Is it ever effective to work “for free?” Does it even work? Who would teach that method anyway?
Yes, working for free as path to getting clients does work, but you need to follow the formula to avoid common pitfalls.
The benefits of working for free are numerous. For one, it allows you to gain experience and build your portfolio. This can be especially helpful if you are looking to change careers or transition into a new field.
Additionally, working for free can help you make connections in your industry and network with people who can help you in your career. And working for free can be a great way to give back to the community.
But how do you parlay that into getting clients?
Here’s the idea:
- You want to position yourself as a curious student before you take any action.
- Make a post on your Facebook profile that says you’re looking to work with three people on their social media without charging them…that you’re ready and willing to work for three people for free.
- Then, when you get on the phone, let them know that you’re offering to do an abbreviated campaign for a set period of time at no charge in exchange for using the work as a case study.
You only need to do the process three times to get killer case studies, an impressive portfolio off the ground, and land a paying client!
This is a strategy you can do at your church, where you volunteer, or at your kid’s dance school. If you offer to do this free work for something that matters to you in your life, then you’re getting a double-win!
Be sure to document everything that you do in this case study so you can easily turn it into a portfolio example later. Then, you’re going to repeat the process three times. Once you've got those three under your belt, the fourth time you’re going to charge a fee.
Ready to implement the Curious Student Twist technique? Make that offer post right now and you’ll have your first client before you finish reading this blog post.
The Curious Student Twist strategy is idea #4 from our handy guide: 7 Under the Radar Ways to Get Clients Fast. Get the complete guide right here.
A Few Do’s and Don’ts If You’re Going to Work For Free
Do set clear expectations from the beginning. Discuss the exact period of time and scope of work that you’re offering to fulfill at no charge. This will help avoid any misunderstandings down the road.
Do make it clear that you’re planning to utilize the work you complete for a case study and to build your portfolio.
Do ask for referrals. If you're going to work for free, be sure to ask for referrals or testimonials that you can use in the future. This will help you land paying gigs down the road.
Don't overcommit yourself. Be realistic about how much time and energy you can put into a project. You don't want to end up delivering subpar work.