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Should you ever work for FREE?

by Vitaliy Rizhkov

Recently I wrote a blog post for those just starting a business called “How to start working for yourself in 5 steps.” One of my recommendations in that post was to work for free. I believe that working for free is necessary when you are just starting out. My reasoning? It is an excellent way to practice and gain significant business experience. You’ll also learn things much more quickly than if you wait and only do work that pays.

Today I would like to talk to those of you who already have experience, have clients, and are profitable. Should you ever work for free? My answer is a resounding, “Yes!” I’m 100 percent confident and here’s why:

You don’t need to charge for everything you do

Take this blog post as a great example. I’m writing it and don’t expect to get paid for it. I could be spending time on some other task that directly affects making money, but instead, I’m writing this blog post to provide value to you for free. Giving away my time for free now will result in getting back something of value in the future—perhaps even ten times the amount of the time I spent on the post.

So what kind of work can you do for free that has the potential for these later big returns? How about creating free content to share based on your expertise? Maybe you could give away some of your images for free. Coming up with ideas is pretty easy, just use your imagination.

Give away something of value to create a sense of obligation

As I said, I could spend my time working on tasks that pay. But I’m creating and giving away content free of charge to build value. Sometime down the road, when we launch Bloom to the public, I believe it will help many of you be excited about joining. First and foremost, you’ll join Bloom because it offers value. Second, (and I’m being honest) you may join because you feel obligated to help me. After all, I gave you something you needed. Most people like to give something back. ☺

Give away to get exposure

I’m sure most of you have open time slots in your work schedule; I know I occasionally do. Instead of taking a break, why not give away that time to potential clients? Convert that empty spot on the calendar into a marketing campaign that gives away a session to people who will, for example, share your post on social media. This approach works. Just figure out what exactly you want to do in that session and how you can maximize your exposure. Obviously, you won’t be getting paid for your time, but you will be surprised at how much revenue that giveaway will bring you in the future.

Build karma

Some of us live less fortunate lives than others. As human beings, we should help each other. From time to time, give away money, time and effort to help the less fortunate. Going through a nonprofit organization is a great way to offer your assistance. By the way, you don’t need to give away things all the time, just when you feel like you want to. And you don’t necessarily need to give away your money; just take an action that shows that you care. For example, provide your service free of charge to our veterans—they earned it by protecting you and me.

I’m sure you have other ideas for why we should work for free at times. Let me know some of those ideas in the comments below. What’s your overall opinion on working for free? I would love to hear what you have to say!

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