I don't like having my brains picked.
October 9, 2019 8:09 PM   Subscribe

People often ask me for tips about how to break into my desirable freelance career. I help them, and then I feel bad after. Help talk me through this?

I have some skills that I have honed over years, and via hundreds of hours of practice, analysis, and research. I make money doing these skills on a freelance basis.

As a general rule, I enjoy explaining stuff, so I'm usually able to succinctly communicate some pretty helpful ideas about how to do these skills well.

People often ask me for help, and I like to help. So I explain how to do things, which they appreciate ... and then they do a good job at a job that might have been MY job.

And then I feel bad when I do this. I feel like I'm giving my skills away for free, lessening my competitive edge, and letting myself be taken advantage of.

For instance- today Dave, a colleague I kind of look up to, gave my contact info to Becky, a young upstart, who wanted tips on running an event. Becky messaged me and praised a successful event I ran last year, and she reminded me that after that event, she had asked me to give her some resources I made, which she now uses as a resource in some classes she teaches for money. I felt weird about this but trapped into helping because Dave had brokered the contact, so I gave Becky some good tips.

I want to be the kind of person who helps. And on some level I think, "I'm really good at what I do for a million reasons that are too hard-earned, and too intuitive, to ever cover in an email. So even if I helped her with some basics, she still can't really do what I do."

Buuuut I also feel like Dave shouldn't be handing me out like a resource, and that Becky is totally taking advantage of me. And she's SO ambitious and endlessly hungry that I'm stupidly improving my direct competition (we are definitely in direct competition and in fact I realize now she has actually beaten me out for jobs a few times). I don't like feeling this way, but I do.

Can you give me some helpful ways to re-frame this situation and metrics for assessing who I should help, and how much I should help them, going forward?
posted by nouvelle-personne to Work & Money (27 answers total) 9 users marked this as a favorite

she reminded me that after that event, she had asked me to give her some resources I made, which she now uses as a resource in some classes she teaches for money. I felt weird about this

Whoa, this is not fucking okay. If you're still using these resources, can you attach some sort of trademark or watermark to them? Can you make your materials in the future such that your name/brand is an essential part of the materials?

I would bring this up with her directly and immediately. I can't believe she had the nerve to come back to you for more.
posted by unannihilated at 8:18 PM on October 9, 2019 [74 favorites]

Your knowledge is hard-earned, some (much/most) knowledge should be treasured, it's taken me too long to see this too. This person doesn't seem to realize this is a two-way street.

I heard two people talking about sharing workshop tools and one said, 'sure, it's a good idea, as long as you don't stop buying new tools'. I don't know if this is a useful way to look at it.
posted by unearthed at 8:23 PM on October 9, 2019

Wow, it sounds like you are an experienced and successful consultant. Can I get your business card, and how much do you charge for your services? Do you think that you could fit me into your busy schedule, or maybe you just won't have time?

But seriously, maybe a way to reframe this is to formalize what you do as a real business, and let your contacts know that you now have a business and would be happy to consider referrals. That could make it a lot easier to deflect freeloaders, and hopefully make it feel easier to decline referrals from direct competitors.

If you pursue this option, I recommend getting a lawyer to help walk you through setting up a business and any related IP issues, i.e. resources that people may want to purchase and use, and how to ensure you receive credit, etc.
posted by katra at 8:36 PM on October 9, 2019 [12 favorites]

Everything Katra said is good, but you also need boundaries. You’re giving away your IP and then wondering why people are taking away jobs off you! Simple answer, stop doing it! I know it feels good to help people but I bet it feels worse to be taken advantage of. Becky sounds like a vulture (unfortunately you can’t do anything about her now, that horse has bolted) but you can tell Dave to stop pimping your skills out for free.

The next time a young upstart calls you up to pick your brains, simply tell them that this is your intellectual property and it’s not available. Recommend a book or website on event planning (or whatever) and wish them well. Sure, you won’t be best friends and they’ll be annoyed that they couldn’t take advantage of you. Boohoo them. Boundaries...get some.
posted by Jubey at 8:56 PM on October 9, 2019 [20 favorites]

Becky is taking advantage of you. Dave either doesn't understand your profession or doesn't realize what Becky's doing. Of course you feel taken advantage of, but there's absolutely a way to help people without giving away the store.

I have an email template that gives some basic information anyone starting in my profession (if they'd done the research) of research should know: some basic legal, ethical, and factual things about my profession and the practice of it. Then I recommend the organizations they should join (and how to best leverage that professional training) to get the proper education and guidance.

