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Thread: consulting vs. offering free advice

  1. #1
    FK M.D. pheck's Avatar
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    consulting vs. offering free advice

    i recently gave some advice to this other flash developer. he wanted a 3D heart animated. i told him i could easily do that for him. he mentioned he was familiar with swift 3D as well. so i went to 3dcafe, grabed a heart mesh, and exported a heart (one frame) for him to look at and see if he wanted something like that. he said that was perfect, and if he could buy the mesh off me instead of an animation. i told him that ethically, i could not. if he wanted it to beat or be otherwise be animated in some way, i could help with that (3d max). it was not my mesh. so instead i gave him a lot of information about where to get it, gave him a url to a mesh search engine, and offered all i knew on dealing with 3d cafe and their licensing requirements, as i have delt with them a lot in the past. i asked him for a small consulting fee if he found this information useful. and overall, he spent 30-60 minutes of my time. i figured being upfront and honest with him, and giving him a lot of useful information would be considered valuable to him. i guess i was wrong, since i haven't heard back from him since. even with one kindly-worded follow up email on my part.

    so my q is what do i do in the future in this kind of situation? do i say "i have some valuable information, and if you want it you can hire me as a consultant?" that seems strange. i almost want to publish this guys site so you guys can go spam him or suck his bandwidth or something, but that'd be evil right?

    i just thought that was totally unfair and dishonest of him to just take my valuable information that i acquired through hours of research and run. it's like he filled his tank with gas and didn't pay the attendant. i even left the dollar amount open to him, with some recommendations based on my normal hourly rate.

    any ideas? suggestions? for now or the future? any similiar stories?

  2. #2
    Bad Monkey qetret's Avatar
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    hmmm my advice: live with it. Thats life I'm afraid.

  3. #3
    FK M.D. pheck's Avatar
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    i realize "that's life," and i am "living with it."

    i was hoping for some useful advice from the folks who have dealt with similiar situation(s).

  4. #4
    Modding with Class JabezStone's Avatar
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    Pheck,

    I agree that it seems the guy should have at least said, "Thanks!"

    The problem is, you broke the cardinal rule of freelancing, whether it's for web development, illustration, photography, whatever... "never do work without pay or contract, if you want to get paid at all". Actually, I don't know if that's the cardinal rule or not, but it sure sounded good!

    I think that if you asked him about the consulting fee first (which I have no problem with) you could gripe, but since you gave him your valuable goods first, you're at the mercy of his conscience.

    On another note, I think your time and experience is definitely with a value, but at the same time, I have sponged so much information off Flashkit and it's resources for free that I feel somewhat obligated to help others out when needed... to a certain degree. You've been very helpful in many ways here, though, so no gripes from me, really.

    Anyway, that's my tired, 2 am input!

    Later,

    Jay

  5. #5
    FK M.D. pheck's Avatar
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    Thanks JS,

    Great advice. I'll have to keep that in mind for the future. Reminds me of that story.

    Guy asks a successful guy:

    "how did you get successful?"

    "experience"

    "how did you get experience"

    "making mistakes"

    I'm all for helping others out, and try to do so on help forums all over the place (flash-db.com, fk, were-here when it was-there, FJF, etc), but when someone emails me off my contact form on my biz site, i consider that business. if he had asked the same thing in the boardroom it would have been a different story for me. oh well, chalk that one up to experience.

  6. #6
    Modding with Class JabezStone's Avatar
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    Originally posted by pheck
    ...but when someone emails me off my contact form on my biz site, i consider that business.
    True that!

    Looks like you've another section to add to your website... "services > consulting".

    Although I don't go into much detail on my site about it, I included it in the "websites" area for just this reason. I have had a few requests just for consulting, and one is a recurring customer. It's worth considering!

    J
    Last edited by JabezStone; 02-15-2003 at 11:30 AM.

  7. #7
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    Pheck I feel your pain.

    I have personally come to accept that part of my role in this world is too help other people with computer/design/development questions. It can sometimes be a real drag when you run into a person such as that one but many times you have the chance of creating a loyal relationship with a person who in the future will help you in some way. Call it karma or whatever yo want but I think it's true.

    So in cases where it's some guy out of the blue e-mailing me I may be a little more vauge with my answer. However if it is someone I know/know of then I will help them.

