You Won’t Save the World by Giving Your Solution Away for Free

Have I already hit a sore spot?

I know it’s a touchy subject when it comes to making money from your passion, and I hit on it slightly in one of my posts a few weeks ago and I’m still getting emails about it.

So what’s the nerve I’ve hit?

I’ll tell you…

You won’t save the world by giving your solution away for free!

We’ve been doing all of this work on finding your passion and making money from it and discovering how you can help people…

In other words, defining what solution you have to someone else’s problem…

I do one-on-one and group coaching to help people do all of this and time and time again one of my clients will say to me…

‘But I want to make the world a better place and if I have a solution that someone else needs, shouldn’t I give it to them for free?’

YIKES!

NO!

Here’s the deal…

Do I want you to take advantage of people?

No, of course not!

But the fact of the matter is you are NEVER going to make the world a better place by giving your solution away for free for 2 main reasons…

1. If you give it away for free, how long do you think you’ll be able to keep giving it away? Honestly, won’t you end up depleted of resources like time and money and energy if you go this route? I say this to my coaching clients like a mantra, “When you fly in an airplane, there’s a reason they tell you to put the oxygen mask on your self first.”

2. People don’t have anything at stake if it’s free and if you REALLY want to help people they have to have something at stake.

Now before you argue with me on that second point, I have proof…

Years ago, I had enough people ask me why I didn’t give my coaching for free so I thought it would be an interesting experiment. I invited 10 people to work with me one-on-one for free. This normally would have been a $5000 investment for them to work with me, but I agreed to have them pay that amount once they finished the program and saw what it could do for them.

What do you think happened?

Well…the first 2 weeks went quite well, everyone stayed accountable and took the action I gave them to take and then…

Well, let’s just say that after 5 weeks I was putting all my time and effort into chasing them down.

I called a group session together and asked them what they thought the problem was…

I’ll be completely honest about the response…

  • 1 of the men in the group said that I just wasn’t the coach for him
  • 1 woman said that she realized she really didn’t want to do what it would take to be an enterpreneur
  • 1 younger guy didn’t even call into the group session
  • And the 7 remaining people agreed that because they didn’t have any skin in the game, the program had gone to the bottom of their priority list…

They literally told me that because they didn’t have their investment in the program pressuring them to follow through, they just weren’t making it a priority at all.

Ultimately, as a group, we called off the experiment and 3 of the people made the investment to start working with me…

The results?

2 of them now have extremely successful businesses and the third didn’t follow through anyway so I let him out of the program.

So, I’ll say this a million times if I have to…

If you have a solution that will help people, and you really want to help as many people as you possible can, the results will be much better for everyone if you don’t give it to them for free!

I’m all for giving and charity, but that isn’t what this is about…

You don’t have to charge huge amounts of money, but it does need to be enough that it inspires the person to follow through and actually use the solution you have offered them…

If you want to make money from your passion, please take this to heart…

Put the oxygen mask on yourself first and then get out there and you’ll be able to help all the people you can reach!

Leave me a comment or shoot me an email to let me know how you feel about this, it’s a hot button topic and I want to open up a conversation about it!

Go Big!

Kristen


22 Responses to “You Won’t Save the World by Giving Your Solution Away for Free”

  1. Rosemary says:

    What sage advice, but I would like to offer another reason for the phenomenon you observed: The vilification of money and/or capitalism by those who want to manipulate the minds of people over whom they want power. If we follow our passion, helping one another and living abundantly as a result, we cannot be herded like cattle to the slaughter. Your teaching of self-empowerment must ring from the rafters so more people can hear it. Thank you.

