Expert advice is not free

Expert advice is not free

Expert advice is not free

Some prospective clients have their requirements finally detailed; maybe it is even an official RFP.  However, you will often get the client that has thought about their idea a lot but has never documented it in a way they can explain it to others.  If a client has a detailed specification that you can review to determine the project scope, cost and create a proposal then that is a perfectly acceptable free consulting scenario because it is really the sales process. 

However, if you are bridging the gap between the ideas in their mind to a tangible document that others can read to understand what their project needs to do, you must charge for that.  I think there are plenty of consultants out there that think this is the sales process, because this has to be done before you can put a number on it.  It is true that this has to be done before you can estimate your effort, but it’s not your responsibility to do this for free. There is significant value in that document to them. During the specifications process you may outline exactly how some screens will behave, create prioritized feature lists, document how different technologies will communicate with each other and more. This document provides the client with overall direction of their project and provides value. The client could use this document to get quotes from other companies after you have put in the work outlining the exact features or to provide it to a lower bidder for additional ideas or the absolute worst scenario after you spent all that time and energy is they do nothing with it.

If they have done the upfront work then providing pricing, estimates, and a response to their RFP for free is still the accepted norm.  I think that is fair. If the prospect took the time to outline everything they want in detail then they are probably very serious about the project and actually have a budget and clear goals.  At this point they are looking for suitable implementers and are interested in learning more about you, your approach and your cost. 

For the next prospect that comes your way with no idea what they want, quote them a figure for designing their technical specification. Outline the benefits and value of that document, give them permission to use it to get other bids or do with as they please and charge accordingly for it.  If they see the value in having a solid outline of their needs they are probably going to be a good client. If they don’t see value in this work then you are probably better off not working with them.

Photo by Kevin Shorter - creative commons


Post Rating

Rating: Article Rating

Post Comment

comments powered by Disqus

Keep up to date with the latest happenings by signing up for my newsletter. This will be monthly at most, so go ahead and learn something today!

My Ventures

view all »
  • Web Ascender

    Web Ascender

    Web/Mobile design & development.
    Learn More »

  • Post Kudos

    Post Kudos

    Mobile App for client testimonials and customer reviews.
    Learn More »

  • File Ascender

    File Ascender

    Easily upload and share files from anywhere.
    Learn More »

  • DNN Spot

    DNN Spot

    High quality, easy to use, accessible and search engine friendly modules.
    Learn More »

My Books

view all »

Executive Guide to Web Design

This book is designed for business executives who want to learn about critical factors that affect your businesses website and online marketing. After reading this guide you will be comfortable working with your web design firm, marketing department and steering the direction of your company's online success.
Learn More »

What Internet Startups Need to Know

Are you interested in making the next big thing? Do you have a great idea, know your industry, and have a good way to get your product into the hands of others? This short e-book will go through the primary things to consider when evaluating and executing on your web or mobile application startup.
Learn More »

I Speak!

I do presentations to small local groups as well as Fortune 500 companies.  I have been requested to speak about:

  • Entrepreneurship experience
  • Running a small business
  • Using Social Media to improve your business
  • Personal branding
  • Internet Marketing
  • Web design and internet trends
  • Numerous programming topics

Contact Ryan Doom »