Should I Start Charging a Consulting Fee?

Where the author mulls over whether he should start charging a consulting fee for his knowledge and services in Colombia.

free advice

Image courtesy of http://frenne.com/free-advice/. I guess I am similar but can be found in coffee shops, pubs and at my desk

I get contacted a great deal, it’s of my doing of course, the blogs, the radio show, the hotel, the journalism and the incessant social media spamming of loved ones, friends and associates when I’ve got something to pitch or find something of interest. By no means an expert on how to relocate to Colombia I am receiving more and more mail to this end. It’s encouraging. Colombia is advancing.

People always suggest that I start charge a consulting fee. And, while this may sound attractive and a relatively straightforward manner in which to earn a few welcome pesos, I started to reflect on this a few weeks ago. Sure, I have a radio show on an expat station, have contributed to guidebooks and do my best to be as familiar and as informative as possible to all those who contact requiring information or a little coaxing in the right direction. Yes, there are those who cannot be budged, so adamantly fixed to plans, itineraries or motivated by fear. But, those individuals who have gone so far as to write an email and organize a Skype chat are clearly already snared by the Colombia bug.

Colombia Bug

Face it, we’ve all caught the Colombia bug!

There was someone who cancelled their reservation in the Casa Amarilla in January 2013 due to the kidnapping of the two German pensioners as he clearly felt far from his comfort zone in Colombia. And, as he said, being from Japan this would clearly set him apart from the crowd. He’s not wrong, he would have been exotic in Mompós and while his fear of being kidnapped stemmed from over-zealous reporting in the mainstream media, I can understand his concern. There’s no information out there to either reassure or repudiate such fears short of a glossy government funded publicity campaign. It’s irrelevant that the kidnapping took place more than 400km east of us.

But, were I to charge a consulting fee, who would pay? This was a topic of conversation the other day when I was chatting to another expat who is incredibly successful and busy running several entrepreneurial ventures here. We laughed to begin with but then the feeling was one of resignation. No one would pay for this kind of consulting.

Why? I think it’s down to a key element of the way that I have marketed myself, out there through the social media ether. I appear approachable and affable; at least I hope I present this kind of personality. People who “follow” or “download” my updates, articles and shows feel as if they have entered into some sort of non-contractual impersonal friendship with me. And of course, this is milked to ensure that I drive more people to my hotel, garner more listeners and can drive a “brand” worthy of receiving an advertising revenue and opening further options for articles.

brand

What does my trusted “brand” represent?

Who ever really thought that I would have to move into sales and marketing? When did I become so cynical? I will maintain that if a website or radio show is of high quality content, surely it can draw people in, but at what cost? With so much information out there, and while experts will find the news or pages that are relevant to them, how do you appeal to those internauts who we can refer to as “John Major’s Floating Voters”? The answer simple, they need to be nudged, reminded or that dreadful Facebook term, “poked”.

Either our cynicism has reached as yet untold heights, or this is just the way things are going with so much available and free information out there. But, then, if there is so much that is accessible and readable, why do people keep reaching out. There is a vast scope for improvement on the information provided about Colombia. We must keep pushing the envelope, writing, broadcasting and publicizing the country. If we can inform, we can improve. If we can participate we can be of service to this country we call home.

And finally, if I did not want to be contacted, then I wouldn’t be advertising myself all over the place.

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