Why You Should Stop Giving Away Your Work for FREE

Why You Should Not Work For Free | Taja Fox

Never underestimate the investment you make in yourself. - Source

I had a conversation with one of my very close friends the other day, and one of the topics that came up started to concern me. At first, we began to share what projects we were working on and then the current trend that steers us from not only being successful but also being compensated for our work. The conversation made me stop and realize: how many of us undervalue ourselves and our worth? Do we understand that time has value and the impact that our work carries?

Yes, we are aware that someone else out there has far more experience than the next person. They could have an extensive line of work put in place. However, no one is YOU. 

There are many designers, writers, photographers, you name it, but what you offer versus the next person is entirely unique and can't be copied. You work hard and have dedicated your time and money to define and master your craft.

And yet many of you continue to believe that free is okay, who give away their craft to anyone pulling or tugging away at them. I'm here to tell you to STOP giving away your work for FREE.

But here's the harsh reality: FREE doesn't get you very far

Let's be honest with ourselves. Some of you may agree to disagree with my statement. You may believe in order to gain exposure or build your portfolio; there must be some free incentive there. I can understand why you may think this way, although, I do believe that it can be quite difficult to be taken seriously after being known as the person who gives away their stuff for free. 

Free is expensive. So how are you going to pay your bills?

A prime example: Let's say you are running a fast food chain and it's very new to your community but not so new to the general public. You want to be successful, and you know there may be a few losses along the way. So you implement a plan to offer FREE items on your menu during certain hours of the day to the first 100 customers - in hopes to attract more consumers. 

But after months of being in business you noticed that many of them have yet to come back because their is no longer a FREE item available. Now, you realize that this is not what you bargained for and that you should be compensated for your product/service while being able to enjoy doing what you love. So, what should you do? It's time to re-evaulate your goals and stop giving your work away for free. Ask yourself these questions:

  • How much quality work and time am I putting in?  
  • Are my consumers/company benefiting from my work?
  • What am I gaining in return? 

Be realistic. Don't cheat yourself. 

Your level of expertise defines what you should and should not give away for free. In any case, you should always define a plan and implement it to ensure success. Here are some tips to do just that:

  1. Get a pad and a piece of paper. Write down everything you are giving away for free. Now, review the items that you have given away and list the items that are most costly. And don't be afraid to list the not so obvious freebies. 
  2. Be realistic and ask yourself, why did you give your product/service away? Did it add value? If you are not able to answer any of these questions you are simply cheating yourself. It's time to move forward before its too late.
  3. Implement a plan and stick with it. Make a decision to offer specific things for free. Stop offering free items immediately and choose a season or the amount of items that will be available for offer. 

No matter what your role is, commit to your plan and identify your worth because if you continue to give your work away for virtually free, you will not only loose value but also allow others to loose out in return. Let's separate hobbies and reinforce valuable work.