Why I Answer Short E-mails for Free


This paragraph from “Fred” was the first paragraph of a rather long letter. He wrote:

“Thank you for the fast reply. It is nice that you care, but if you’d allow me to ask, what makes you answer people’s e-mails for free? I don’t mean to be rude so excuse me…..”

Here is my reply:


Hi Fred!

You know, you are the first person who ever asked me this after I just met them – even though a lot of people wonder and would probably like to ask.

I’m so glad someone finally asked me about this that I’m going to give you a very thorough answer (and I think I’ll post it on my web site after I send it to you).

First of all I want to say that I don’t answer e-mail for free forever. I start charging after the first letter. But the question is still a good one because I answer a lot of free e-mails.

Here are all of the reasons I’m aware of about why I do it. I’ve even listed them “in order of importance”…:

  1. I enjoy my work! I enjoy it so much that a lot of it feels like a hobby to me.
  2. Here’s the “sappiest” reason: I really do care about people and, since I was raised in a very poor neighborhood, I am well aware that: some people can’t pay high therapy fees, many people are reluctant to even consider therapy, and, frankly, many people are just not well-educated enough about therapy to realize its value. (This is also why I keep my fees so low. I’m well aware that millions of people are sending about $4 a minute to “Psychic Friends” and other such ridiculous things in the false hope that it will help them to a better life – and that most of them would be a lot better off spending that money on therapy. But I don’t think that their desperation should hurt them. I just hope a few of them will come across my site some day, look at my prices, and think “maybe I’ll give this thing a shot too” – and that my free letters will be helpful to all of them, and longer term e-mail and telephone work will end up being right for many of the rest.)
  3. I really believe that a lot of the people who write to me don’t need any more than a few well-considered responses to get their lives back on some “usual track” that they are pleased about. They could use more, of course, but something is better than nothing!
  4. One of the biggest problems therapists have is what to do during the hours when they have canceled appointments or just don’t have anyone scheduled. When those times come around I simply go to my computer and start answering e-mail. I do earn a little from this each day, but not enough to matter financially.
  5. I’m 56 years old as I write this, and I’m looking ahead to a “working retirement.” I want to be able to travel a lot and still work with people in a therapeutic way. Some time after I reach retirement age I expect to be earning much of my income on the telephone or through e-mail (but I’ve got a lot of years left before I’d want this goal to becomes a reality).
  6. I love the feeling that I can choose to answer e-mail at any time of the day or night, and that I don’t have to schedule it. (I’ve never liked feeling that I must obey a clock.)
  7. I believe that one of the best ways to sell something is to give it away free. And some of the people I give my samples to do end up working with me and paying me regularly. (I only wanted enough income from this to supplement my in person practice, and that was achieved long ago, so this reason isn’t very important any more.)

Well, these are all of the reasons I’m aware of.

I will put this on my web site, so if I think of any more reasons some day I may add them there.

Thanks for the question!

I’ll respond to the rest of your letter separately now….

Tony S

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