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Tips to quit working for free

Have you too fallen into the trap of working for free? Part of being able to sell yourself as a business owner and to be respected is to have a price on what you do. The problem is that it's difficult to get a fair price in many industries. One has to cut prices and rates. We are told that ”This is a great chance to prove yourself”, but you know, it rarely is.

Here are the reasons:

The client doesn't take you seriously.
What you get for free is not worth as much as something you pay for. If you're going to give a lecture for free, for example, the client is not interested in getting enough, or sufficiently qualified, listeners to show up. You do all the work, the client takes no responsibility for making the event successful.

Your reputation is at stake
Anyone working for free is considered desperate and therefore not as good as the one who charges for his/her work.

The one who charges for a job does a better job
You will exert yourself much harder if you do a job you value - and take responsibility for it.

Anyone who works for free will end up in a discount-trap
The next time the client will hire you, they won't pay you the full price as promised when they first booked you. Instead you'll get a “decent fee”- or a new ”good chance to make a name for yourself.”

Look out for opportunities, but require commitment
Sometimes chances pop up out of the blue. There's nothing wrong in grabbing such an opportunity, even if it means that you will work without getting paid. Demand a commitment from the customer. What is happening with their company? Where and when exactly can you get a new assignment? What happens after your assignment? Do you get the addresses of all those who participate and benefit from what you give them? Make sure you get something tangible back.

Do something if you think it's fun
It's not wrong - but don't fool yourself into thinking that it's a business. If something feels like a really fun thing to – then do it. If it seems far-fetched that you will make money on it in the end – politely, but firmly reject the offer. Don't waste your energy thinking about what you may have lost.

Finally - face the facts that it's difficult to get paid
It's a pain in the butt, but if your skills are not valued, maybe it's time to figure out a way to make them valued.

About the author

Stefan Ekberg has worked in marketing for small business for 20 years and has written around 30 books on how small business owners can market themselves with limited resources. . In 2012 Stefan was nominated as Entrepreneur of the Year in Stockholm.

230 000 prescribes to his free newsletter "The 5 minute marketer"
Every week some 230,000 prescribers gets his free newsletter about 5 minute marketing.

"The 5 minute marketer" - the book
You run a small business and you want to get ahead of the competition, but how can you give resources to marketing when you're short on time and the budget is tight? The solution is here! The 5-Minute Marketer is packed with 395 tried-and-tested ways to market your business in 5 minutes or less.