I really needed to write this.
Recently a small business owner who specialises in the new fad, eyebrow and other forms of cosmetic tattooing asked me to build her website and coach her in digital marketing in exchange for this cosmetic procedure. I only have two by the way, eyebrows that is, The new eyebrows cost around $400 for approximately 3 hour session.
When someone asks to do a "contra deal" for goods or services, it is only an advantage if both parties are equally benefited and both parties are in equal NEED of the goods or services on offer. I have no desire or NEED to have tattooed eyebrows.
We have all had the awkwardness of clients, friends and family wanting us to do things for free or super cheap and there are those who blatantly ask for it, or try to negotiate on price because that's what they do, they're just plain cheap.
Ultimately when someone wants us to do things for free or cheap, it basically means they don't value what you do. In so many ways, it's an outright insult. In reality and over many years, the projects that have caused me the most significant amount of grief and angst are those I have done as a favour or have been cajoled into freebies or massive discounts.
I suggest you take a moment right now and think about the following;
How many hours/years have you actually spent learning about what you do?
How much time have you invested in educating yourself?
How much money have you invested in your chosen business?
How much has getting to your current level cost you?
As an example, I'm a digital marketer/designer. How many hours have I spent learning to write, design, understand the frequent changes in the digital space and analysing outcomes, promote my clients effectively and leverage, utilising my knowledge? Easily 10,000 hours, in fact many more. I usually spend around 5-10 hours EVERY week just researching changes and analysing how to apply new tools to campaigns and sites.
How much have I invested in learning tools, software, hardware, equipment and now cloud based tools and storage to do what I do? As a rough guess $200,000 dollars over the past 20+ years. Clearly that's a huge investment and I have accumulated a lot of information, knowledge and expertise, starting out way before the World Wide Web, Emails and Google, but adapting to it and indeed ensuring my knowledge and skills stay relevant! A lot of trial and error, tears and terrors, and you should charge accordingly.
No matter what field you are in, I'm sure that you are in a similar situation. You have invested a lot of time and money to get to where you are today and probably still investing time and money. You have to value this investment and have the self respect to charge accordingly.
Now back to the eyebrows - The young woman was outwardly offended when I rejected her request, what am I going to do with tattooed eyebrows, really? A website with integrated online appointment bookings, SEO, tags, editing the images, writing and/or editing the text, paying for hosting, domain, templates and more, would probably be a base of around $3,500 for a basic site and would easily be a full week's work. Then add on the coaching to teach her how to get the most out of her social media, google business listings and the constant updates and corrections, because there is always something wrong (when you do it for free) - You now have a major headache for the next year.
So next time someone tries asks you to do what you do for a cheaper price, contra or freebie, think about how much it has cost you to get to where you are today, not just in dollars but in blood sweat and tears. If this happens frequently, you might need to rethink your marketing to build your credibility and show the value you bring to the table. And perhaps rethink your customers and clients to find those that will value you and your expertise.
However, there will likely be times when your friends may need some quick advice and helping them out makes sense, but selling out is quite different - Here are some tips from Amy Morin to avoid the inevitable questions from friends and family.
Set healthy boundaries with those who expect you to donate your time or services for free.