should you work for free

[VIDEO] Should you work for free?

I got a call from a client of mine who told me she was asked to work for free. And she wanted to know how to react to that.

My first reaction would be: “no you should never work for free!”

But then again there might be situations where you could possibly agree with working for free.

Here are 3 situations I could come up with:

1.      Testimonial/Case study

Imagine you are a virtual assistant and Richard Branson asks you to become his Personal Assistant for 1 month, for free. I don’t know how about you, but I’d say yes. You will learn a lot from the guy, plus if you can tell others that you’ve worked with sir Richard as his PA I’m sure people will be impressed. Especially if sir Richard is willing to give you a fantastic testimonial.

I suppose you get the idea. If the gig is a great case study and you can get a super duper testimonial from the client, you might consider working for free.

However, you need a win-win (testimonial) and it should be limited in time.

2.      When you are sure you’ll be able to increase your price substantially afterwards

Let’s imagine you are a graphic designer and some big company wants to try you out with the promise that they’ll work with you afterwards (presuming they are delighted with your work).Well, in that case you might also consider working for free.

You have to see it as an investment.

Be cautious however. First, you need to make sure they are integer with their demand and are not inviting all your colleagues to do the same. Second, if it is only an investment of your time, you might be willing to take the risk. Be careful, however, if you need to pay other people or buy stuff to get the job done.

3.      Emotional connection

I’m an animal lover and I (financially) support charity organizations that take care of abused or abandoned animals. If such an organization were to come to me for some branding advice, I’d sincerely consider this. It is a dream of mine to start a foundation for abused & abandoned animals one day. It’s my mission.

Back to you, if you get a question from an organization or company and their mission is 100% in line with yours. You feel an emotional connection with them. Then this too, might be a valid reason to work for free.


This is also why my business partner & friend Karina Urbina and I are organizing a FREE 2-day live business training: (in Dutch). People who have attended the training are raving about it and keep saying: “you should ask hundreds of euros for these two days. It is so valuable.”.

And we do this for free. However there is a strategy behind this.

1.      Testimonial/Case study

During these 2 days we give a lot of value to (starting) entrepreneurs who wish to take their business to another level. We build trust this way. We can’t start charging right off the bat without our audience knowing anything about the value we offer. We are establishing expertise, knowledge and trust with our audience.

Great case study, great way to gather testimonials from raving fans J

2.      Next step

Some of the people attending our business boost event will want more help, knowledge and advice. And that’s what we can offer them in our advanced training. It is clear that these advanced courses are not for free.

3.      Emotional connection

It is our mission to enthuse and inspire our entrepreneurs to grow and never be small again. Grow as a person and with their business. We want to reach as many people as possible with this mission. Lowering the price enables us to help more entrepreneurs. And that makes us happy. That makes us feel fulfilled.

PS: want to see the video? Here it is:


Your turn!

What’s the reason you would want to work for free?



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