How to Stop Working for Free
The simplest way to stop working for free is to simply say No. No is a complete sentence and it needs to be one that you practice. Click To Tweet
This post would be primarily for consultants and people in service-based businesses, who don’t necessarily have a tangible product that they sell. There are others with a tangible product but work with people who don’t understand the real value of what you do such as graphics design, photography, etc. who may benefit from this as well.
Scenario – A friend, associate, or company calls and asks you to execute a piece of work for free. You really want to say no but you have said yes in the past and so they are back again expecting you will do the same.
- Use technology as a barrier. Before agreeing to quickly, say you will call back, if by email or messenger/inbox/watsapp/etc. acknowledge the query and promise to respond in a timely fashion. Do some research on the project if you are unfamiliar with it? Was there money attached to it? Why are they showing up now asking for free? Does your friend have the means to otherwise compensate you? Would she ask others to work for free as well?
- Respond with an opening that states what it will cost for you to work with them. “My fee for a basic consultation such as this is _______. If you wish for me to provide ongoing support we can discuss a retainer or another payment structure.” Have your rates clearly defined. If you believe you can be of added value state that and offer to sit with them to have a more in-depth proposal on how you can support them for a fee. Do have your contract/agreement ready to close the deal.
- Invent a business manager or adviser. For some people, it is just hard to say no and especially if you have always worked for free in the past. Create a go-between if one doesn’t currently exist. “My business manager has indicated we’ve already reached our quota for pro bono work this month and can’t take on additional projects. My business adviser says we cannot do this piece of work for free.” Whatever it takes if you are not able to simply say No.
- So you said Yes. What next? Is it Yes with conditions or without? If you are happy to do the work and will be okay with just the warm fuzzy feeling, knowing you helped a friend, did your good deed AGAIN, more power to you. But don’t say Yes knowing that you HOPE they will give you a cut if they win the contract, introduce you to others in their network, or do some other favor and you have not told them this is what you want. At the very least, ask them to supply a testimonial for the work you’ve done. If you wish for them to make an introduction on your behalf in return, then say so up front. We often assume they will return to say thank you but it isn’t often the case. Only you can ask for what you want to have from the deal.
I trust this helps and hope you practice putting some distance between you and another free gig before counting the cost. Please share this post or the video below. Stay Blessed.