Working for free (or how to ruin your career)

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At what point did marketers become the Order of Discalced Carmelites? Who came up with the wonderful idea to take Teresa of Calcutta’s manifesto and transform ourselves into the new marketing charity ? I really don’t know … but I do know it was a BAD idea.

Turns out, customers have found a very “smart” way to make us work like slaves. Obviously, if a client comes to your office and says: “Hey marketer, I want a free social media strategy”, you will say: “Hey client, don’t you lose him? Do you want me to cook you a turkey too? A molito? A little dessert?

But let’s think that I told you that it offers you “a magnificent and unique opportunity” to create a free digital marketing strategy and that as a consequence thousands of people will see your work … and then, if you do it well, you will get thousands of clients, you will become a millionaire and finally you will thank him for that huge opportunity. Would it convince you? Let me tell you that, to begin with, that’s a great FA-LA-CIA.

Of all the times we’ve made the mistake of working like this, how many have been great business? When has working for free made you really happy? Has it filled your belly? Has hunger taken away from you? Has your debt with American Express been paid off? Has your children’s tuition been paid? There may be opportunities that are worth it, but 80 percent of these cases end up being hell for everyone.

Some cases sound more tempting than others, or so we want to believe. Clients are not the only ones to blame: we also add fuel to the fire by creating strange hopes, such as: “If I work for you for free, you will realize that I am good and you will always hire me”, “Maybe if I give you some free services, I will gain your trust “,” That account is big and maybe that’s the best way to win it “, and so on. Thus, we create stories that always end in maximum frustration and empty pockets.

Here are 5 reasons to NEVER work for free:

Makes you spend money out of your own pocket

It is very simple. “Free work” is not really “free.” How many hours did it take you to make that proposal? How much do you charge per hour? What materials have you used? Did someone pay you those expenses? Obviously not. So you are not just “working for free”: you are paying the client for your work. What a great idea…! Or not.

Devalue our profession

My mom has always told me not to give away ice cream if I want to sell my popsicle. What is free is perceived as of little value; If you give away your work, no one will give it the value it really has and later, when others try to collect the right amount, clients will find a way to get the job for free or with a maximum discount.

So agencies and professionals will have to lower our rates to be competitive, we will have to cut staff and work more hours; By working more and earning less, we become bitter people and then we will bring that frustration into our personal lives, and that will result in divorces, emo children, bitterness and total loneliness. A series of bad decisions could ruin everything!

Create nightmare customers

A good client is one who values the work; Someone who decides that your work should be free is DEFINITELY not a good customer and you should run away from him at all costs. Also, as you will surely have to continue working on other projects, you will not give one hundred percent and that relationship will be doomed to failure. A customer who does not pay is not entitled to changes and adjustments. It is the easiest path to mediocrity.

Life does not work with “favors”

As I mentioned earlier, debts, taxes, and Starbucks are not paid on the basis of favors. I wish it were so and I could ask the Treasury to strike me by not charging me taxes, because that would “improve its image.” I could tell them that, in the long run, they would benefit since I would put on Twitter: “Finance is the best!”. But no, it doesn’t work like that.

Work free wears

Working for free is one of the most humiliating and exhausting activities out there. Instead of spending your hours and your creativity, you should spend that time instructing yourself in a new tool , training in some software, baking cookies, doing yoga or learning to dance reggaeton (OK, I overdid it). Whatever you do will be better and more productive than working “to staple.”

In conclusion…

Take a deep breath. Your work is valuable, so valuable that someone would pay for it. You are valuable, your ideas change the course of the world. Be fair to yourself.

When things are not good, despair knocks on your door and you have the brilliant idea of “working for free”, think that this is not the way to get clients: it is the way to drive them away and get involved in a vicious circle.

Thank you very much for reading me!


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