One time when I was a kid, I was splashing around in a creek with a few friends of mine.
At one point one of the other boys happened to look down, and he saw something stuck to his leg.
It looked like a worm, but it was in fact—
I don't remember exactly what we did about this.
(Most kids nowadays would probably wind up in the emergency room.)
I'm pretty sure that he just went, “Gross!” and ripped it right off.
That's what productivity coach Sara wants to do to some of her email subscribers:
Hey Josh, since you're so awesome with answering questions, I've got to ask you this:
I listened to “a bunch of big time bloggers” who've suggested answering questions in forums, Facebook groups, etc. to build authority and create rapport with potential customers and subscribers.
Well, I did it.
What did I get? A few sales, yes. But what I really did was open a can-of-leeches (not worms—leeches) that have now flooded my inbox.
I'm talking daily emails chock full of unreasonable questions and requests from people who seemingly want me to run their businesses for them. And if I don't respond within a day or two, I get MORE emails asking if I got the last one—sometimes with all new questions they want me to answer too.
I'm generally a nice person. But I'm about ready to burst with “I no longer coach for a REASON” rude response to all of them.
Needless to say, I've ceased answering forum and FB Group questions…
Any suggestions on how I can handle this situation without being a total @$$hat about it?
As you can imagine, I get quite a few questions myself, since I'm always responding to them.
I'm lucky though—my subscribers generally ask thoughtful questions and respect my time.
Since Sara's in the productivity niche, she's probably getting slammed by unsuccessful business owners—the type who spend all day on Facebook, desperately emoting about how unproductive they are and looking for a “silver bullet” to fix their business.
They have all the time in the world to pester you, since they're procrastinating on moving their business forward…
So how can you get rid of leeches like this?
Well one way is to pour plain table salt on them.
Wait—sorry, that only works for *actual* leeches. (Might be worth a try though…)
Some better ideas:
– Ignore the emails. This is an option, although one I seldom use myself.
– Write up a form response that conveys: “I get so many questions these days that I can't possibly give your question here the attention that it deserves. However I've added it to my list of ideas for emails/blog posts/videos/whatever to cover in the future.” You don't have to use this form response every time, just when you get a question that you don't want to answer right then.
– Create a few entry-level products that cover the top questions you get. Then refer the leeches to the products and say, “Please go through this, and I'll be happy to answer specific questions you have afterward.”
– Block off a few hours a month as an “office hours day” where you'll answer questions for free to anyone who books a slot with you. Tell the leeches about this policy and put the onus on them to sign up.
– Train your audience to respect your time. You can drop hints about your hourly rate, how booked up your schedule gets, etc.
– Occasionally it's good to “make an example of” a time-waster. Call 'em out to your audience, and show why they're unsuccessful and will always be unsuccessful unless they shape up. A little tough love.
Whatever you do, don't just stand there and make a meal out of yourself.
‘Cuz unlike real world leeches that eventually have their fill and drop off—these leeches will NEVER let go.