And then the second-to-last paragraph quotes the cost of getting an ask-me-anything session and mentions that I'd be happy, once they've done their research and know what to ask, to refer them to a colleague who is a coach/trainer. (I could be a coach, training people joining my profession, but I prefer not to.) If the person who contacts me is in my geographic service area, I leave off the ask-me and referral paragraph. And, in that last paragraph, then I wish them well. Maybe 5% of the time, someone comes back and pays me for an ask-me-anthing session, and I'm happy to do it, knowing they've respected me and my time.

If basically someone says, "Well, I don't want to "waste" time when I can just ask someone successful how to do it" then you can make clear that you invested your time in learning these valuable lessons, so anyone who doesn't want to invest that time is going to have to invest money. Keep referring to your knowledge as your intellectual property.

In your situation, I'd just say to your friends like Dave that it's not in your financial interest to give up your professional secrets. And when you talk to people, instead of telling them HOW to do things, as them if they have a plan for X, if they've started to develop an approach to Y, etc. You can help people by telling them what to think about, rather than by telling them what to do. Your intellectual property is yours, but you've helped them think like a professional.

And honestly, if that woman is using your intellectual property to make money, I suggest you send her a letter saying that you appreciate that she values your work, but it's been reported to you that she's not giving you attribution, and you'll have to ask her to make sure your copyright is prominently displayed (or whatever). Do it cheerfully, a little condescendingly, perhaps, as if heh, heh, you assumed she'd know that was bad form.

This doesn't mean you can only help people who pay you. It just means that you don't have to give things away to your competition. Help people learn HOW to learn. Tell them what books you would suggest they read. What questions to consider. What conferences they should attend. Offer an ask-me-anything session FOR PAY equivalent to your hourly rate, and give them guidelines. Tell them how long the session is (45 or 90 minutes). Advise them to write down their questions and be specific, that you won't answer, "How should I market" but if they ask, "Magazine X has these rates and promises this reach and frequency, but website Y claims this. What do you think?"

And only help people who are respecting the value of your time and knowledge. Life is too short to contribute to your own resentment.
posted by The Wrong Kind of Cheese at 9:01 PM on October 9, 2019 [43 favorites]

Here's how to reframe the situation: You look up to Dave, and Dave has taken Becky under his wing, but you don't owe anything to either of them. If they want your advice, they can pay for it, at your usual rate. If they don't want to pay for it, they can look elsewhere.

You like to help, that's great! That's why your fee for teaching people is so high, because you're knowledgeable AND a good teacher. But don't teach if you're not getting paid for it.

You ask, "Can you give me some helpful ways to re-frame this situation and metrics for assessing who I should help, and how much I should help them?" You're probably not going to like my answer, but I suggest "Help them to a degree commensurate to how much they are paying you."

I promise I'm not the capitalist pig my answer makes me out to be, but frankly, since we're forced to live in this system, we have to make sure the Daves and Beckys are not thriving at our expense. Your time, experience, knowledge, and skill are worth a lot! You should not give any of them away. In the future you can give back to the next generation by teaching your techniques, but at that point you'll at least be getting a teacher's salary.
posted by ejs at 9:05 PM on October 9, 2019 [4 favorites]

I don’t know that I even agree with charging them for the information. I wouldn’t give it away at all. I mean, how much could you possibly charge for your IP to make it worth it for them to steal your clients off you by using it? Say you charge them $200 for an hour and half mentoring session. Three months later you find out that this new Becky has used your info (that she’s paid for) to poach three clients worth $10k. And that’s just the start. Still not worth it, and you don’t even get to be upset about it this time because they paid for the intel.
posted by Jubey at 9:11 PM on October 9, 2019 [37 favorites]

I don't know your gender but you sound like several of my female friends who endlessly screw themselves over by being too kind and giving to strangers. I myself have screwed myself out of sooo much money by being too nice, feeling to guilty to put my foot down, too obligated to strangers.

Stop sharing info period. Don't charge for it either, just say no. If it's emotionally tough for you to say no, just ghost people, or pretend you're too busy to meet and put them until you develop the skills you need to be able to turn people down without feeling cripplingly guilty. Doing so does not make you a bad person. I give you permission to do this
posted by shaademaan at 9:33 PM on October 9, 2019 [19 favorites]

You sound like me in that you are very sincere and want to be helpful to people. But just because someone asks for your time, insight and help doesn't mean they deserve it. If you disappoint them - so what. You're not being abusive or mean to them by saying no, by not giving them your hard-won professional knowledge, and by not sharing trade secrets. You're setting a boundary. If they push back, that's a lesson that they are toxic and wouldn't have been worth your time anyway.

