Should I Give Everything I Know about Publishing Away for Free?

It’s funny… People will pay top dollar for a good cup of coffee, but then those same people head over to Facebook, ask a question, and get upset if I give a short answer that’s “not long enough.” Today I was taking a break from my busy schedule to answer a couple of questions in a new Facebook group I recently joined. Then another question was raised and my answer was, “The answer would be too long to post in a Facebook comment. In fact it’s so long I’m detailing it in an almost 90-minute session in an upcoming course.” I didn’t post a link to the course, I simply was trying to state the fact that Facebook comments weren’t the place for that detailed of an answer, and I wasn’t going to answer it that way.

That one little comment started a comment war… and a string of comments from a few people upset at me asking if I’d only answer the question if they “paid for my course.” All of a sudden several people were saying things like, “In a previous comment you said you had no problem sharing.” When they conveniently ignored the rest of my answer in that comment that said, “I have no problem sharing… where appropriate.” And here’s the thing about answering questions… One leads to another, then another, and before I know it, I’ve got an entire training I’ve just given away on Facebook for free to people who will probably never buy anything from me. Why would I invest all that time and energy when I already give away tons of free content in my free webinars, this blog, guest interviews, etc.?

Here’s the thing… I’ve been in the publishing industry since 2003. I’ve spent well over six figures on coaches, training programs, workshops, seminars, software, training for that software, etc. Not to mention my own time investment learning my trade and becoming one of the most well-respected experts in the publishing industry. What’s funny is that people seem to have no problem handing tens of thousands of dollars over to a university to earn a piece of paper that says they “know something,” when they usually aren’t even learning from people with real world experience. (Yes, I have one of those pieces of paper… a real, honest 4-year degree in Fine Art, and I can tell you the real world people I’ve learned from have been waaayyyy more worth the investment than the debt I owed the government for years.)

So while I don’t mind answering a quick question on Facebook or sharing a resource, I will NOT give away everything in my head for free. There’s a hard line in the sand that I will. not. cross.

Why do I respect the line? First of all, there’s so much information stored in my cranium that it would make most newbie authors’ brains overload (just ask any of my students… lol). And secondly, I’ve paid dearly for the information in my head, both in time and money.

Here’s the hard truth… Sure, you can learn a lot from the internet. You can get a lot of people’s conflicting opinions on matters such as ISBNs, what printer to use, what designer to use, to even use a designer, to edit or not edit, etc. You can waste hours of your life digging deeper into the hole of confusion.


You can invest a little time and money in a real world expert who not only has been there and done that, but has learned themselves, taught others, and become one of the top experts in their industry.

I can’t tell you how many times I’ve talked with my customers who spend years trying to figure out something when I gave them the solution in less than 10 minutes. That’s when I hear things like, “I wish I’d known you then” or “Why didn’t I do this sooner?”

So now I want to ask you a question…

Do you expect people who make a living at something to coach you or train you for free? And the even BIGGER question to ask is, do you expect other people to ask YOU to give THEM answers for free, if that’s what you do to put food on your table and clothes on your kids’ backs?

Now I’m making a stand, and I want YOU to stand with me. It’s time for us all to:

RESPECT each other. Respect the experts around you. Quit tire kicking and quit trying to get advice for free.

RESPECT yourself. Respect yourself enough to invest in yourself. Invest in quality training. Invest the time.

RESPECT your tribe. There are a lot of people who are ready and willing to pay for the knowledge in your head. And I can guarantee you from personal experience (both myself and observed in others) that when people pull out their wallets for information, they’re more likely to take action on that information and actually do something. They respect what they pay for. And they’ll respect you more.

It’s time for us to quit being cheap-asses. To stop testing the waters to see just how much information we can squeeze from experts without opening our wallets. It’s time for us to value each others’ knowledge and expertise. And it’s time for YOU to take a stand and quit resenting when people take information, coaching, etc. from you for free. After all, if you’re not respecting that hard line in the sand and continue giving it to them, there’s only ONE person you can blame for them continuing to ask you for free advice and training—YOURSELF.

If you’re ready to invest in yourself, click here to grab an “On Demand” laser coaching session with me today.

