to conferences that do not pay speakers or even cover their expenses (even the conferences I love with all my ‘professional’ heart). I have stopped answering ‘just one question’ via email when strangers ask without a prior relationship or business arrangement. I have stopped agreeing to speak at local businesses or networking events to ‘gain exposure’. I have stopped offering to help someone figure it out ‘over coffee’. In the past I thought doing all of these things would bring me clients – it did not. It brought me more people wanting my ideas and time for free. Back in the 90s, I would get approached to do websites for free (of course) for businesses and in exchange I could put a footer link pointing back to me. “You will get TONS of referrals!” No. It is all done.

For years I followed my own motto of sorts that said 25% of my work I will give away to those that need it, and 75% of my work will be for hire. The catch was that the 75% needed to come before the 25%. That comes out to three paying clients for ever one pro bono. When approached to do the free work, I suggested that to balance out my needs the person wanting free work “bring me three paying clients first”. I can’t tell you how many times I was called horrible names for trying to turn their ‘innocent request’ for help into a unpaid sales position. No. It is all done.

I think I’m just stressed right now with deadlines and demands coming at me from all directions. Of course now there is an onslaught of ‘pick your brain’ or ‘we should meet for lunch’ emails since my webinar with Google. Oh, not actual opportunities for me, just people wanting expertise and time from me and not hiring. I send responses suggesting we could set up a meeting to discuss their needs and move forward from there for consulting. The answer is always the same. No. They just have a “few” questions and it shouldn’t take more than a hour or two of my time or we can chat over lunch.

My thought is that people might assume I’m being paid by Google (I’m not). Maybe everyone thinks I work at Google (I don’t). It could be that people think Google refers clients to me (they can’t – that I know of).

One of the worst emails I ever received was someone offering to pay me $25 for two hours of my time (and seemed to gloat over the fact he was willing to pay me and not take advantage – how gracious of him). That’s a whopping $12.50 an hour. I countered his offer with $3,000. (It was for conducting a 2-hour training seminar for his real estate office.) The last email I got from him he called me a fraud and suggested that I be reported (to whom I’m not sure). I don’t charge for my time, I charge for my expertise. These types of things happen to me all the time. Sadly I’m used to it.

What I’ve been working on is a way to share some of my expertise in ways that does not directly require my time. I’m writing and producing an online training series people can purchase that will let them learn at their own pace some of the techniques, tactics and strategies I put in place for clients – but without that last piece of personalization and customization that I excel at. That comes at a much higher price point.