If You’re Good at Something, Never Do it for Free

100-dollar-bill-burning

Giving away your knowledge and talents for free is a great way to stay poor your entire life. If you want to succeed, you can’t be afraid to charge money for what you do. I explain why in this video.

Remember to subscribe to my YouTube channel for more updates. Video transcript by Eve Penman.

Transcript

If you’re good at something, never do it for free. It’s not just a line from The Dark Knight; it’s how I structure everything I do online and how you should as well.

If you have a skill, if you have a talent, if you have experience doing something, never give it away for free. You should always charge and you should not be afraid of charging. Because, quite simply, number one, obviously, if you give something away for free you won’t make any money off of it. But number two, if you give something away for free, people won’t appreciate it as much.

Now, let me give you an example. Recently I started offering consultations via my website, and if you want to consult with me just go to MattForney.com. There’s a link to it in the description. Rates are very reasonable; about 60 dollars an hour, but realistically your problem probably won’t take more than ten minutes. So if you’re interested in consulting with me on any topic that you think I can help you out on, just check it out.

Anyway, the reason I started doing consultations is because I was getting so much e-mail on a regular basis from guys just asking me—and girls, some girls—asking me questions about this and that, and I don’t have time to answer all this e-mail. I mean, if I tried I’d be doing nothing else, aside from maybe sleeping.

But number two, I noticed that a lot of the guys, the few guys I could reply to weren’t really… they didn’t really appreciate what I was giving to them. I would be giving them all sorts of links, ideas, whatever, and they were like, eh, whatever, they wouldn’t even reply back. I mean, it’s not like my feelings were hurt or anything, but I’m not going to cast my pearls before swine, you know.

What really clinched it for me was this one guy, he e-mailed me, “How do I make money online; what should I start blogging about; what should I start doing this; what should I start writing about?” It’s like, dude, every question that you’re asking me, it’s in my book Confessions of an Online Hustler, you can buy it by clicking here. The response he gave me just floored me. He replied back, “The reason I’m e-mailing you is because I don’t want to buy the book and I was hoping you would just give it to me for free.” I’m sort of paraphrasing it but that was the sentiment.

I’m like, why the fuck would I—you think you can get something out of me by insulting me like that? So basically, no, I was like, I don’t give advice for free any more. If you want to tap my knowledge, you have to put some skin in the game, you have to compensate me for the time that it takes to research everything and give you a fully detailed answer that hopefully will help you out.

It also weeds out the tire-kickers, people who just ask questions but they don’t ever take any action, okay. If someone e-mails me asking for a consultation now, I know for a fact that they’re serious about whatever they want to do, and if I give them advice they’re going to take it under consideration, if not put it into action. I mean, either way I get paid, but the same way, doing this I’m helping fewer people but the people I’m helping are more worthy of being helped.

Now, the average person might look at me as saying: oh, this arrogant 26-year-old kid, why are you offering consultations, what have you got to offer? And when I was putting this up that was my thinking myself; like, what kind of arrogant cocksucker would charge people for consultations? I mean, at the end of the day I’m just a writer, I’m just a blogger, I’m just some guy on the Internet; why would I expect people to pay me for such a thing? But that’s the entirely wrong mentality to go about things.

You need to learn to value yourself as a person, value your expertise, value your intelligence, value your skills, because if you don’t value yourself—it sounds like a fucking cliché from elementary school, but it’s the truth—if you don’t value yourself, no one else will value you. You have to respect yourself, you have to respect your skills and your expertise, respect yourself enough to not give them away for free to people who don’t even appreciate them. And, again, I still have these sort of self-doubts myself, even though I’m saying this. None of us are perfect.

To give you an example, the first book I published under my real name, Confessions of an Online Hustler, it’s a book about making money online; more or less focused in part on debunking scammers, how to improve your actual writing skills. I was an English major and I’ve been doing this for the better part of my life, but if you don’t have this experience the advice in there should help you out. How to get started with web programming; it’s not a book on web programming, but I teach you enough that you can create your own nice website without having to rely on anyone else; how to get traffic quickly, and finally how to write a book, how to make money off it.

