How working for free changed my life

WARNING ⚠️- I’m not actually recommending working for free to pay the bills as that would make absolutely no sense at all! 

As freelancers and founders of service based businesses, we often have these topics lingering in our heads at the beginning – What we offer to our audience and how to price our time and knowledge.

It’s easy to undercharge (hello, imposter syndrome my old nemesis) when we haven’t got it all figured out.

How about working for free?

It doesn’t sit right with some people. 

It probably doesn’t feel right saying it.

BUT there is value if you are happy with what you get in return whether it’s a skills swap, a testimonial or just helping you figure something out. 

I got a great tip as part of the Tech Pixies Social Media Training – invoice your free work and give it the same value as if you were charging. Then, make sure you get the real value back in return for your work.

Here’s my experience of how it all began for me

When I was furloughed from my Creative Management role during the very first lockdown I knew I needed to really seriously consider my options.

I was homeschooling and putting my creative energy into being the best Reception-age teacher I could be. 

But I got restless and needed something else to think about. 

Somewhere else to put my creativity.

I asked a few friends with businesses if they need any help with anything, and that’s how I got my first client. It was volunteer work but I was delighted.

It quickly developed from being a Website and Social Media Audit with a branding refresh for Instagram to a full website redesign.

I took it on. But I couldn’t do it. 

Website design just wasn’t my thing. Fortunately my friend totally understood and we agreed the best ways I could still be helpful.

It should have been an EPIC fail, but it wasn’t. Why? Because I learnt what my lane was. I knew what I could offer. And also what I definitely wasn’t going to offer. 

Can you put a price on that? Absolutely! 

If I hadn’t done that free work and put my hand up for that big, juicy project I would have only struggled on finding my way for longer. And that would have cost me money, my sanity and perhaps would have taken me on a completely different path.

So here’s my advice

  • Go big, bold and brave! Saying yes to something could be one of the best things you do. If it doesn’t work out you haven’t lost anything
  • Know your limits – Agree exactly what you are prepared to do and when the work is to end. 
  • Trade. Everyone has something to offer that can help someone else. Don’t be afraid to ask for something in return.
  • Have your ‘why’ in the forefront of your mind. How is this experience going to help you achieve your vision?- Whether it is working more flexibly or choosing a path that brings you the most joy.

If you are just starting out in your business and feeling a bit ‘muddled’ I recommend going back to basics. 

When I started my business I had a dazzling lightbulb moment that made me realise exactly what I wanted to do and who I wanted to do it for. Once I had worked it out, that was that and I knew I was in the right place.

If I’m ever rethinking my services, direction or goals I think back to that and remember my desire and purpose to be a Brand Coach.If you want more clarity and like the idea of exploring more questions about your Brand Foundations – check out my FREE Workbook ’10 things to ask yourself about your brand’

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