Should Freelancers Ever Work for Free?

You've just been asked to work for free, perhaps with a promise of "great exposure." What should you do?

working for free

Whether it comes from a family member or even a potential new client, most freelancers have been asked to work for no pay. Perhaps the request was from a family member that doesn't realize the amount of time put in to the request, or from a client who would like a trial run before hiring a new freelancer. But should freelancers ever work for free?

The question has stirred up debates among freelancers, some insisting it's necessary to work for free in order to get started, others saying that it devalues the work and brings the price for that work down. There's merit to both sides of the argument – here's what freelancers should consider when they're asked to work for free.

Value matters.

Say you are ordering at a restaurant you've never been to before, and you want a really great pizza. There are two options on the menu– a $5.99 value pizza and a $15.99 deluxe pizza. Which pizza do you think is better? Most consumers will say that $15.99 pizza is better, because there's a value associated with price.

The more an item is priced, the more value people will associate with it. Most will automatically equate that $5.99 pizza with a greasy one-topping pie, and that $15.99 with a topping-filled tasty dinner. The same thing applies to things that are free. When you give your work away for free, it can send a message that you are a low skilled freelancer, because there's little value associated with something that's free.

Since free things have little value, freelancers should never work for free, right? Well, not necessarily. Whether or not a freelancer should do some work for free depends largely on the situation. Here are some examples:

When you should work for free

  • When you are a new freelancer, and you have no portfolio, you may need to work for free so that you have samples to show paid clients. This is just temporary – a few free projects to show what you can do. Don't place free bids for clients actively seeking freelancers; instead try seeking out a nonprofit and volunteering, creating a product for yourself (like a blog or logo) or opportunities such as guest posts that double as a marketing tool.
  • When you work in exchange for marketing. Sometimes, you may not get paid in monetary form, but through exposure. A prime example is the Huffington Post. While they have some paid writers on staff, they publish a lot of guest posts for free. Many writers have grown their business exponentially after guest posting for a large site like Huffington Post, because it offers a big boost in their credentials. That's not to say every freelance writer should write guest posts for free, but for some it is a great marketing tool.
  • When you trade services. Say you are a freelancer writer that needs a new logo, and say you meet a graphic designer that needs to update their website copy. There's certainly nothing wrong with trading services.
  • When the person that's asking is your mom (or someone equally important to you). There's undoubtedly some people in your life that you owe. Just be sure to set a limit and decide how far to extend family freebies (or if you want to do them at all).

When you shouldn't work for free

  • When you have a solid portfolio. I've come across this many times – a potential client asks for sample work done specifically for them, despite having very similar work in my portfolio. Charge for that work. If you are creating something that the client will be able to use, they should be paying for that service. When asked to do a test trial for free, politely tell them your rates for that work. Point them to your existing samples, and mention that it does not have to be long term if the first project doesn't work out. Again, when you offer work for free, you lower the perceived value of your service.
  • When the client reaches out to you for something like a free guest post, that should be a warning flag. That's sort of like asking for a gift, it's not exactly polite or good business practice. If they like your work enough to contact you, they should like it enough to pay you.
  • When your work isn't going to be connected to your name. Make sure before sending out any guest posts or similar "free" marketing efforts that you know how it is going to be used. If you create a guest post or cartoon that isn't linked back to your website, you've wasted your time. Take the time to write down exactly how your work is to be used and make sure both parties agree.
  • When the work isn't "evergreen." Sometimes, you may not get paid right away, but will reap rewards over time. A classic example is starting your own blog. You won't get paid one lump sum like blogging for a client, but those blog posts will continue to earn advertising revenue long after you've completed them. If you do need to create a portfolio, a great way to do so without working for free is to create a blog that has potential to earn you money down the road, long after you've completed it and are getting paid clients.

Most freelancers, at some point, are asked to work for free. For the most post, free work should act as a red flag. When freelancers offer work for free, it devalues their services. Time is valuable, so freelancers shouldn't work for free, at least not often. But, in a few cases, working for free can be a good marketing tool, and may be necessary for freelancers who have no portfolio.

What do you think? Have you ever worked for free? How did it turn out?

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Stephen Hodgkiss
Chief Engineer at MarketHive
markethive.com


From Hopeful Work At Home Mom to Entrepreneur

Article By Rita Taketa – I've been a successful Work At Home Mom for 18 years, beginning when there was little career work available at home besides telemarketing. After working for several different companies being in charge of multiple operations, I now have plans to expand my business-to-business professional services with virtual agents.

work at home mom business and entrepreneur

I've been steadily working from home for 18 amazing years. In the beginning, however, it was not a popular decision. The pay was poor and the quality of work was mainly telemarketing for the consumer-to-business market, or some other type of odd tasks that were not rewarding.

I started on this journey after I had my second child. I had been working for a marketing firm as a supervisor handling inbound and outbound calls for clients in the restaurant industry. I had a great deal of responsibility with data and order entry, managing our team, training, and being responsible for the entire company phone system, which was my first introduction to Telephony Software & B2B Marketing.

As much as I enjoyed my career, I had a nine-year-old son at home to care for as well. I always felt torn between being a mother and a working women. I had already been through the route of daycare and before-and-after-school care and all of the challenges that go along with being a working mom. I felt guilty when I was not with my child, and yet I needed to work to help provide for my family, just like the balancing act that we all face today now that most families need two incomes to stay afloat.