  2. Jaime Kalman says:

    Great post! As a certified energy healing practitioner, hypnotherapist, and life coach, I definately related to this blog. I suffered from this “money block” for years! I realized, that what was causing my suffering was not the actual dilema of whether or not to charge for my services, but what I was making it mean – in my own mind – if I did charge for my services. It was my thoughts about accepting money in exchange for being of loving, helpful service that was causing my discomfort. We are conditioned through fables, stories, and other societal means, that money is “the root of all evil”, and that true service comes from the heart and not from the wallet. I watched as TV evangelists guilted and scared religious viewers into donating money they didn’t have to “save the church” – and I became skeptical and critical of this practice. My heroes, such as Ghandi and Mother Theresa, were depicted as living in poverty as they committed their lives to total service of others. I clearly remember in the past, wanting to go to lectures or workshops given by spiritual or motivational speakers that I admired, but I was shocked and disappointed by the enormous costs of such events. It made me feel like only those who could afford it were allowed to receive the tools and inspiration that these enlightened beings offer. That never felt right to me. So, when I became a practitioner of self awareness and transformation, I ran right into these old, core beliefs and feelings about money and helping others. The result: total incongruence!!!! I had spent thousands of dollars on my credentials, studies, practice, resources and rent for a space to offer my services, and here I was, terrified to charge because I felt it would make me look bad or that it wasn’t fair to others. So, I didn’t charge…and very few people created any lasting changes. Instead, they were late to appointments, didn’t set clear intentions for their own healing, and following our sessions, chose not to implement any of the concepts we had practiced together. All the while, I was working full time as a waitress just to keep myself afloat in order to defend myself to those who criticized my charging for helping others! The result from not charging for my services, was that there was not an even exchange of energy. These clients also didn’t want to come back because they felt indebted having had the first session for free. So, I began charging an affordable fee, and people began to take it more seriously. They also became repeat clients because they felt they were investing in themselves and that there was a balance between client and practitioner. I learned that I didn’t have to charge more than I am comfortable with, but that an agreed upon amount sets the tone for the value that one can expect from my services. I then, get to experience my clients’ joy, when they see how I exceed their expectations in the value I deliver. If there is nothing invested, there is nothing keeping us in the game. We live in a monetary society, and those of us working to help others, can remember that we create our own value. I now charge for my services consistently, but I never turn anyone away if they are committed and willing and ready to do the work for lack of funds. I work with their budget, but I always remember that it is a dis-service to give it away for free. If someone wants coaching, healing, or therapy, but their story is that they can’t afford it, then their extraordinary transformation begins with proving to themselves that they can create the possiblity of investing in themselves in the first place! And that, is the true healing gift – to remind others that it is “their story of not having enough money” that is keeping them stuck – not actually spending the money on getting the help they desire to live lives they love!
    Thank you for this helpful and inspirational article.
    Warmly,
    Jaime Kalman

  3. Judith says:

    So true, so true.

    Right now, there is an election in my country, and unfortunately, the major candidates are using the good versus evil rich versus poor tactic.

    And all I can think of is, if you really want to help the country, you wouldn’t make 90% of the population hate the rich, to make the underprivileged ones believe being poor is a privileged state, and by virtue of being in need, they deserve to be given things.

    Still, there is value in giving away something for free, in order to reach the ones who do not really know you yet, and need a commitment from you, assurance or proof of what you’re offering, before you can get them to commit. 🙂

    But it’s just a stepping stone to the relationship, once you’ve given what you have free of charge, there is a point when the only way you can help people is to challenge them, because that’s the only time and way they will rise up and actually accomplish what you’ve been trying to get them to do. Otherwise nothing changes, your energy and efforts are wasted, and the universe hates waste. 🙂

  4. Leila says:

    Hi Kristen, it seems to me that the most helpful entrepreneurs on the net use a combination of asking for a fee and giving free help. If I were going to start my own business I would do that. Lots of people need help but haven’t got the proverbial two pennies 🙂 and if you help them then, later on when they’re not so broke they are happy to pay you…sometimes they’re really happy.
    Thanks for all the help.

  5. Elena says:

    Thank you for this post, Kristin! This is SO true!

    I would like to ask you a question, is not necessary related to this post, however it bothers me for a loong, long time: how is possible that a person who is very negative about money, who is always talking about her lack of money, to attract quite a lot of money? she is not reach, but anyway she is doing pretty well.

