Mar 2, 2021

Podcast 08: How to Work for Free and Still Make Money

Podcast 01 on what you can learn from the design startup show

Episode Transcript:

Hi design starters today. I’m going to talk about how to work for free, right? And you can still make money working for free. Can you actually do that? And no. Should you work for free? If you want for free, how are you going to pay the bills? And, um, is this something that you should do? Right. So, uh, I mean my own experience, I have met many clients who have came to me to ask, you know, I just want to make one small change and, uh, this is just this change.

Can you just do it for me? I’m sure I’ve come across many clients or friends, family coming to you for, for such a request. And. You know, for me emotionally, I do want to help them and I’ve been advocating, helping people. Right. And, and I, myself, I want to help as many people as I can. So if I don’t help them for free.

No within me, I feel a bit misaligned. Isn’t it? Because you know, in my heart, I sincerely want to help yet. I have to touch them. I would feel like, you know, I feel like people may think, right, aren’t you here to help. And if I could help, why do you charge people? Right. So with this. In the past with this misalignment, I would just offer them for free right.

Offer them help. And so this for free hoping there is this hope where, um, they can come back and they will come back to me for more of my services in future, because I believe in the coming equity of, uh, giving something away for free and they may just come back and help me out by kind of, uh, Taking on my services and paying for me future.

However, however, this may not be true and this may not work in the way that you think in that coming equity kind of a way that you think is a lot of times when you want to help people. Over the years. This is my experience. Right? A lot of times I want to help people. I realized that I shouldn’t expect return.

So let’s say for example, if I want to help someone for free, I must expect that when I help these people for free, they are not going to come back to buy again for me, I have to have that expectation. And the reason why is, you know, having been in this design business, In a, as freelancers do now, it’s been like 15 years and that expectation, you know, it did not work as in it, it did not become reality.

And when I have that expectation and if it doesn’t happen, it makes me disappointed. Isn’t it. And when does this disappointment and appreciate it, I feel that whatever the I’ve done, isn’t something that is worth doing. But rather if let’s say I do it for free, without that expectation of people coming back for more, it helps more, and it makes me want to do something better and giving that free gift with a much more quality service.

Right. I put in my heart isn’t that right? So this is one part of it. Um, the other part of giving, what for free is it is okay. In fact, I’m sure you have also met people who’s in, or don’t give away for free. It’s a yes or no answer, but I would say on the whole is okay, but you need to put in conditions.

Okay. So, so first and foremost, you give away for free. That’s the first thing with a mindset that you’ve don’t ex you know, don’t expect anything in return. Okay. There’s the second one. And the third one is to set those conditions and, and sort of boundaries. Communicate them to the clients and ask for an agreement, an agreement where you sign any, you know, like NDA, that kind of thing.

But it’s not, it’s more an agreement where Hey, you know, Uh, let’s say, if I give you for free, shall we, shall we exchange instead, rather than you paying me or I’m offering you this entirely for free, you don’t have to come back to me for future. So this is, let’s do an exchange instead. So it’s like a bottle of tree, which has done a lot of times.

Right. And it turned out well, because there was something that you want. There is something that the customer wants. The client wants. And you do a fair exchange. I feel that that works really well because, you know, if you, if you don’t give them for free, you may use some of your budget to, to pay for other services to buy something.

So if there is something that you would like to. So you purchase or engage or hire or, or come up with and you need to pay for something. Maybe the customer is already sending that, so you can do that bottle trade. So these are ways where you can kind of offer for free. And I feel that it’s a win-win. So this is the yes.

Answer where you should give for free.

And the second thing where when I say yes to giving your service was free, is when you are doing this strategically rather than emotionally or reactively. So that emotionally and reactively way off giving services for free was what I used to do. You know, in the past, when, you know, I didn’t really know what to do and people were asking me for it.

And I, I just felt bad. Right. I was a people pleaser and, and obviously I didn’t just turn out like that, you know, when I was born, of course, but it’s more like progressively, as I, as I grew into the business, I thought I need to please them for them to keep signing up to mine. It’s just the sort of mindset and.

I’m not sure if you have felt that way. So, so being a people pleaser, if they asked me for free, I would just say, okay, you know, I didn’t want you to judge me and think that I’m selfish and I just want your money. You know, maybe you think that way, but that was how I thought last night. And I hope you don’t think that way.

And I felt that having this mindset pushed me to just agree with them before they. Kind of jumped to another designer or another agency or freelancer, right. He’s like, I just want to have them. I don’t want to let them go. And if they say, if they ask me for something free, then you know, it could be a kind of getting them their foot into the door.

