The Power of ‘No’ – You won’t work for Free

How many times have you been expected to work for free? If you’re a creative professional then you are more than likely come across people asking you to do freebies or give advice. And worse you say ‘Yes’.

Only on rare occasions should you offer your services for free: maybe for a close friend, family or for a charity or community-based group close to your heart. Gifting services bears little difference from offering cash or a physical item.

But when an acquaintance or fair-weather friend seeks you out hoping to gain some of your knowledge/skills without compensation, draw a line and say ‘No’.

Free work can be wrapped up in doing someone a favor, looking at things for them or that your aid will benefit you from the exposure, although they came to you for help!

Assert yourself and maintain your dignity. These are vital in being respected. If you keep offering free work, news spreads and people won’t value your services. You’ll be seen as a charity that gives out, but does not receive. So stop!

Here are some tips to set up a strong strategy to assert yourself without offending people sniffing for free work.

Fees, not freebies

Assumption is the best and worst thing. You assume they want help, they assume it will be given free. So stride out and offer help, while noting your fees. You’re asserting your help comes at a price. If they say they believed the work was for free, decline them.

Just say No

Be strong and say the most powerful word in the English language: “No” and it’s okay to say  NO too. You can dress it up, saying: “I’m flattered you’re seeking my advice/services, but I’m not taking on additional clients right now.” This way you are declining their request by assuming the best in people as if they were seeking to be your client.

Offer options

To soften the blow and to preserve what little relationship you may have with this person, offer other professionals for help. This way you offer a solution and educating them about the value of work.

Offer suggestions

Depending on your profession, you might be able to throw in a “freebie” to show you care. Guide them to a resource/website that helps them give an answer. Be civil, but be strong.

Vinh Van Lam
the authorVinh Van Lam
Vinh Van Lam, co-founder of ArtSHINE, is a visionary art coach and entrepreneur with a passion for fostering creativity. With a diverse background in art and business, he brings a unique perspective to empower emerging artists, enabling them to thrive in the dynamic art industry through the innovative platform of ArtSHINE.

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