But, basically, when I was first putting the book together about a year ago I was thinking, like, what’s the point of me publishing this? I mean, there’s a ton of books out there on how to make money online; what am I adding to the national dialogue? How exactly am I going to be able to compete with all these other guys?

Especially when you get to guys like, oh, what’s his face; I forget his name, the guy behind The 4-Hour Workweek. Tim Ferriss, yeah, that’s him. Tim Ferriss, how am I going to be able to compete with guys like that? But that’s exactly the wrong attitude to have, okay. That’s a scarcity mentality.

It’s like you’re thinking that there’s only so much of a pie to go around and when someone takes the pie there’s less for everyone else. That’s not how life works. That’s not how the business or writing world works, okay.

If you have a good quality product and you market it properly, you can make money. You won’t get rich, obviously. There’s no guarantees in life, but you can carve out your own niche. In my case, my niche as it were is debunking the scammers. There’s no affiliate marketing schemes, there’s no spamming forums with links to your shitty affiliate marketing website; this is how you can become a quality writer and how you can monetize quality writing.

So, and ever since then, Confessions of an Online Hustler has been by far my best-selling book. I’ve written about seven books total at the time I’m recording this video. Confessions of an Online Hustler is responsible for about 65, 70 percent of my overall sales. Doubting myself would have not led me to… I wouldn’t have published a book and I wouldn’t be living independently off of it right now.

So, basically what I’m saying is, if you have a skill, if you have an expertise, don’t be afraid of monetizing it, don’t be afraid what people will think of you. Don’t be afraid if people think you’re arrogant or full of yourself for trying to charge money for a skill that you have that you feel is worth the money.

Because fuck them. I mean, they’re not going to give you money either way. And if there is an audience for what you have to do, unless it’s like, I don’t know, picking your nose perhaps, but you have to learn how to monetize. You can’t be afraid of monetization, okay. That’s basically the mentality by which people get rich.

I remember reading somewhere else, one of the differences between poor people and rich people. Poor people, average people are afraid of money and afraid of success; they’re afraid of charging for things. Rich people aren’t. If you want to make money, you obviously have to charge. You have to create something that makes money and you can’t be afraid to charge for it. Don’t give it away for free. Don’t cast your pearls before swine.

Now, I’m not saying you should charge for everything. I mean, I guesstimate that over the course of my life, 90 to 95 percent of the writing I’ve put out is freely available online. The books I’ve published comprise maybe a tiny sliver of what I’ve actually written, but it’s the most valuable sliver; it’s the most valuable sliver that people are paying me for, okay. So I’m not saying you should be a total miser and completely refuse to give away any freebies or whatever, or not do anything like this.

What I’m saying is don’t devalue yourself. Value yourself, value your skills. That’s the only way you’re going to succeed in life and it’s the only way you’re going to be able to succeed at making money online at whatever. Again, I know it sounds corny, but you have to love yourself because if you don’t no one else will do it for you.

Illegitimi non carborundum, don’t let the bastards grind you down. I’m Matt Forney and I am out.

Read Next: We Are Free

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If you liked this post then you’ll like Confessions of an Online Hustler, my 140-page book that teaches you how to create a blog that will make you money. It contains writing and web design tips, strategies for getting readers, and debunks myths perpetuated by online scammers. Click here to learn more.

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  • Spike Gomes

    Course my problem is no one wants to pay shit for symbolist short stories/prose poetry. The only way I could get money for it would be to stand on street corners and recite it until someone got annoyed enough to pay me to go away.

  • Nataliya Kochergova

    It seems you first gave some away for free, and then monetized your talents (and continued to write some for free at the same time). I agree with Wayne Earl – your free stuff is your demonstration of value. I’m not impressed with those online sellers who don’t even give us a taste of what our money will buy us. I’m no expert in sales, but perhaps this is many companies and brands give you free samples and similar stuff – it makes you want more and buy more.