    I feel sorry for the other guy more. He has damage his relationship with an obviously intelligent and resourceful person. An example that happened to me was I was helping some guy with his site 4-5 years back, a friend I guess you could say at the time, I didn't charge him because of his financial situation. However a year went by and the site did well for him. He asked for help now and then and I mentioned that I would like some sort of compensation for the work. He said he would take care of me but never did, so one day I stopped answering his calls and e-mails, cut him off if you will. Then he called one day literally crying for help adn offering me money and I said sorry I can't assist you. I hadn't lost anything really but my time, which although valuable was not as costly to me as I was to him.

    For what it's worth.

  8. #8
    Moderator RazoRmedia's Avatar
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    if this flash developer asks you for any advice, simply charge him a consultancy fee and add a bit extra for this example.

    alternatively, outsource some work to him and ask him to repay the favour for nothing.
    Living the dream

  9. #9
    FK M.D. pheck's Avatar
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    hey great idea razor. i just emailed him to see if he'd be willing to write the script emenem and i were talking about in the other thread here

  10. #10
    Moderator RazoRmedia's Avatar
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    let us know how it works out pheck.

    oh and what script?
    Living the dream

  11. #11
    FK M.D. pheck's Avatar
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    Originally posted by RazoRmedia
    oh and what script?
    come on mod, you should be reading EVERYTHING that goes down here as if it were gospel (j/k). here's a hint: you'd be a FOOL to think you can find it at the end of the rainbow.

  12. #12
    Moderator RazoRmedia's Avatar
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    Originally posted by pheck
    come on mod, you should be reading EVERYTHING that goes down here as if it were gospel (j/k). here's a hint: you'd be a FOOL to think you can find it at the end of the rainbow.
    sorry pheck, I normally ignore any thread you post in
    Living the dream

  13. #13
    Monkey Wrangler monsterfx's Avatar
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    Hmm...

    You know, I've always felt that as a "computer person" (I spent time in both training and support prior to interactive development) I could empathize with medical professionals on being hit up for free advice (hey, could you look at this rash... || hey, my computer's been real slow on the Internet lately... ).

    Pheck, you being both a medical professional and computer guy, I can only imagine the amount of free advice you get hit up for.

    -monster.

  14. #14
    Moderator RazoRmedia's Avatar
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    I've got a friend who is a mechanic.

    I recently asked him to have a look at my car as it wasn't running as it should have been. He messed about under the bonnet for about 20 minutes and fixed the problem. He used no new parts, just his own skills. "Just give me £20" he said, so I did.

    About 2 months later, he called me round to sort his computer out. He'd bought a new modem and couldn't install it (apparently it wasn't compatible with Windows ME which was on his machine).

    He had a copy of Windows XP from work so I installed that for him, sorted his nightmare of a modem out, signed him up to an ISP, showed him how to connect to his email etc and also connected up his old peripherals. I even installed an old sound card of mine on his machine

    Total time taken was about 2 hours.

    "nice one" he said, "I'll buy you a pint later".

    Whats the difference? By his calculations, he should owe me £120.

    Which part of society doesn't appreciate our skills? Fair enough, he has learnt his trade and should be rewarded for it but I went to college for 2 years and university for 4 years as well as about 5 years of continuous training in the industry. Do I not deserve to be rewarded too or is computer knowledge one of those things that everyone can do as a favour.

    Sorry but this is boll*cks. I for one believe this is simply because we have kids messsing about with flash offering work for nothing, our whole industry has become devalued, we are nothing short of over-educated kids.

    From now on, if I ask a favour off a mate, I will not pay them, this is ridiculous.

    [rant over, normal service will now resume]
    Living the dream

  15. #15
    An Inconvenient Serving Size hurricaneone's Avatar
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    Is what's really being discussed here where the line should be drawn between friends and associates?

    Seems to me that maybe some types (unfamiliar that computer work is not all click and SHAZZAM!) are unaware of where the line is located and will pass by it without noticing. The result of this is they assume your time and experience is a freebie, resulting in the need to either educate as to 'how it all works', which if repeatedly ignored (read twice), could mean a quick trip to 'thought they were OK, but ended up being to**ers' land.

