A friend of mine is also an entrepreneur. She was asked about possibly doing a whole new project for one of her clients. She wasn’t super familiar with the details but knew she could do the main part, so she said she was interested.
The client didn’t even ask her to, but she spent several hours researching information and details about parts of the project she wasn’t as familiar with — but hadn’t firmed up a price or a contract with the client yet.
I told her to stop. The biggest thing about being an entrepreneur is you only get paid for certain work. It was the client’s responsibility to take care of some of what she was researching, and even then, only if they agree to move forward.
Protect your time.
As the expert, your time is your most valuable commodity.
Time spent doing “just a quick little favor” for a client that pays by the minute or researching something for someone you don’t even work for any more than 10 minutes should absolutely be paid.
If you are wondering what this includes — literally everything. It is up to your discretion to give advice to your family or close friends for free. Anyone else should be paying.
There is a REASON you are able to make a living freelancing and that is because you are really good at what you do.
Which means you deserve to be compensated for it.
Don’t work for free.
I will occasionally give discounted pricing to people if it’s a trial blog post or something. But even then, still not free and that is my own choice.
The times when I have not charged for advice or help are when I choose to do so in a community, such as Reddit or Quora, where people are genuinely asking for help and no one is under any obligation to give it. I like helping people, and other writers are a fantastic group of people!