Right. So, so getting down, getting their foot into the door to come and try me out is, is great. Right. But the mindset of being reactive to them without being strategic, Kind of, um, put this opportunity away. And what opportunity is this? The opportunity is, can you leverage, right? Can you leverage on this service, giving away free to your customer rather than just give away free?

And then when they, when you finish the project, the, the let’s say they just disappear and you will never probably get them back to. Take up your service again, I’ll pay for it. So this again, because of the remote member, the first mindset was that I mentioned was that no expectation leaving no expectation of them returning a favor at all.

Even if they, I mean, they are great people and all that. Yes. But no expectations. So if you don’t have that expectation, it means there’s a possibility that they may not come back to, to pay you for another service in future. Right. And, and that’s fine, right? There’s no personal or, or anything, but because you don’t have that expectation, you are thinking that we did not return then right now, when you are giving that free service, you should strategically, already agree with them on conditions.

Right. For example, like butter tree, for example, and another. Another good example or way to liberate on this free service is asking the, Hey, you know, do you have say a few people or businesses you can refer me to, you know, you may have friends, you may have your network, they may need graphics services or design services or any services that you’re providing right now that, that, Hey, you know, since you are.

You know, kind of benefiting from my, from my service. Maybe your network may benefit as well. So this is also a good win-win where, when they, uh, networking or when they are with partners and partners, ask them for referral, right at that moment, they know who to go to and who they should be referring them to.

We’ll miss you. Right? So, so this kind of conditions will help to keep that boundary there. And that, that keeps that commitment of your client with you. So, so they will know. Okay. Yeah. That makes sense. At least, you know, I’m returning my designer favor as well. They may think like that and they may feel better.

Right. You wouldn’t want them to not just not pay. And some of them may also feel bad, but they’re just not in the right budget to do so at a time. So, um, this kind of win-win will, will help you to kind of keep that relationship there. So this is one way where you can. Um, what for free and still make money because, uh, when they insure you to their friends and network, you, you will probably, uh, kind of coat them or charge them and then they will pay you.

Right. And it’s, it’s a snowball effect from there, right? So this is one way to put in a condition. And the next thing when working for free is also to choose strategically who you want to provide a free service to. You don’t just give away and give away free for anyone. You don’t just see that whole, okay.

You know what? There’s a lead coming in, who is visiting my website and just email me for, for, for a service. And I just give them a free service. You shouldn’t do that because you don’t know that person as well. It doesn’t mean all right. A client, any client is, is great to work with you. You need to be strategic in the sense.

You have to ask yourself, where is the direction? Where is your business direction? Uh, are you, are you intending to work with cultures? Are you intending your work with furniture owners? Are you intending to work with, uh, say, say, uh, the big top 500 companies in the world, for example. So you need to, to iron out who you like to work with now and in the future.

And people who come to you with such a persona, such a, uh, a description can possibly qualify for your free list. Isn’t it. So I learned this from Verne Harnish, uh, from scaling up the growth Institute where he talks about the top 25 prospects. I’ve also learned this from Russell Brunson, right? Where he mentioned dream dream, 100 clients.

In his book, traffic secrets. So how this works is you have to have this list where you have, let’s say 25 dream customers, hundred dream customers. For me, I use 25 because a hundred may be a bit too much for, for a start. So you can start with 25 dream customers and you choose your battles, right? You choose who you want to seriously, what we’ve and provide that free service with those conditions.

Because, you know, they will be your advocates, you know, they are your persona. And if they are advocates of you, they may recommend you to similar clients have similar profiles. And if that’s, these are the people you work with, then, then you’re on the right track. Right. So. I feel that that is the right mindset and, and there will always be people who are willing to pay.

So with that condition of asking them to bought a tree for them to intro and refer, these will help you kind of unpack whatever time that you have spent providing the free service. Right. So, so what, what I’m trying to say is you need to, liberation is free service as a breach, right? To weigh on a goal.

So if, if you can find these people as your advocates, then you will definitely make money from there. Yeah. So I hope this is helpful. And, uh, so I’ll just have many more to go. And I’ve, uh, also intended to, to pull, uh, to kind of talk about productizing and growing your startup. In a productized way on a daily basis.

So right now I’m saying this and I’m just thinking when I can publish the next one, but I, I have been publishing weekly and I think that is a little bit. A little bit slow for you to consume. So I do want to go daily so that you can also learn faster. I can learn from you faster. You can learn from me faster.

We can support each other, you know, at a shorter time, rather than waiting for a week. Right. So I hope what is out there is helpful and there’ll be more to come. So, uh, see you in the next episode, right? Thank you. Bye.