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What I Won’t and Will Do for Free for You

November 15th, 2009 by Bob Bly

Every day readers contact me and ask for favors for which they do not want to pay me.

If you are one, here?s what I won?t and will do for you for free:

1?I won?t look at your web site and give you my comments or thoughts.

2?I will briefly reply personally (not an auto-responder or an assistant, but me) to any e-mail that logically seeks or requires a response.

3?I won?t read your sales letter, resume, or other copy you have written.

4?I won?t have lunch or coffee with you. (Amazing how many people expect me to give up over a thousand dollars worth of my billable time in exchange for buying me a grilled cheese sandwich.)

5?I will answer brief questions via phone or e-mail at no charge.

6?I won?t give you a free copy of one of my books or products because you plead hardship, unless you send me papers proving you have filed bankruptcy ? in which case I will.

7?I will refer you to qualified experts or vendors who can provide services you may need ? again at no charge (I accept no referral fee).

8?I won?t read or review your book or e-book manuscript. I want to (I love to read and collect books), but I simply do not have the time.

9?I won?t speak at or come to your club or organization?s meeting.

10?I will allow you to reprint some of my content on your site or elsewhere at no charge, as long as you credit me as the source and include a link to my web site.

11–I am highly unlikely to promote you or your product to my list unless I know you or you were referred to me by someone I know and trust.

12–I will politely decline your kind invitation to visit you at your home and hang out when I am in your state, as I almost never travel and therefore am unlikely to ever be in your state.

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This entry was posted on Sunday, November 15th, 2009 at 5:34 pm and is filed under General. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.

65 responses about “What I Won’t and Will Do for Free for You”

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  3. Gerold said:

    you didn’t say anything about your exceptions 😉 (no, serious: a good thought, making such a list)

  4. Fiona Fell said:

    Reading your list made me think a little more about the value I place on my time. And just how valuable it is to me. In both $ and love.

  5. Kurt said:

    Bob the Diva!

    What you hint on with your little rant brought me to a good question to ponder.

    Are there internet manners?

    Do we as a society feel that anyone we meet on the internet is automatically now part of our extended network? There is an unusual familarity with internet personalities but does that justify asking them for things that we would not from a normal professional?

    or am I all wrong and would it be accepted in internet society to ask an internet celeberty to read your manuscript and give you his advice on it free-of-charge and Bob is just getting what any celeberty gets?

  6. Shirley George Frazier said:

    Bob, I also receive the same requests at least twice a week.

    Your list proves that no matter what the industry, the same questions and offers prevail.

  7. Greg said:

    About seven years ago, I was in a bar in New Orleans having a couple of beers with a friend. Dustin Hoffman walked in to check the score of the football game on TV, I think.

    I was shocked — a little — when a couple of people went up to him.

    I have a ten foot rule. I stay at least ten feet away from any celebrity whom I recognize. I think a virtual ten foot rule for the Internet is not a bad idea.

  8. Kyle said:

    The grilled cheese sandwich lunch idea has baffled me for decades.

    I once had a sales lady tell me outright she wanted to buy me lunch because she might need favors from me in the future.

    So for $7 I owe you $500? Gee, thanks.

    But that grilled cheese, crisp on the edges…oh yea.

  9. Justin Bachelor said:

    I like the #6. Some people ask for your product for free even if they can buy it at any given amount. It’s actually reasonable that you set conditions on when to accept free service for others. Otherwise, people will abuse you and eat much of your time.

  10. Lou said:

    Bob:

    Your letter is reminiscent of a classic announcement by the famous American literary critic, Edmund Wilson.

    It’s a scream. Here’s a link to it:

    http://www.boingboing.net/2009/11/04/edmund-wilsons-all-p.html

  11. T said:

    What about this guy?

    http://www.thecopygod.com/

    Is “The Copy God” available to meet me for lunch? 🙂

  12. Steve Rainwater said:

    It IS truly amazing that consideration is not more obvious to some so-called professionals. Although I don’t have anywhere near your status and reputation, it is suprising how frequently I get asked to “review” or “provide suggestions” for someone I know, but not all that well, so that they can use my “suggestions” to create revenue.

    On the other hand, when one of my close friends (who would be allowed to make such requests) asked me to write him a cover letter with a quick turnaround, he said he didn’t even need a quote – just send him an invoice.

    One additional note – if you do ever travel through Midway Airport in Chicago (I read #12 – the odds are not good) try a Manny’s Ultimate (grilled cheese, thick bread, tomato and bacon). It could shed new light on the whole thousand dollar grilled cheese lunch thing for you. slr

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  15. Dustin said:

    What if I run into you at the supermarket and just happen to have a copy of one of your books on me? Would you autograph it and let me take a picture (with the camera I happen to have on me) of us together next to the cantaloupes? I’ll let you stand 10 feet behind me so I don’t break Greg’s rule. I’ll just explain to people as I show the picture, “Yeah, Bob Bly is a lot shorter in person.” While nodding my head reassuringly.

    On a serious note, I started my career as an illustrator. I can’t count how many people would tell me they had a great idea for a book and wanted me to illustrate it (on spec) before they pitched it to the publisher. Doesn’t work that way… for a reason.

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  18. Maricel85 said:

    You can’t give anything for free if you are professional in that particular field. However, you could actually give some free comments for example, but never ever say all your ideas.

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