    Even the brief education I mentioned could be enough to make them assume you're just out to get into their wallets, so if that's the case, they'll probably bugger off on their own accord. Better off without if that's the case.
    Stand by for emergency synapse rerouting

  16. #16
    FK M.D. pheck's Avatar
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    This guy's a real piece of work. The small amount of money at hand doesn't bother me, it's the principle behind it. Helping people out is a passion of mine, but when something is so clearly business, it burns me a bit. monster, you're right about the free advice stuff in the med and this field, but that's why we're drawn to this field and why i like almost all you guys ; we're all to some extent givers.

    This is somewhat humorous and reminds me of Scott's recent verizon adventure, so i'll share:

    Dear Mr. Rxxx,

    I am sorry you feel that way. I too deal with potential clients 2-3 hours per day, but I do not give out the kind of advice without a consultancy fee. Usually I ask for it up front, but because we are both designers I thought I would be congenial and give it to you beforehand. You can try to justify it anyway you like, but to me this is a [insert play on words with his company name here] (pun intended). It’s too bad, but I can live with it. It sounds like you can live with yourself. Good luck to you in the future. It’s only $20 I was asking for, so it certainly won’t break my back.

    Phil Ecker
    President
    Doctored Media
    http://www.doctoredmedia.com

    -----Original Message-----
    From: Dxxxx Rxxxx
    Sent: Tuesday, February 18, 2003 6:50 AM
    To: Phil Ecker
    Subject: Re: No problem

    On 2/18/03 4:27 AM, "Phil Ecker" wrote:

    Dear Mr. Rxxx,

    It seems you are not interested in paying a consultant fee. Would you be willing to help me out with a small project instead? Some online colleagues and I were discussing an idea, and I’d love to see it implemented. It involves some PHP or ASP scripting. Do you do any such coding? Thanks in advance.

    Phil Ecker
    President
    Doctored Media
    http://www.doctoredmedia.com

    Phil,
    Sorry for the delay. My main development machine died. I have spent the last few days installing my new one. I lost your email when the system died. I do understand about your time. But understand that I was seeing what was available and if you guys “could” do the work. I get calls all day from perspective clients and spend probably 2-3 hours per day. I think when dealing with perspective clients it is a given that you would spend any time discussing the project. I was actually just going to have you create the animation but after your email asking for money I just turned to another vendor. I apologize for any time I “wasted”.

    I do strictly flash development so I am sorry that I can not help you with your coding.
    Thanks,
    Dxxxx
    Can i get a show of hands on who thinks this guy actually "turned to another vendor?" he's a self-proclaimed swift 3d guy.
    Last edited by pheck; 02-18-2003 at 10:09 PM.

  17. #17
    tell me, is this sellable..... OddDog's Avatar
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    Razor that is a great story about you and the mechanic. I will have to remember it. I may even steal ot from you and turn myself into the long suffering it hand (with you permision of course, but you will give it wont you?).

    Yes the industry is undervalued. And yes it is probably because of the kids. To get away from them you need to move up to the mid sized companies, who in general are more realistic and do not consider touching a pubescent multimedia designer...


    Pheck feel for you buddy....

    Reckon you should have been straight up on the deal. Up front on the pay me for my time or nothing doing ..

    hey next time ...

    and the difference from a mail from the web site adn a request for help from this forum is that here we all learn from each others mistakes, and from the good stuff we do and share the info on.

  18. #18
    Moderator RazoRmedia's Avatar
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    course you can have it love, whats mine is yours
    Living the dream

  19. #19
    ScreenResolution
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    Originally posted by RazoRmedia
    Whats the difference? By his calculations, he should owe me £120.
    I reckon the best approach would be to disguise your request for payment as a favour - before you do the work say "yeah I'll pop over and sort your machine out for you, and seeing as you helped me out with my motor i'll only charge you £x for it"

    You're making it clear you want something in return but he's also getting a great deal.

    That's my thoughts anyway.

    O.

  20. #20
    An Inconvenient Serving Size hurricaneone's Avatar
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    Originally posted by Owen Sutton
    "yeah I'll pop over and sort your machine out for you, and seeing as you helped me out with my motor i'll only charge you £x for it"
    O.
    That's a good one, simple message wrapped in a pseudo-funny candy coating. Certainly makes it clear that your time is not free, while not being too 'in the face' about it.

    Of course, it'd be nice not to have to deliver this message at all, but sometimes, there's no getting around it.
    Stand by for emergency synapse rerouting

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