As a young person, I reached out to many strangers/almost-strangers for career advice - some of them responded positively, some of them declined, some of them didn't respond at all. As long as they weren't actively abusive, I learned and benefited from everything - even if the lesson was hey, you don't always get what you ask for!

You are under NO obligation to mentor anyone! Being successful in your field is its own kind of mentorship because you are a role model that people can look up to.

If you DO want to mentor newbies, I follow someone on Twitter who is very successful in her field and receives tons of questions from newbies all the time. What she does is say explicitly that due to her busy schedule, she doesn't have time to answer questions except 1-2 times a year when she holds "office hours" and people can sign up for a brief call with her. If having office hours 1-2 times a year to mentor newbies is desirable to you, you could draft up a brief, friendly template that was something like "Hey X, thanks so much for your interest - due to my busy schedule I am no longer able to do 1-on-1 mentoring sessions but I have set aside time from April 2-10 for coffee, if you are still interested then please do reach out!" Then the ball is in their court.
posted by rogerroger at 9:53 PM on October 9, 2019 [6 favorites]

Tips is one thing. I think of it like having a good idea for a book - pretty different from actually writing a book, and generally not the idea that's lacking in people but the work. It's also not a zero sum game I often feel. Everyone benefits.

But resources? No way. That's actual work, which is the hard part. Hold on to that stuff, protect it and charge for it.
posted by smoke at 11:00 PM on October 9, 2019 [9 favorites]

I think there's a useful line you can draw between generic tips "make sure you get a good caterer with vegan options!" and specific resources "I always go to Farhad's Falafel because their rates are $___". Generic tips give the people you mentor encouragement and best practice type reminders that they could probably also find on the internet, specific resources give them the product of your hard research that they will then use to compete against you. Basically, don't give anything to specific people that you wouldn't put on a blog post online.

If Dave brokered the contact with Becky I think it's also fair for you to approach him about her using your resources and ask him for advice on how to deal with it/the best way to approach her about it. She should not be doing that or at least crediting you.
posted by storytam at 11:26 PM on October 9, 2019 [11 favorites]

In your shoes I'd create an online course of generic tips and how-tos and *charge* for it, then send people who want to pick your brain there, so that you can monetize your IP and hard-earned knowledge. But yeah, I definitely wouldn't offer resources like referrals.
posted by so much modern time at 11:58 PM on October 9, 2019 [2 favorites]

I'm commenting because I want to slightly buck the trend here, but I also want to preface with a disclaimer that you should definitely value your work (both metaphorically and practically), and value it even higher if you are female and/or a POC. Don't give away anything you don't feel comfortable giving away. Anyone who reacts negatively to that isn't valuing you, and doesn't deserve your energy.


MY old boss, who was very much at the top of his career when he retired and considered a bit of a pioneer in his field, had a saying "He who shares knowledge is king".

I didn't really understand it back when I worked for him, but I do now. If you give away your knowledge as you go through your career, it can have the following effects:

-- People have a limited understanding of it compared to yours, so it acts like a business card, they will come back to you for more information and to (ideally) hire you to give them the full picture.

-- You will be mentioned when the knowledge is used or passed on. This worked for him - he is still being quoted in books being written today, and he's been retired for years.

-- You can stay ahead of the game. You might pass on knowledge that you're using now, but you're already working on the knowledge that will inform your next piece of work.

So I mean - it's kind of already worked? Because Becky has come back for more. So I feel like this is the ideal time to say, I'm really glad that what I've shared so far is helping you. Lets talk about how to work together if you want to do so on an ongoing basis, I would be happy to give you a proposal for some regular mentorship sessions or consultancy time.

But in the meantime, if you can balance the idea of valuing your work and your time, with giving away what you can because you can, I think that's a really nice approach.
posted by greenish at 1:55 AM on October 10, 2019 [16 favorites]

There are a lot of good reasons to be helpful to people referred to you and who ask your advice, and they're not all altruistic. It happens to you a lot. So think about having a finite set of free resources that you're willing to share, and a set of proprietary/level 2 resources that you only share with those paying you for your active work as a client. You can make the free ones your basic, older, more entry-level stuff.