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  • Sallie
    February 21, 2017

    Totally agree Kristen! Years ago, I was a pro riding instructor (with a degree) with all of the overhead to go with it: boarding stable, arena, dressage ring, cross-country course, show horses, enough tack for every possible sized horse I might get in training, etc… and yet, there was always those people who would hang around and pick my brain but never actually pay for lessons or training. One was so bad she even went so far as to trailer her horse in to use my arena (which I generously allowed for a measly $5 fee) and then while riding she would yell questions at me all the way across the field. When I would walk over to the arena and remind her the lessons cost money she would act all put out like “can’t you just answer one or two hundred of my questions for free?” This went on weekly for over a year until I finally realized that while I was worrying about being polite and professional and not wanting to hurt her feelings…she was showing ZERO consideration for me and my feelings. At that point, I told her to leave. She stuttered and spluttered and made excuses and even teared up, but I stuck to my guns and ordered her off the property “until she decided she was willing to actually pay for lessons like everyone else.” (I was only charging $25 for a lesson at the time. C’mon.) Sometimes you just gotta do what you just gotta do. 😉

  • Derek Murphy
    September 15, 2015

    Good luck with that! I understand where you’re coming from; I used to spend a lot of time on emails and in Facebook answering questions. The thing that always bothered me was rookies with no experience arguing with me (veteran, having helped publish over 1000 books).
    And now that I have courses coming out, I’ll probably be a little more cautious with my information. Or not, actually. I suggest reading “The Curve.” It’s fine to have tons of free content and lots of high priced content too. You don’t make money without a big following and traffic. Giving free help grew my list to 13K and got me started… I use the free stuff to drive traffic and sales to the paid stuff, and it works like a charm.

    • Derek Murphy
      September 15, 2015 Derek Murphy

      But also, yeah – people on Facebook have become lazy and greedy… they won’t sit through a course, they don’t want to read a book or learn, they just want to ask their Q’s and have people give them free advice. Those aren’t the people you can really help anyway. I find when people pay for things, they take it seriously, so you’re actually doing them a favor if you put a pricetag on it.

  • Khrys Vaughan
    August 1, 2015

    Here, here! I keep a link to the Vendor-Client video on hand for moments like this ( and will now add your post also 🙂 Technology has aided in commoditization & created an environment where quality & value are expected to be free. It’s a lack of respect & they forget that one day someone will look at their offering the same.

  • Richard Carter
    July 26, 2015

    Hi! I too have spent over a $100,000 in programs, products and more. I also read them and have used many parts and few parts of some of them. Many were good and others were knock offs~! Try to get refunds for those! Try to get refunds that were copies! LOL My wife and I were lucky — I think we got maybe 25% of the monies back. Worse is we lost 70% of the money we paid for med bills and more when WC was supposed to pay the bills. Treatment 15% of the time for 30 years. It happens and I pray we all deal ethically. That’s what Kristen is saying I believe and I agree with. It’s stealing otherwise and a commandment! I have a new book coming that hopefully will help us remember what is important! Remind me too! Too many have forgotten. We’re here to help each other not hurt! Let’s get on with it! =)

  • Suzette Mariel
    July 26, 2015

    You have given away an incredible amount of information that is worth and undefinable amount. It’s unfortunate that we live in a world where people have expectations that they deserve more without paying. I’ve purchased several of your programs and am blown away by your generosity of free content, and unexpected bonuses within your paid content.

    As an expert as well I admire your stance in keeping a firm line while pointing the way to your current free content. Thanks for sharing an enlightening post to the world!

  • Mary Johnson
    July 25, 2015

    I agree with you, 100%. I just listened to your free journal training webinar – you gave some great value. I only wish I could afford to sign up for your training. I hope to in the future!

  • Patty Gale
    July 23, 2015

    Bravo!!! I totally agree. I’ve been online for about the same length of time as you. I finally drew the line in the sand in my business a couple of years ago. It blows my mind when I see someone who isn’t willing to pay to learn a new skill or who wants to ‘pick my brain’ for free, yet has no trouble paying $100 a month for cable. I’ve had people ask me, ‘Oh, could you just take a look and review my website?’ I enjoy helping people because I really do want to see them succeed. At the same time, as very wise client once told me years ago, ‘Free does not feed your family.’

  • Janeen Kilgore
    July 23, 2015

    As a purchasing consumer of expert advice, I value it more if I pay for it. There are places to get some information for free and I appreciate that. I don’t ask doctors, dentists, or lawyers for free, why would I with something also as valuable as a career?

  • Shannon Smith
    July 23, 2015

    There is so much yes in this post. I wish I was better at drawing that line myself.

  • Natalie Marie Collins
    July 23, 2015

    You are so right on cue! I think the saying “talk is cheap” is misused. Talking, such as gabbing, catching up with a friend, etc., is cheap, yes, because it doesn’t hold value.

    Talk that includes information that will actually improve your life is valuable and should be respected as such.

    Good for you for holding tight to your boundaries! I applaud you!