Should You Work for Free to Land New Clients?

It's a competitive market in the work-at-home niche.  Some people recommend that you do some work for free to land new clients while others say that is career suicide.

Ultimately, you need to decide what is best for you and your business.  However, working for free may have more drawbacks than benefits.

Benefits of Working for Free

If you do agree to work for free, the clients can see if you're a good fit for their company.  They can feel confident hiring you once they see your work and understand how you are to work with.  That is a definite benefit.  However, the drawbacks are more numerous.

Drawbacks of Working for Free

First, the client may "hire" you for a free project and then never work with you again.  Now, you've given up your time and have nothing to show for it.

Second, the client may see you as a cheaper source of labor.  Since you were willing to work for free initially, why should the client pay you a high salary?  He'll likely pay you a lower salary than he would if you hadn't agreed to work for free.

Third, unless you have a very clear contract that details when you will stop working for free, the client may try to get more and more work from you for free.  Cutting off the client's demands can be awkward and may lead to bad feelings.

Try a Different Tactic

A better tactic may be to have a set rate that you chargeclients for projects.  If you'd like to offer an incentive when you begin working with a new client, consider offering a discount instead of working for free.  For instance, you could give a new client 10 or 20% off on the first project  you complete for them. 

Then the client gets a deal, respects you and your work, and knows that the discount is for a limited time only, which makes it easier to move up to your regular rate for the next project.

Have you worked for free before?  Was doing so beneficial for your business?

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