You can also accompany those with an IP agreement about how they are to be used, and you are well within your rights to take action when they are misused (as in teaching a class), though that should always start with a 1:1 conversation - don't go right to a cease and desist letter.
posted by Miko at 4:08 AM on October 10, 2019

I don't know how much you can apply this directly to your profession, but I think my husband has a pretty good way of handling this sort of thing. He's in the film industry, but where we live is economically depressed so opportunities are slim, hence a lot of competition for every job or project. His qualifications are high, he's acquired quite a lot of specialist equipment over the years, he can fix / repair almost anything, he has a warm and generous personality — everyone loves him, and loves working with him. If he's on your shoot, he's going to deliver the material, help keep people feeling okay under stress, and if something technical breaks down, there's a damn good chance he can make it work again, saving time and money. But, so some people come to him to borrow equipment, or get him to fix their stuff for free, etc., but some of these people are also undercutting him on price, or working overtime without pay, or working without an assistant, when the job really needs an assistant.

What he does: he has a circle of skilled friends who do the same job he does. They are always going to be in competition for the same jobs, but they coordinate together and help each other. In other words they talk about the jobs that are hiring and they agree among themselves what the terms will be so they are not undercutting each other, they help each other out with equipment when needed, they fill in for each other if needed, if someone is already scheduled for a project and they get an offer for another one for the same dates, they recommend each other for the work. If something breaks down on the job, they can call one of the others and they will bring over a replacement. They share critical info and tips. So even though the work climate should make them jealous rivals, their solidarity approach means they each do better and all have an important support structure.

But these are the trusted and vetted friends; some are old pros, some are younger and coming up, but they are all trustworthy, highly qualified, and won't stab you in the back. This alliance has built up over the years, so it's not something one can put together in an instant, but over time you can curate your own group of trusted friend-colleagues with whom you share tips, info, resources, etc. — because they do the same for you. They have your back, and you have theirs. Someone who just wants to use you to get ahead in a one-sided way? Not so much. You can give them general tips on how they can go about developing their own skills or whatever, but save the serious mentoring, inside info and leg-up help for those who will happily do the same for you. Freelance can be lonely and stressful, but having a trusted group to help, share, complain, rejoice and de-stress with makes it easier, even if some of you are in direct competition for work. You can share your expertise, develop a strong network, enjoy helping, get needed help and support yourself, and multiply your influence by pulling together with dependable, likeminded, low-drama fellow pros, established and upcoming.
posted by taz at 5:10 AM on October 10, 2019 [15 favorites]

A relevant question here is: do you have as much work coming in as you can handle, or are you struggling to get enough work to make the living you want to make?

If it's the latter (and I recognize that for almost all freelancer it's the latter) then the advice above is all good. But if it's the former? I think there's a way to reframe this for yourself. After all, it sounds like you like mentoring, you like the feeling of others benefiting from the expertise you've built up. And the more people who learn from you, the more well-run events there will be and the fewer crappily-run events, which is good for the world as a whole. Even if there may be particular events that you would like to have done yourself that instead someone else gets to do, and gets paid to do.

In science we wrestle with this a lot. If you are open with all your ideas, rather than clutching them to yourself, sometimes a young ambitious person gets an idea from you and does a project that you would have wanted to do yourself! But being open means that more science gets done, and faster, overall.

Honestly, another way you could go is to write a book about what you've learned. That would a) expand the scale of your mentoring and do even more good for humanity as a whole; and b) make you "the person who LITERALLY WROTE THE BOOK about this" and undoubtedly increase your personal competitiveness for gigs.

Finally: yes, Becky behaved unprofessionally and I think it would be totally OK to drop her a note and say "hey, not cool for you to use stuff I made for paid events without asking me."
posted by escabeche at 5:47 AM on October 10, 2019 [4 favorites]

I offer people general tips but also just flat out tell them I can’t provide them with written resources/introduce them to my contacts/etc because it’s my livelihood. I don’t do it in a mean way. I do feel like a jerk when I do this (it goes against the ingrained idea that women help others all the time) but I recommend it. You shouldn’t be enabling your competition.
posted by ferret branca at 6:02 AM on October 10, 2019 [7 favorites]

I'm quite busy; I just won't have time but I wish you the best.
That's part of my professional tool kit; I recommend you develop something similar.

It gets easier as you practice saying No graciously. I've been told No graciously, no big deal, and unkindly, and I remember the unkind ones. It's a small world, be kind.

In some fields, you can build a network and refer clients when you can't take a job; you might want to develop some partnerships. And trademark and copyright your work, and politely ask people to stop using it without permission.

