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Why Working For Free Is NEVER Free

The one thread that unites us all is time. It is the one element all humans have in common. No matter how much wealth we accumulate, the land we build on, or love we give, time will never slow down for us. It will never grow for us. Today we’re going to be talking about how to deal with clients who ask you to do tasks beyond the agreed upon scope of work. This is not an easy conversation to have and no doubt most freelancers have been in this situation. Saying the wrong thing can cost you a gig. The one thing I want those reading this to take from this article: at the end of the day, working for free is NEVER free.

What To Say To Clients When They Ask For More

1. Be Honest

Finding that next gig as a freelancer is a bit nerve-racking at times. As a freelancer, you run your own business. From finding clients, to communications, it’s up to you to build your company, attract new leads and keep the current ones happy. It’s not always an easy process. If you didn’t take enough time prepping then you might miss out on gigs. We all know this.

When we do get clients, we want them to be happy. We want to go above and beyond what we normally do to make sure they are happy and we continue to do a great job and have work. With this type of attitude, it’s easy for a client to ask us if we can do more. Perhaps something that is beyond our normal scope of work. In this situation, be honest. If you don’t know how to do a task, tell your client.

Not knowing where that next paycheck will come from is scary. But taking on a gig that is beyond your skill set and risk blowing it, that’s just bad business. Be honest. On goLance, you’re able to subcontract. If you’re in this situation you what you could do is build a team so that when these types of tasks do arise you’ll be able to subcontract the work.

2. Say, “Yes, but…”

Value the time you have. If you don’t, nobody else will.  Go above and beyond for your clients but also remember you are running a business. When a client asks you to do work beyond the scope agreed upon say, “Yes, but…” and let them know what it will take to do the work. Set clear expectations and the rate it will cost to accomplish the task(s).

A great way to segway to this type of conversation is saying, “I’m happy to do this for you. Just so we’re clear this is what’s involved (describe the tasks) and how also how much it would cost. Are you good with that?”

Always be professional and fair.  It goes a long way. Most clients will respect you for acting this way. Those that don’t and possibly flip out in some way, it’s not fun to say, but maybe they’re not the best clients for your business. That’s okay guys.

3.  Work For Samples

In some cases, you may not feel confident in asking for a fair rate or subcontracting the work. The reason why doesn’t matter. What does matter is what will you get out of the gig if a client asks you to work for free? Remember, nothing you do is free. One hour spent on the grind is one hour away from your family, life, and / or paying gigs.

If you agree to work on a project without compensation see if you can guarantee solid samples to showcase in your portfolio.  On goLance, part of what clients do before hiring others is reviewing a freelancers page. They look at samples, bio, reviews, the works. Imagine if you had some killer samples to show off, what types of gigs would that land you?

In this situation ask clients if you can take screenshots of the work you do and leverage them as samples. Do this before the start of any work and especially before the completion of the job. Reason why most clients are more open to saying yes at the start of the job. At the end of the job, they generally are ready to move on or have a second wave of tasks they have to focus on so getting back to you might not happen right away if at all. It’s easier to get an answer at the start.

Final Thoughts…

At every stage of a freelancers career, you will be asked to do work for free. There is no way around it. Use that conversation as an opportunity to open doors for yourself. Subcontract, charge fair rates, get samples. Treat what you do as a business and you will thrive. If you let one free gig lead to ten free gigs, next months rent will feel pretty far away.