When starting your business, you may think about offering your services for free to help get things off the ground — or if you already have an established business and you’re thinking about offering something new, like a new service, you might think about offering it for free to test it out. But is this really a good idea? Today I’m answering that question!
Is it ever okay to offer your services for free?
If you’re just starting your business, should you take on clients for free? Should you charge for your services if you’re pitching a new offer to potential clients? How much did you charge your first client? Is offering your services for free ever a good idea?
I had a member mention that she was thinking about adding a new service to her business. Before she offered it to potential clients, she was first going to reach out to her network to see if anyone would be interested in it for free so she could get some examples, build some case studies, and eventually pitch it to future clients.
Honestly? I typically never recommend offering a service for free. When I started my business, I charged my very first client $800 per month and I got a $100 gift card each month to their restaurant.
I had zero experience running Facebook and Instagram ads for a restaurant, (actually, I had zero experience running Facebook and Instagram ads for any small business), but I did have some experience with Facebook and Instagram ads.
So, do I typically recommend offering a service for free when you’re first starting? No. But, I also know that if you have zero experience with what you’re offering, you may want to offer your first client free services so that you can get some experience doing the thing that you are eventually going to be selling.
When might it be okay to work for free?
We’ve had a few people on the podcast talk about this. For example, if you’re a photographer with zero photography experience, but you want to start a photography business, you may offer some photography sessions to your friends and family for free to help build up your portfolio.
If you want to start a digital advertising business, like the members in the Advisori Insiders Pro program, and you have friends or family who have businesses, you may offer your services for free so you can get some experience with Facebook and Instagram ads if you’ve never worked with them before.
But that being said, just because you have zero experience doesn’t mean you have to take on your first client for free. You just might offer your services at a lower rate than what you want to charge in the future.
The more you charge for your services, the less needy your clients are going to be!
Why I don’t typically recommend offering your services for free
Even if you’re just starting out, I don’t recommend working for free because you need to practice selling and asking people to invest in your services.
Plus, even if you ask someone for $100 per month for your services, that’s better than working for free because you were practicing selling!
If you’re offering your services for free, you don’t actually have a business because you have to make money to have a business.
And how do you make money?
By selling and asking people for their money!
I also don’t recommend offering a service for free because whether you’re working with a client for free or they’re paying you — that client takes up time.
And if you’re working for free, that time that you’re using to service that client could be used to land a paying client.
Additionally, I can almost guarantee that a client who is paying for your services is going to value your services (and your time!) a lot more.
In fact, the more you charge for your services, the less needy a client is going to be. If a client is freaking out about investing $200 a month, they’re going to be super needy because they’re so attached to that $200 every month.
But if a client is paying you $2,000 per month for that exact same service, it’s because they view you as an expert and they 100% believe in the investment they’re making in your services!
So honestly, the more you charge for your services, the less needy your clients are going to be!
Validating your offer is super important — validating your offer means that people are willing to pay for it.
If you already have a business, but you’re thinking about offering something new, should you offer it for free?
This is what my Successful Solopreneur School member was asking on our coaching call.
She wanted to try out a new service, so she was just going to reach out to her network to see if anyone would be interested in it for free. My advice to her was no! You definitely shouldn’t do this!
If you have an established business, even if you’re making $1,000 or $2,000 a month and you’re considering offering something new, you should never offer it for free — whether it’s a service, a new program, a new course, or for coaching — whatever it may be you should not offer it for free.
And the reason why is because if you offer it for free, you aren’t able to validate your new offer.
Validating that offer is super important — validating that offer means that people are willing to pay for it.
Now again, when I first started, I charged my very first client $800 per month — now I charge a lot more. When we launched the Advisori Insiders Pro program, it was a lot cheaper than it is today.
But I didn’t offer either of those things for free because offering them for free wouldn’t validate those offers.
Yes, people might be willing to try out your new service for free, but that’s not going to help you figure out if people are actually going to be willing to pay you for it.
So if you’re offering something new, you could offer it for a discount of what you eventually want to charge so that you can confirm that people are willing to pay for it — but you should absolutely not offer it for free.
You need to know how to sell what you are offering if you want to make the money that you want in your business.
The bottom line: start charging what you’re worth!
Now I know that asking people for money is something that a lot of us are scared to do.
But again, offering things for free isn’t going to help you get comfortable with selling; selling is a lot easier when you know how to do it, and that’s one of the biggest things we focus on inside Successful Solopreneur School.
We focus on how to conduct a sales call — even how to sell a sales call — because the thing is, you need to know how to sell what you’re offering if you want to make the money you want in your business.
The more money you make, the more you charge for your services, the fewer clients you have to take on, and the more time you have to enjoy life outside of your business!
So stop giving away your services for free, start charging what you’re worth, and if you need help with that, you can always check out Successful Solopreneur School at annakonchar.com/apply.
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