Women should help each other by
1. Encouraging
2. Sharing extra work/ resources
3. Withholding public criticism
and more. But you have no obligation to give away your livelihood.
posted by theora55 at 6:53 AM on October 10, 2019 [2 favorites]

I read a guide about saying no, and the one thing I remember was to cushion it amidst encouraging things. "What a neat project! Unfortunately, my schedule is full that month, but I'm sure you won't have trouble finding someone else for something this interesting." So that's one option.

I also think that there is a big value in maintaining relationships, so I might meet and talk to her but try to avoid answering specific questions that you don't want to answer.

I also agree you need to confront her -- she can't use your hard-developed resource without at minimum giving you credit, and maybe she can't use it for a class at all. She should have asked; that's just inappropriate. (Especially if she's sharing exactly what you shared with her. If she heavily modified it after her own experience, it's a little better.)

Last, in some cases it can make sense to partner with your competition, particularly if they are hard working and smart. It doesn't sound like you like her enough, or maybe your business doesn't lend itself to this, but just something to consider. Could you and she, working together, do more than 2x the business you're doing now?
posted by salvia at 7:01 AM on October 10, 2019

I think there are different kinds of information/tips/resources, and different kinds of people who ask for help/advice.

In terms of information, at one end of the spectrum there could be general pointers (“How do you do invoicing?”) or specific detailed questions (“How would you handle this particular difficult situation in our field?”). These are sharing your experience and are incredibly useful, but they’re not directly handing over the things that make you money.

At the other end of the spectrum there are more concrete things that are short cutting huge swathes of your experience and hard work (“Can you give me the resources you’ve made and that you use in your workshops so that I can use them too?”) Hell no, maybe if you pay me lots of money for them, otherwise, do your own homework.

And then there are also many things between the two extremes, lots of which it will be hard to make a call on where they lie.

In terms of the people wanting help, I think the difference is kind of how similar they are to you, how much they’re competing. If you’ve been doing this for 40 years and a graduate asks you for some advice, then they’re unlikely to be going for the same work/clients as you. They could ask for help at either end of the spectrum I described above, but they shouldn’t be surprised if they ask for all your resources and are politely told to develop their own tools!

Helping people with the simpler, more general end of the advice spectrum, especially when they’re much more junior to you, is a brilliant thing to do, if you can spare the time. Giving people a hand, mentoring, helping them avoid mistakes, etc.

But it sounds like Becky is both a peer, in terms of potential clients, and asking for things at the wrong end of the spectrum. So needs to be gently told “no” for those things, but don’t necessarily rule out helping out in other ways.

(Like taz says, there’s a difference if they’re people you know well, where there’s an understanding about not competing, and giving each other help.)
posted by fabius at 7:45 AM on October 10, 2019 [1 favorite]

I did this to someone several years back and they were really gracious (they agreed to talk to me on the phone for about 15 minutes, we were in different cities). They told me their background training/story, asked me questions about myself, and then were basically like "I wish I could help you more, good luck!" and at the time I felt they were being so nice (and they were), but they also didn't give anything away about their approach to finding clients or anything that would give me an advantage or who they worked with.

If someone wants to talk to you about your work you could say "I'm happy to talk about my experience" and stay away from your clients, your resources, and focus more on how you've enjoyed being a freelancer for X reasons, maybe a story like "here's a mistake I made in the beginning" depending on who it is, but staying away from things that would give someone a competitive edge.

You can also just say you're too busy for coffee but they can shoot you a quick question with X limits as fabius describes.
posted by lafemma at 7:55 AM on October 10, 2019

The above advice about having something to share, that's on the level of what you'd put in a blog, is great. Positioning yourself as an expert is advantageous to you. Sharing the valuable details in a way that gives away the game, not so much.

Don't worry too much about Dave. He is just looking to network. Obviously it's potentially advantageous to HIM if he gives Sally a connection she can milk; he's passed the buck and now she owes him a favor. You don't have to be the cow.

You can offer a quick call during which you are nice to her, ask her about herself, make some general recommendations; or you can say "if you have specific questions I'd be happy to take a look", then decide how specific you want to be in your answers. Always be polite and gracious, but take the time you need before you answer questions.

And it's always ok, if you're confronted with a question that you're not sure you want to answer, to say "I need to look that up" and then later say the info's not available, for whatever reason. Very important if you're one of those people (so many of us are) who reflexively tries to be helpful and may be overly generous in "real time."
posted by fingersandtoes at 8:45 AM on October 10, 2019

Lots of of excellent advice above.

