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5 Ways to Make Working for Free a Success

As a new service-based business owner, you might have considered working for free. It can be a great way to gain experience, get feedback, and start figuring out how to make your service better!

But… you might have run into a few people screaming at you through their screens, “Don’t do it! Big mistake! No!”

And I hear them. Boy oh boy, working for free can be a headache… if you don’t prepare yourself.

So here I am. To help you prepare. Let’s get into 5 ways to make working for free a success!

Set some goals.

What do you want to get out of working for free? Make sure you know why you’re doing this so that you can make sure you get what you want out of working for free!

If you want to get testimonials, then set up a system for asking for them. If you want to upsell clients, then figure out a way to do that seamlessly each time!

Don’t bite off more than you can chew!

Don’t: accept any and every project that comes your way until you have more projects than you know what to do with.

Do: set a limit to the number of projects you’ll do for free.

Instead of just taking on projects for free willy nilly, turn this into an organized sales event! You can do something like offering a 100% discount for the first 10 people who sign up in the next 10 days or something like that.

Offer them a slice of pie, not the whole bakery.

The goal with working for free is for you to fast track your way to success, not to fast track your way to burnout.

Keep these free projects simple.

In other words, don’t offer “big-picture” services. Don’t offer your whole service. Instead, focus your free projects on getting one specific result.

For example: let’s say you’re a residential interior decorator. Your main service is to design, shop for, and decorate an entire room in the client’s house.

Instead of offering this entire process for free, try offering a taste of this service like creating the moodboard and shopping list for the rooms.

Or if you’re a vegetable gardener who offers gardening services, try offering a garden audit for free. You would tell them exactly what they need to fix or change in order to produce more vegetables, but you’re not doing anything beyond that.

You’re still demonstrating value, and you aren’t driving yourself crazy with more than you can handle!

Put systems in place!

Whatever you plan on doing throughout the project, design a system, process, or toolkit for it!

Outline the steps of your service.

Determine who will do what during the project.

Plan out the way you’ll ask for testimonials.

Figure out what you’re going to say yes & no to.

By having this figured out beforehand, it’ll be easier for you to answer questions and guide the project in the direction you want it to go.

Set boundaries!

When you offer work for free, it’s easy to skip formalities like contracts and written agreements. It’s also almost inevitable that the client will ask for more and more and more and more and more if there are no clear boundaries set.

Make sure that you outline what you will and won’t do during this project, and that any extra services are not included and are available for a fee. Please. Because otherwise, people will walk all over you whether they mean to or not.

Takeaways

Don’t be intimidated by working for free! You can fast track your way to success with working for free by following the steps below:

One: Set goals about what you want to get out of working for free. Do you want to get testimonials? Feedback? A better understanding of who your ideal client is? Set a goal, then figure out how to achieve that through working for free!

Two: Don’t bite off more than you can chew: limit the number of free projects you take on.

Three: Offer them a slice of pie, not the whole bakery! Instead of offering your most robust service for free, just offer something simple like one coaching call or a free audit. You can still bring value without having to take on a 3-month long project for free!

Four: Set up systems for whatever you plan on doing during the project: the steps of the service you’re offering, the way you carry out each step, the way you ask for things from the client, the way you ask for testimonials… systems can increase success!

Five: Set boundaries for the project with something like a contract. Outline what you will and won’t do, what the deadlines are, what the requirements are, etc.