NACUE Create

The curse of free

Blog post   •   Mar 02, 2012 15:32 GMT

Let me ask you a question? Do you value your work, is it worth something to you?

If you answered yes then here’s my message: charge people for it!

Now don’t jump all over me and confuse what I’m saying, this blog isn’t a tirade against doing things for free; volunteering, improving your community or mentoring people...those are all amazing, worthwhile things to donate your time to, but when you want to freelance, to sell your product or service make sure you’re actually making money doing it.

In this age of web based instant gratification people always ask me the same question:

Should I offer freebies/discounts (or volunteer myself for a limited time) to entice people to buy my products/services?)

My answer is categorically no! If you spend time creating something awesome sell it for what it’s worth you might need to tweak the price and experiment a little but when you find that point (with at least a 30% margin on your costs) stick to it... just to clarify I’m also not saying don’t give stuff away, sometimes small bits of free content/products can be really useful but as part of a strategy these things have to be thought through as part of your model.

Let me break it down for you: building a business on discounts/freebies is a recipe for long-term disaster or abject failure. It's better to give people more value for their money (Moo), than to lower your price because then you're just a commodity (Vista Print) like all of your competitors. If you don't make enough profits, you won't be doing anyone (you or your customers) any favors because you'll be out of business.

Let’s look at a really simple example of this, here’s Kieran- he’s one of my best friends (we’ve travelled around India in rickshaw together); an awesomely creative guy he produces all kinds of branding and artwork for me but when he does that I pay him, because when I pay him I know I’m getting his full focus and attention and as a result his best quality work.

If you don’t know what to charge, look at the market, at your competitors talk to friends, tutors and other business people they can all help guide you, but in the end set a price and stick to it if people won’t pay it then you have time to find others who will.



Image by James Reeve