I'll throw in "When people want to 'pick your brain'" by Laura Vanderkam, who echoes some of the same strategies people have mentioned already: creating a sort of bland, high-level FAQ document that you can freely give away at the outset of such requests, telling them that you're busy this week but to please follow up with you next week (most people will forget / won't bother), and offering a brief 15-minute phone call instead of a coffee meeting or longer email chain, which naturally limits how much information you can provide.
posted by anderjen at 8:59 AM on October 10, 2019 [2 favorites]

In my profession, I belong to several really helpful closed Facebook groups. One is for posting available jobs and the other is kind of a mentoring/support group where people post questions or air frustrations about work life and have everyone provide suggestions. I’m not sure if there’s anything like this in your field but it’s been an invaluable resource and if you could tell them about something similar, (or start one yourself) would take the pressure off you to be everything to everyone as they all help each other - and still protect your IP.
posted by Jubey at 1:59 PM on October 10, 2019

Becky messaged me and praised a successful event I ran last year, and she reminded me that after that event, she had asked me to give her some resources I made, which she now uses as a resource in some classes she teaches for money. I felt weird about this but trapped into helping because Dave had brokered the contact, so I gave Becky some good tips.

I'm not sure I'm parsing this correctly. Becky asked you for these, you gave them to her, she sells a class using them? And Becky told you this? Or you just know this in some other way?

Also this is not really about Dave; wanting Dave to be different than he is can be a way of sort of being grumpy about not being assertive with either Becky or Dave (I feel you! I do this!) and so it might be worth sitting down with yourself and setting up some boundaries and finding a friend or mentor for YOU who will help you stick to them. Because it's hard. I'm a helper, I like to help. But I also have a personal/family background where I feel like if someone asks for help and I don't help, I'm risking anger or a negative reaction (I am not an "guess culture" person otherwise).

I have definitely started telling people "Hey I'm happy to answer a quick email for free but I freelance as a job, so for anything that's really more than that I'm happy to give you a rate sheet" I've had a LOT of people from startups who should know better tell me how they have no money for research and then well, too bad for them I guess? I've had very few people be actively shitty about it and that is VERY much on them. The industries I work in (libraries and tech mostly) are large enough that pissing one "Dave" off isn't going to be a deal breaker for me. I've also skipped that line for projects I believed in and felt AOK about sometimes working for free. So for me, metrics

- I will answer questions and even do interviews with almost any student. Sometimes students kinda run with this and continue to ask me long and involved questions and I will wrap it up at some point (not by offering a rate sheet but just by saying I am busy with work etc). But for people asking for my "work product" (i.e. the Becky situation) I will usually politely decline but give them suggestions on how to get started doing their own thing.
- I brand ALL my stuff, CC license some (always with attribution required) and just give some entirely away. I am also very generous about giving credit where it's due, so it's pretty clear that I am fine working in a sharing economy but that the work I do is WORK and not just list-making etc. I'm not clear for you if it was clear to you that Becky would be essentially selling a class using your resource when you offered it to her (or even if you offered it). If that wasn't clear I'd politely ask her to stop doing that.
- I'm cognizant that my revenue model is sort of my problem so if I'm not staying relevant with the work that I do, I have to mix it up. So giving out tips or advice "Oh need a way to sell your book to librarians, here's a FAQ I wrote up...." is what I do but "You're giving the talk I wrote about the Digital Divide?" is NOT ON and I would let someone know. In fact a lot of people ask me for advice enough that when I send an email with advice it's either copy/pasted if it's a thing I do often and then it becomes a post on my blog (you can see it on my librarian blog, it's a whole "Ask A Librarian" section) which is good content for me and supports the other work I do.

Same with AskMe really, this is all work I do for free, but if someone was selling my posts elsewhere I'd be steamed (and it's clear from the copyright that they can't)
posted by jessamyn at 2:51 PM on October 10, 2019

In addition to what every has said, I would say to see this as a possible client. She's coming to you for real (proprietary) solutions so you can treat her like a real client. You could say something like "I usually charge $100/hr for consultation but what I can tell you for free is this" and offer some advise/help that is either unique to you or even googleable. Another variation is "Happy to provide consultation! Feel free to schedule some time with me at www.yourwebsite.com and add a price to you time. I love this and wish you luck!!
posted by ColdIcedT at 10:36 AM on October 11, 2019

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