I am a Quickbooks pro advisor so people who have questions about their quickbooks can email me through the find an adivsor link. Most of the time, this results in clients emailing me about setting up their Quickbooks or an ongoing relationship.
However, I have had some who just have a question on how to record a transaction or like a simple question that would not constitute an ongoing thing. How would you handle this? They aren't my clients. Would you still just answer their question and not charge? Or would you charge like an hour rate? Or perhaps like you have a seperate amount that you charge for these things? I am still trying to figure out the best way and figured I would ask others about what they do :) You guys always seem to have great advice!
That's a great question and one I think has wide applicability outside accounting.
When I was doing web-design, I had friends of client's email me with simple one-off questions like "where do I add this line of code?" or "what do you recommend is a good add-on for (x) function in WordPress?" I always saw those as an easy way to grow my "brand equity" - it enhanced my reputation and gave proof that I could produce. I tried not to think too much about the actual $ lost with those conversations, I believe it all comes out in the wash in the end and you'll see the benefits down the road.
But absolutely know you're worth. Your time and knowledge are valuable. Set a standard and stick to it! One of my mentors taught me the importance of saying No when someone doesn't want to pay you what you think you're worth.
I've done both - charged by the hour and by the project depending on the complexity of my client's needs. I imagine you could do something similar if you're doing an initial setup or an evaluation.
I agree with @Rustler, give clients enough to go off of but offer a full consultation for the deep-dive. It's definitely good Karma.