Why you should never give your services away free

Are you a nice person? Do you like helping people? Do you sometimes do things for free, even in a business sense?




You may think you’re doing a nice thing for someone, but do they truly appreciate it?


The answer to this question is not what you might think and certainly not for the reasons you think.


So what’s the answer? Simple, the answer is Not as much as you expect!


Why is this and why should you charge something, even if it’s a pittance?


The reasoning behind this is that everything has a value, nothing is valueless. The amount of value you put on something can seem like zero to you, but your way of thinking is wrong, it still has value to someone. If it was truly valueless then why would you be doing/giving it to that person in the first place if not to help and thus helping is adding value to that person.


Ultimately, the person you are helping is receiving something of value to them and that should be chargeable in some respect.


I say “some respect” because what you receive doesn’t have to be of a monetary value (although if you are bartering, you will still need to account for this to stay within the law for tax purposes), it could be a reciprocal service. For example, I could write a website for a removals firm and instead of taking payment, we negotiate that them move my belongings when I move house for free. In this instance, we would both negotiate the terms and scope of work. I would write 20 pages and a template, they will use one truck and travel a maximum distance of ten miles. With the scope and terms in place, everyone knows where they stand and can place a quantifiable value on their services.


I have tried to stick by this mantra but just recently, I have have let it slip. I asked for a favour in return for an item. That favour, was for the recipient to simply like my business Facebook page and review my business. I’ve recently started to put more effort into my business Facebook presence and thought it would be a good idea to socially promote it in this manner on this occasion. How wrong I was!


To this day I’m still awaiting my review and page like, so what had I done wrong?


I didn’t “charge” enough!


The value I had placed on the item I had given was too little, so little in fact that in the recipients mind, a review and a like on Facebook was worth more than what they had received. Because I didn’t charge them financially, they didn’t appreciate the worth of the item they had received and thus did not reciprocate their end of the bargain.


I’m not mad, or bitter, not at all, it’s a lesson learned. Just remember:


Everything has a value, and you should never discount something so much as to make it worthless.


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