As you become known as a freelance writer you’ll find people ask you all sorts of questions.
Most people asking are simply curious and quickly tire of the topic.
But once in a while you’ll run into someone who is picking your brain for information to use in their own business.
How much information should you give away?
I wish there were an absolute and simple answer, but I’ve never found one. Instead I feel my way through.
Here are some of the things I consider:
How much time do I have to answer the question? If I’m jammed for time and someone calls with questions about freelance writing I’ll tell them I’m short of time and suggest they search the site.
On the other hand, if I need a break or have some time I’ll often chat a bit and answer at least a few of their questions.
Is there a way I an also use the answer? If you follow this blog you know I answer questions about freelance writing in blog posts. When someone emails me a question I often answer it quickly and then do a more complete answer in a blog post.
If a writer or would be writer calls I do roughly the same thing – answer briefly and then use their question here with a longer answer.
Is answering this question a part of my desire to be of service? Being of service is something I truly want to be. That desire is also part of my consideration about questions.
It shows up most often when folks call about ghostwriting a book. Many of them have absolutely no idea how much such a venture can cost them, nor do they have any conception of the process. Even when I figure out I’ll never make a nickle from them I try to leave them knowing more about the process than when they contacted me.
For example, I often send a non-disclosure agreement and suggest that they can use it with any ghostwriter they eventually work with. I also suggest a book or two and even gift the occasional person with one of my own ebooks.
When it feels like too much. I tend to trust people’s good intentions and even so, from time-to-time I get the sense I’m being pumped for information. Sometimes I’ll simply ask how they are planning to use what I’m telling them. Based on their answer I may continue or I may simply say something like, “… you know, you can certainly hire me to help you…”
I’ve actually been hired once or twice because I made a comment like that. Mostly, however, the person apologizes, thanks me and we disconnect on reasonably friendly terms.
How do you handle requests for too much free information?
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