  6. Lydia says:

    Sometimes we don’t miss money only that energy to make money .There are many around that ‘eat’ this from others .To make again money have to rise that energy inside you ,to rememeber how it is ,to be yourself .
    Stuart Lichtman are right , is very good this guy .He explain interesting things about our thoughts and the energy behind our thoughts .
    Thank you for his link . Is fanatstic !! I began to understand new things .
    Look , I can come here , next month ,after 10 May ,to become a member of your site .
    Thank you for your time , energy, all you have put here . Be sure you will receive all you need because you deserve it . The Higher Power will send you something , even from me .
    You are fanatstic .
    Worm regards ,

    Lydia

  7. barney says:

    you are right on with this post. Free has no value for folks because they think because it is free it is not worth anything. Some of the best advice, wisdom, etc. I have gotten has been free through reading, listening, etc. However, to really move the needle in self development there is a price: mental, physical, emotional, financial that I must pay to move forward.

  8. Claudie says:

    I totally agree with you Kristin

    If someone has to pay for something it is more likely to look after it as he/she has put a value on that item. However if the same item is given free the item value is greatly diminished.

    Why? I don’t know but it is usually the case with most people.

  9. Rosemary says:

    Judith, I too fear the rhetoric in this country about rich vs. poor that is making the economy worse rather than better. Beware the Trojan Horse which appears to be a gift but is actually a virus that infects one’s Mind into thinking that someone else has something that should be yours, was taken from you, and justifies actions that will empower the person or group that introduced the virus in the first place, leaving you worse off than before. Study the Soviet Union. Study Cuba. Study what is happening in Venezuela. Study Greece. Once thriving nations are being destroyed under the rubric (usually false) of compassion.

    By all means, though, offering free advice to those who need our services can actually educate them to the reason they need our services. For example, our area is among the highest in foreclosure rates in the country. It is surprising how many people do not know the foreclosure process, what loan modifications can and cannot do for them, that a short sale is a viable alternative if the loan modification does not work, particularly if maintaining their credit rating is of value to them. Knowledge is power, and I want to spread that knowledge so people will not feel so helpless, to see how their actions affect everyone else, including themselves, and how they can help to get us out of the mess in which we are. We are the answer. We have the power. Giving it to someone else, particularly government, is rarely the answer.

  10. Mark says:

    Okay Kristen,
    You are right, giving away something for nothing does not make sense, however if they truly can’t afford to pay and really need help I would be inclined to a least give them a chance. I know in my situation I have spent the majority of what I have on starting my businesses. I would love to have the money to pay for a coach. I know inthe future I will, but for now I shall read and listen so I will be able to get a coach.
    Mark

  11. abdul says:

    hi kristen
    thanks for this letter. i’ve just read this, sorry i read it too late. but i really agree with you. things which are valuable shouldn’t be for free. recently, i’m giving my country people service which is how to release their backache with few body positions; paying only little money using the phone as a medium. some of them still want it for free and tried me. i told them this would not be possible. as the proverb say: there’s no such reality like something for nothing.
    thanks
    abdul

  12. Dawon Fleming says:

    Great post Kirsten!
    Having read all the posts I will venture to say that everyone is right; Giving away goods/services for free can be both good and bad depending on the good/service, the people involved, time, and a host of other circumstances. So then the key is to have wisdom to know what goods or services can or should be given away free and when giving something for free is warranted.

    I kind of experienced the “free or not” dilemma as a college tutor. I charged $20/hr to tutor students primarily in English and Math and for the most part I never had a potential client that wasn’t able to pay for it. However, tutoring was something that I really wanted to get away from because I was unsettled with the notion of charging students to help them. There was a cliche that I remembered from years ago that If you can’t afford the solution then it’s not a solution. Then instead of giving up tutoring I just added a conditional money-back guarantee, that if I was not able to help them then I’d return 25% of their investment. Eventually I stopped tutoring altogether. But yes, I’d venture to say that everyone is right on this one 🙂

    Thanks Kristen

  13. Linda says:

    Kristen,

    Thanks for the advise…I was saying that to myself a few days ago In the natural, I have to help myself to be able to help others in the inspiritual, God trains me to help others ….Great minds think alike. I don’t get angry about the truth at least not all the time…..What can I say, but Thank you….I will work at putting on my oxygen mask first,

