Working for free. Should I work for free? Should you work for free?
Working for free can be a great way to build up a brand and your personal reputation within your niche. As you work for free you would build up contentions, reviews, a ever increasing portfolio, and most importantly, improving your skills from all the practice as you do so. Working for free might not earn you money in the short term but can be a very valuable investment in your long term future earning power.
It’s become a meme over the years, if you were creative, you’ve seen it. In fact, you’ve probably been approached, and people are like…
“Hi, can you do this, this and this for me?
Great. Sure. Here’s a quote.
“Oh, I wasn’t expected to pay you. I thought you could use the exposure, you know, get out there.”
And people are thinking, yeah, there’s exposure where you promote me and exposure where I die, a cold, lonely hungry death in the middle of a field because your exposure, can’t pay my rent. Your exposure, can’t pay my bills. Your exposure is me dying of exposure. I get that. I do. I do. That’s why you need to be sensible about this. Right?
I couldn’t do the whole free thing to start with either. And it’s become much more of a thing now that I can because I have a steady income.
Make Working For Free Your Side Hustle
Now, working for free can initially be your side hustle. I’m not saying that it has to cost you thousands of pounds to do a project that you hand away for nothing and you have no control over. I mean that you can build upon your future by adding value, leading with value first. Your side hustle has the potential to be the base for your future business success.
When I first started doing YouTube consultancing, I set up a profile on a few freelance websites like PeoplePerHour, on Fiverr. Yes, that does technically mean that I got paid for it, but it was pittance, deliberately pittance because I wanted to attract people to me. So I could pull a few strings and build a few Lego bricks on top of my board. They are good marketplaces that can offer you a chance to practice your skills or build a portfolio. So that aside, on the PeoplePerHour website, or Fiverr for example, I sell really, really cheap logos or really, really cheap Web designs, or really, really cheap channel reviews or video optimizations for say three, four or five dollars.
The money is negligible. But, what it does do, is it gives me a chance to build up 10, 20, 30, 40, 50 examples of me doing the thing that I want to get paid for, to do. If it’s on PeoplePerHour as well then it’s an hour’s worth of work, two hours worth of work depending on how much you’re willing to sacrifice in your time. But let’s say you do 20 logo designs at a $1 each, that’s 20 bucks, that’s not really much for you. It’s a cup of coffee, or that’s your electricity to cover that laptop that made those on, but you now have 20 designs that you can put in your portfolio, 20 designs that you can then show to a new client that is willing to pay you two 300 pounds for a logo and you’ve got 20 examples of stuff that you’ve done in the past.
Yes, it does mean that you sacrifice a bit of your time. Yes, that does mean that you couldn’t have charged 200 pounds for 20 of them each and made four grand. But if people don’t know you, the grand value price of one sale when they don’t want to buy from you is zero, zip, zilch nothing, nada. I would much rather have 20 sales, 20 logo designs at 20 bucks at one buck each, because then I’ve got those examples that I can then go and hunt the next big fish that’s willing to pay maybe a little bit more, 20 bucks each 50 bucks each 100 bucks each.
Working For Free is Improving Your Skills
Now, this is one of the things that that doesn’t dawn on people. I’ve been on YouTube for about eight, nine years. I’ve been creating these videos on this channel for about three. That means somewhere out there, there’s thousands of videos that I’ve edited, or I’ve been in, or I’ve uploaded, I’ve downloaded, I’ve deleted and that means that I can do this, I can communicate with a camera, I’ve improved my skill, I’ve improved my lighting, I’ve improved my ability to talk to you, to edit. Improving my skill, improving my speed, improving my skill set that I can sell to somebody else.
Improving my expertise that I can pitch to somebody else. Hi Mr. logo man. Yes, here’s 20 examples from point number one and I can do it much better than I used to because logo number 20 is better than logo number one because I learned how to do graphic and vector work a little bit better. And instead of it taking me four to five hours to render that wonderful piece of artwork, I can do it in half hour to an hour, and I can start tweaking and I can make it bigger.
Skill, improvement, more money.
You’re investing in yourself by doing free stuff – Building your reputation.
You’ve sold 20 logos to 20 people or 20 teddy bears, or 20 stockings or 20 handmade cards, it doesn’t matter what it is, you’ve sold 20 things to 20 people that can leave you 20 reviews. Those 20 reviews, you can then put on mailing list. Those 20 reviews you can put on your website. There’s 20 reviews, or people that hopefully you can refer to. Those are 20 advocates that know who you are and what you can do, that will refer hopefully another friend next time they need a logo, a teddy bear, a T shirt, a sock design, whatever you’re doing.
That reputations stacks on top of the skill that you’ve learned and the portfolio that you’ve gained. All of which has helped me in the past, hook that bigger fish. That’s got my foot in that door. Though I’ve got a couple of people that have come from these platforms, they are constant retainers, they are clients that I consult with. They are people that I directly work with, and they wouldn’t have found me if they hadn’t have used the freelance site to buy something small from me, for me to over deliver value, for them to trust me with my portfolio, the reputation, the reviews, and loving my work for me to then upsell.
I didn’t advertise for these people. I didn’t put ads on Facebook, I didn’t go out there on Google ads and hook people in. I’ve not pulled them in with some kind of skeezy sleazy kind of sales click funnel. I offered them value at a fair price and created quality, for them. And I’ve got my foot in the door, in which I can start talking to, and then I upsell, and I upsell and I upsell which then, supports the ability for me to give cheap, entries at the other end of that one dollar logo, those five dollar logos, those mini cheap reviews.
Leverage your new skill base, the things that you have learnt, your reputation, your portfolio, that foot in the door, you’re not actually doing it for free anymore.
Yes, initially, you do have to do the legwork, build the foundation and build upwards. And all it takes is for you to slowly stack over time. You put in some hard work.
And yes, let’s say you you have some really bad luck, and you sell 400 of these logos at one dollar each. You now have a huge portfolio, you’ve now had a skill based on these things. It may look like you are working for free, but you’re actually investing in yourself. And sometimes someone will help subsidize that by upgrading or by selling or buying or promoting you. And I did a lot of this at the start of my consulting career. I worked my ass off for 12 months, giving away freebies, or very cheap reviews and very cheap this and very cheap that. Why? Because it built those connections.
I’ve got 400, 500 videos on my youtube channel. They’re exactly that. I worked for free. Don’t get it twisted, yeah. YouTube can pay me a little bit of money in advertising but trust me it is pittance compared to what you can make by building that reputation. Building a back catalog. Making those links, putting your foot in the door and building a business from the ground up. All by just initially working for free. It’s one of the very important steps that you have to deal with when building a business and this nine of them here which I’m sure you know.
If you want more advice on how to start and grow your business using YouTube watch this video below.