If you are a product designer, a plugin developer, a blogger or anyone who makes stuff that others use, at some point of the other you will have given free email or forum support.
But how much is enough? How much time should you give away for free? Where do you draw the line and tell yourself, okay, I should raise an invoice for this?
Time is our most valuable resource after all.
One could argue that if you are good at something, you should never do it for free. But for freelancers, solopreneurs and startups, putting this in practice is an ambitious uphill job. Most of us end up providing support and advice for free.
At times it’s essential. Sometimes the free advice will win you a client or maybe some word of mouth love or maybe it just makes you feel better to hear them say thank you. (It sucks when you help someone and they do not even send you a thank you mail. Ugh!)
This is my rule of thumb: If the overheads of the job takes longer than the job itself, I do it for free.
- The reply email.
- The time it takes to generate the invoice.
- The time value of PayPal transfer fees etc.
If all I had to do was login to the users WP-Admin and change couple of settings, the overheads will cost the client more than the job itself.
The only major exception I make to this rule is when I see a project that is challenging enough and will force me to learn something new and will eventually end up in my portfolio.