Research on the internet afforded me to learn more about working from home, but there wasn't much of a selection to choose from except telemarketing. I started working with a company that produced customer satisfaction surveys for a national tire company. It involved evening and weekend work, so I was able to work my day job but bring in a little extra money. As I worked on different projects for the company, gaining more experience and confidence, I was asked to do more projects in different markets. Eventually, I started doing surveys for a vast array of markets including insurance.

Networking, researching, and trying different work-at-home tasks allowed me to transition into a full-time career working from home as a business-to-business professional. I serve as an extension of a company's inside sales team as an appointment setter, lead generator, and customer service representative. I've worked as an independent contractor for many years, so I took my experience and branched out with my own company to accommodate the needs of businesses in supporting their sales and marketing efforts. My goal is to expand by hiring virtual agents to help with my growing client base.

I chose a rewarding career path that has allowed me to be home with my family (which was my ultimate goal), raise my children, do meaningful work, and make a good living right from the comfort of my home office. Work At Home Mom = a happy mom!

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Stephen Hodgkiss
Chief Engineer at MarketHive
markethive.com


How To Manage Time Off for the Holidays when you are Self-Employed

'Tis the season to be jolly…and busy! Here are six tips to help you enjoy the holidays. 

work at home

The holiday season is here – and hopefully, amid the big dinners, shopping, decorating and parties, is, somewhere in there, a break. But taking some time off is a bit different when you are self-employed. For one, there's often no one to pick up the slack when you take a vacation, and you probably have to plan ahead so there's no slack in the budget either.

Keep Family in the Loop

Before you plan your time off for the holidays, chat with your family. What days will your spouse have off from work? Does little Johnny's Christmas play fall during the hours you would normally be working? Will you go on any special family outings, perhaps to pick out the Christmas tree or visit Santa? Knowing all your families activities ahead of time will help you plan how much time you'll need off, and when.

Stay Organized

Organization is an essential quality for a work-at-home-mom, and it certainly comes in handy when you are preparing for time off. Create task lists that outline what you need to accomplish both before and after your break. Block out time on a calendar so you know what you need to be working on and when. Find a system that works best for you – just remember to stay organized.

Notify Consistent Clients

You probably don't need to notify clients when you are taking a national holiday off – but if you plan on taking the whole week off or a few extra days, be sure to let your consistent clients know ahead of time so you can make sure you'll both be prepared.

Set Up an Automated Email and Phone Message Response

Whenever you take a vacation, it's a good idea to set up an away message in your email so no one gets upset when you don't respond right away. And if you use a phone for business calls, change your voicemail as well if you don't plan on picking up for business calls during your time off.

Arrange Extra Work Time Before and After

Depending on the type of work you do, you may need to make up for the time you take off. Plan extra slots of time both before and after the holidays. Schedule when you'll take care of the extra work, so you're not stressing about when everything will be done. Ask for help with the kids and housework if you need.

Embrace Technology

Thanks to technology, there are a few ways to be present without actually being present. Schedule social media posts during your time off – try a social media management system such as Hootsuite if you haven't already. The scheduling feature makes it easy to ensure there isn't a big lapse in posts while you're away. If you use a blog to promote your business, most platforms will allow you to schedule entire posts as well.

Holidays should be spent enjoying time with family – not worrying about work. With some organization and planning ahead, you can take some time off without a drastic impact on your business. Chances are, you started working from home so you could spend more time with your family – don't let your work interfere with enjoying the season with your loved ones.

If you believe that my message is worth spreading, please use the share buttons if they are visible on this page.

Stephen Hodgkiss
Chief Engineer at MarketHive

markethive.com


Video Marketing Tips, Trends, Strategy & Best Practices

Content Samurai is a tool that instantly generates hundreds of content related pages and thousands of relevant targeted in bound links. This utility also creates effortless high rankings with just four clicks of your mouse. Content Samurai allows you to quickly and easily dominate the search engines by giving you exactly what you are looking for – high quality content and targeted links.

Crank Out Traffic-Pumping Videos On-Demand!

Have you been struggling to get Google rankings lately?

What Is Content Samurai Software All About?

Content Samurai is a video creation software that allows you to create engaging videos within a few clicks of the mouse.

The software comes loaded with features designed to make the entire recording process as simple as possible, without dealing with Photoshop, crazy codecs or any of that video jargon.

How Does It Work?

Content Samurai can create videos from your content and scripts and it does it with a 5 step process.

Here's the steps to creating your very first video within minutes

Step 1 : Scripts – Paste in your content into the software starting with the headline then following with the content. The best part is that you can use pretty much ANY kind of content you want including articles, blog posts, advertisements, and sales letters.

Step 2 : Slides – The software will analyze your content and automatically break it up into bite sized chunks with visuals to make it pop. You can change the look and feel by adding images from the millions of stock photos included, or choose one of your own photos.

Step 3 : Audio – Next is recording your audio, and this is where Content Samurai really shines. The software breaks software into easily recordable chunks. Simply hit record and record each part of your content section by section. Adding music is a great way to spice up your video and you can choose from the audio pre-loaded into the software.

Step 4 : Preview – Now, hit the play button to preview your masterpiece. You can make changes and adjust where each slide starts and ends to perfect your video.

Step 5 : Download – Click the download button and now you're ready to upload your content on all of the top websites on the planet including Youtube, Facebook, Vimeo, and the list goes on and on. Start driving MORE traffic from the content you already created once.

If you believe that my message is worth spreading, please use the share buttons if they are visible on this page.

Stephen Hodgkiss
Chief Engineer at MarketHive

markethive.com