I know many freelancers or business owners have this thing against doing work for free for a potential client. Some common arguments that I hear include “Why should we allow ourselves to be taken advantage of?”, “We should be paid well for our professionalism and expertise”, and “even prostitutes get paid. We are worse than prostitutes.”
Let me start by saying that clearly there is no right and wrong answer to this. Of course we should all be paid for our talent, skills, hardwork, etc. I think it’s quite clear the reasons WHY we should be paid. So I am not going to spend much time talking about that. Also, there will be people in this world that will try to make use of us and get a freebie from us. I have heard them all. “You can use this as your portfolio in future.” “This can lead to much bigger projects if the upper management likes this”. “We don’t have much budget this year but next year we will definitely pay you.”
There WILL always be people out to scam us. But let me tell you this. They will always be in the minority.
So why will doing something for free for a client bring benefit to you?
The answer is simple. In the long run, because of a mentality of always constantly finding ways to give and to provide value, you will definitely reap the benefits. But most people are impatient and they want to close the deal and to earn money, even at heavily discounted prices up front. You see the difference between charging a low price and giving something away free is this. Charging a low price cheapens your product or service. But giving something away free gives you so much more leverage. When you keep giving, you can always guilt the people who receive into giving back. Not the next day. Or even the next month. But somehow, some time, I promise you. You will reap the benefits.
From my own experience, those big clients of mine had always started with something free I do for them. A prototype that they can show their bosses. Something simple to show that we deliver good quality service. Or even an urgent job and they are unable to get the finance to sign off. I’ve done them all and those jobs that I do for FREE, almost always result in bigger projects later on. Of course you got to deliver a good product or service cause nothing can ever substitute that. But if you are good at what you do and can provide a quality service or product, then I urge you. Go out there and try to find companies and offer to do something to them for FREE.
If you want more business, do it for free. Keep giving. Don’t expect anything in return. Don’t start having a bad attitude when the potential new client did not give you anymore jobs after your free service. Smile and look for another new potential client. Then give again.
Of course I understand that we all have expenses and responsibilities in life. I am not suggesting that you quit everything and only start doing FREE things for people. You can take up a job and do FREE things for people on the side. What you have is TIME. And please don’t tell me that phrase that I hate the most. “I don’t have time.” EVERYBODY has time. It’s only a priority of time. If you prioritise watching TV, sleeping late, going to clubs to hook up with chicks, going for a holiday, etc. Then it’s YOUR CHOICE. Don’t complain that you don’t have time or that you are not killing it in life. And let me get this straight. If you are perfectly happy with your 9 to 5 job, and your family and work life balance, then it’s awesome. No one’s judging. But today, if you are not satisfied in your business or the money you are bringing in, then this is what you can do.
In your FREE time, offer to do something FREE for potential clients.
When you do this, three things will happen. 1. You train your mind to start thinking about giving and being more selfless. Giving is an extremely powerful mentality and action. 2. You will also be expanding your list of contacts and potential clients. Even if there is no further business from the company or client that you offer your FREE service to, your good work can easily get a good word of mouth and someone else could be alighted to your talent. 3. Lastly, and perhaps most importantly, when you give to someone unconditionally, it’s most likely from a human psychology that they will feel they owe you a favor. So naturally, they will consider giving something back to you.
And again, I stress that there will always be people who will try to take advantage of you. But trust me. Doing the right thing is always the right thing. Thing far. Think bigger. Go further.