    Blessings,

    linda

  14. Rosa Muziotti says:

    You are right Kristen.
    Long time ago I attended a church that gave away handouts with information on how to improve health, relationships and money. After finishing the meeting it was frequent to see the handouts on the floor a few meters away from the church. The director decided to charge 1 dollar by each one and then people did not throw them away anymore because they PAID for them and the handouts were THEIRS

  15. Hi Kristen!
    I truly believe now that people feel if you give something to them for free, what you are giving is worthless. This is bogus; however, this is the unfortunate reality here in the United States. If a person cannot afford to pay full price for your services, perhaps they can barter their services.
    I know what you are saying about folks not appreciating what they get for nothing.
    Thank you for the information that you provide in your blog. I get so much out of it.

  16. Robert says:

    Everything in life worthwhile has a value and many people who have paid for courses or instruction to better themselves do not complete the course. The crux of the matter is that one has to have the intention of completing something that one started whether it was paid for or not!Everything in life has a cost,financial or emotional and it is a persons own will and intention to see it through!Some need training to accomplish how to finish a task. This is where u, Kirsten, are involved to teach people the right intention to complete something started!

  17. Susan says:

    Hi Kristen – just read your post about not giving your services away and totally agree. Aside from my marketing/coaching services I have been an intuitive reader for over 25 years. Money as we know is just energy. We no longer use the barter system so now we get a service and pay the money. If we give our services away we cut off the flow of the exchange plus most people do not value what they get for free. I can’t tell you how many times I would give friends free readings, only to have them call at a later date and tell me they went to someone else, who they paid, and was given the same information that I told them. One can always discount for certain people or work out a trade but please, honor yourself and the other person by not giving it away.

  18. Daniel Jentes says:

    Hi Kristin

    As trying to become an entrepreneur or starting a business isn’t always a cakewalk. And trying to find the right mentor or program to succeed is always confusing. Even when people are trying to accomplish a goal or get out of they’re current finatial situation but never have the investment to put up to help change the situation and always being in neutral. It’s always hard to make good things free which most people want or wish was.

  19. Russ says:

    If you give a man a fish, he’ll eat for a day. But if you teach a man to fish, he’ll eat for a life time.

  20. Akhilesh says:

    This is one topic that has been a real conflict in my mind. I have read in many self-help and spirituality books and articles that the more you give away, the more it is returned to you in some other way which you havent even thought of.

    So if I will already get a many fold return from the universe, should I charge the people whom I am giving service? This was my conflicting thought. I felt that I should be taking money or something of value as return for my gifts at some level. And at the same time I also felt I would be becoming a greater person and more inclined to the unlimited nature of my spirit if I give away services and my gifts for free..

    I know that what I will provide to people will help them gain control over their destiny, but to see them in that state is my happiness! So i believed I will already be happy when I see lives changing, so why charge money in addition to the happiness I will have?

    Your thoughts about this has been valuable.

    But for it is a belief that would take some time to change I think. Its still something I am working with to get clarity. And your post really helped. Thanks for sharing..:)

  21. Sharon says:

    Hi,

    Kristen, thank you so much for your write up…..,its so true.

    I battled with this for a long time coz I believed the only way to help people was to give them “things” for free, even though I spent huge amount of money, time, effort etc to obtain what I was giving out for free. The result? Very discouraging. Most people dont place much value on what they paid nothing for.

    It got so bad that I ran into debts myself, stopped the motivational program I was running on the radio, and saw those that were to benefit treat everything with levity. I became confused and very bitter for a long time. It was a while ago and I’ve gotten over it, but I’ve since learnt that even though charity is good, letting people understand clearly the price they have to pay to get “things” is a better way of helping them grow. After all, you paid a price to get those things yourself, in cash form or otherwise.

    But when it is obvious they dont have the cash, any form of investment on their part will show they value it. I’ve enjoyed a lot of freebies too, so I am not against them. But putting a value on things is equally necessary and very good.

    Thanks

    Sharon

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