RE: Tired of giving out technical advice for free

Subject: RE: Tired of giving out technical advice for free
From: "Maggie Secara" <maggiros -at- adelphia -dot- net>
To: "TECHWR-L" <techwr-l -at- lists -dot- raycomm -dot- com>
Date: Mon, 25 Feb 2002 23:47:25 -0800

> -----Original Message-----
> From: bounce-techwr-l-84814 -at- lists -dot- raycomm -dot- com
> [mailto:bounce-techwr-l-84814 -at- lists -dot- raycomm -dot- com]On Behalf Of Steve
> Hudson
> Sent: Monday, February 25, 2002 11:07 PM
> Subject: RE: Tired of giving out technical advice for free
> OK, as no one else seems to be offering any ideas:
> At what point does one say "I charge for this service" and "here's some free
> advice / information"?

I believe that was at the base of the original question. And I suspect the
original questioner, like many people, was taught always to return phone calls
and answer letters, to speak when spoken to, and thus, never tell a drive-by IM
or obscene phone call to get stuffed. They are trying to be polite, then
feeling like a doormat afterwards. But as Dear Abby so often says, no one can
take advantage of you without your permission.

I am a great proponant of courtesy, but if you feel used and abused, stop! Only
you (whoever *you* is) can decide how much is too much.

Related but non-TW (sort of) anecdote:
Last summer I did get a request from a lady to look over a document for her, and
provide her with ideas. It was the program book and invitation for a
Renaissance-themed family reunion. At the point I realized I was about to spend
a long afternoon with it, even though I was enjoying the project, I gently
pointed out that I usually get paid for the kind of editorial work she really
needed. I knew she couldn't afford very much, but I felt we would both respect
the work more if we put it on a professional basis. So I quoted her a very
reasonable, within her budget, flat fee. She signed on. We created something
very nice over the weekend, her relatives were dazzled, everyone felt like they
had called in the Pro from Dover. When some of the Aunts had a question about
Elizabethan language (they seemed to think their Bible and I were at odds over
the second person singular) I provided the information without a thought about
fees, because it was easy and because education is my primary motivation. Her
modest check was timely, and it cleared.

If she had wanted me to sew her a costume for the event, she'd have expected to
pay me. If she had wanted me to come and teach a workshop, she'd have expected
to pay me. For writing/editorial service *on top of* technical (in this case,
historical) expertise ....

My website is already very lush, detailed, and free. How do I decide what above
that is enough and what is too much?

Mood swings. ;)

Maggie Secara
The Elizabethan World is at

Now's a great time to buy RoboHelp! You'll get SnagIt screen capture
software and a $200 onsite training voucher FREE when you buy RoboHelp
Office or RoboHelp Enterprise. Hurry, this offer expires February 28, 2002.

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RE: Tired of giving out technical advice for free: From: Steve Hudson

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