Every once in awhile you read something that hits you right and yet there's not much you can do with it except think about it and share it. That's pretty much what I'm doing here today, based off a post by a lady named Sharon Hayes called 7 Reasons Why I Can’t Do “Free”.

In her post, she talks about why she had to stop giving away her time by doing "free" things for other people. I thought it was all quite compelling, and I would have commented on it except you have to sign into your Facebook account to comment on her posts and frankly, that's just not my style.

Here are her 7 points for comment:

1. The Time It Takes
2. It Takes Away From My Paying Customers
3. It Zaps My Creative Juice
4. Most People Don’t Value Things They Get For Free
5. I’m a Professional Who Works Online
6. It Doesn’t Stop at One Request
7. Quality Control, Responsibility & Reputation Issues

Can I identify? Absolutely. We're not talking about the type of advice or assistance given in posting blogs or articles. We're talking about those people who end up taking advantage of you in ways that they may not know they're doing, and at the same time reducing your value to them because they don't see you in the proper light.

I'll give an example. Some of you know I also have a website called Medical Billing Answers. When I created it, the idea was that it would give information to those not in the industry that wanted to know what some terms they'd probably heard in their lives meant. I had also set it up so that people could write me and ask me any questions they had about their medical bills; trying to help.

I got a couple of those questions, but the majority of questions I got came from medical billing and coding people. And they didn't just want their questions answered, they wanted the proof.

After so many years in the industry, I've accumulated a lot of knowledge. And when I was an employee I had a lot of information at my fingertips as well. But as a consultant in multiple fields I don't keep that stuff readily available because I don't need it all the time. A lot of information is obtained at seminars; you can bet that I'm not keeping a lot of that stuff laying around either after so many years.

I found that every once in awhile trying to find something could take as long as an hour. This would be after I'd already answered someone's question; in essence, I was now being taken advantage of, and I didn't initially see it.

So I instituted something on the site which said I would now answer questions but I was charging $4.95 for it. Yes, that's all. And in the last two years, I've only had 2 people pay me for responses to their questions; can you believe that?

Let's look at those 7 items again. The time it takes; check. Takes away from paying customers; check. Zaps my creative juice; well, not really, but see #1. Most people don't value things they get for free; they didn't trust my answer unless I could prove it to them so check. I'm a professional working online; check. It doesn't stop at one request; check.

Quality control, responsibility & reputation issues... well, this one's different. To me, these are always issues one has, whether they work for themselves or someone else. I always work on doing the best I can. I always feel responsible for everything I recommend or say so there's nothing new there. And reputation is always something I worry about, whether I'm being serious or goofy (I'm not all that goofy though).

Still, 6 out of 7 is indicative of the fact that when we offer free services or products here and there, we have to concern ourselves with not only what kind of value others might get out of it, but what kind of value it shows us to be.

What a strange way to run a business, eh?