Free = Worthless

When I was a freelancer, I would often look on CraigsList for jobs.  I have to admit, when I first started out, I did some work for free, hoping that they would turn into referrals.  They never did.  What I discovered was that cheapskates who couldn’t afford my creative services had cheapskates for friends.  Often, many of these free projects would go beyond the original scope of what was originally advertised, therefore, prevent me from working on other projects.  It was also difficult to convert them into paying customers when they presented me with another project.  I stopped looking for jobs through CraigsList all together.

I am in no way discouraging you from looking for jobs via CraigsList.  They do have some decent listings once and a while.  I am going to discourage you, however, from doing your work for free.  When you are willing to take on work for free, you are basically advertising that your services have no value, that they have no worth.  You are literally advertising that your talents are worthless, that your talents are worth less than the market value.

If a client asks for a discount, reiterate the value of your services, and what they get out of it, and why the rates are what they are.  If they still can’t afford your services, scale your project down, and take out some services.   Or, go the other way, and keep the price as is, and add another service.  If they still can’t afford you, politely thank them for their time, and walk away.  You should always be willing to walk away from a bad deal anyway.  There will always be some anxiety in turning a client away, but it’s worth it.

The next time you are tempted to respond to a listing on CraigsList to do work for free, ask yourself, are your talents worthless?  Are you worthless?  If you believe you are not worthless, if you believe your talents have value, why would you work for free?  Stop slaving over projects that lead to countless hours of scope creep for a bunch of cheapskates.  Stop advertising that you have no worth.  Know your worth, and seek out clients who can afford and appreciate your talents.  You are worth it.

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