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Have you ever had a client ask you to work for free? Ughhh we’ve all been there. One of your existing clients asks you to make an update for them, but there’s one little catch – they want you to do the work for free. “I need you to do _________, it shouldn’t take long at all.” Like, seriously?
Before you even begin to think, “Well, it only would just take me about 10 minutes to do what she needs, so maybe I could just do it without charging her?” – STOP right there. ✋🏼
You are worth so much more than that.
Let’s briefly walk through what happens when you provide work for free to your clients:
If you struggle with justifying billing clients for what they may consider “small updates”, think about these factors which should be a part of your hourly rate:
Read This Later: What To Do If A Client If Ghosting You
Similar to when a client asks you to work for free, offering a discount is like opening a big can of slimy worms! You’ll need to decide for yourself if giving a discount is worth your time, but in many cases a discount can backfire and your client will expect to receive a discount every time you work together.
Consider these alternatives when a client asks you for a discount:
Read This Later: How I Quit My Full Time Job And Started A Home-Based Business
Being up front with your client by saying you don’t offer discounts because it wouldn’t be fair to all of your other clients is a reasonable explanation. Once you explain your reason for not offering discounts and specials, your clients will know not to expect a discount from you going forward.
So, what exactly should you tell a client who asks you to work for free? Here’s some sample responses you can swipe and use:
In this case, a client has asked you to make an update that will take only 15 minutes of your time, however you are going to charge them for this:
Hi [client name],
Thank you for reaching out! I would be happy to help you with [name of task]. My rate for this is $XX.XX. Please let me know if you wish to proceed.
Make no excuses for your time or your rate. In the example email above, there’s no trying to justify why you are charging your client for an update that will take less than 1 hour. I promise, this no-fail method will allow you to charge for your time, no matter how big or small the project is.
Let’s say the client responds to your email and questions why you are charging them for something that they think “will only take 5 minutes”. Here’s how you should respond:
Client’s response: You’re charging me for this? But it should only take a few minutes.
That is correct. In order to give each project the time and attention it deserves, I do need to charge for my time.
There’s no denying you’re a professional with a response like that! By showing you care about your work and you expect to be compensated for your expertise and your time, your clients will value and respect you.
Every now and then you may encounter a client who asks for you to “add on” something to their project, a.k.a. something for free. An example of this would be if you’re creating a logo for a client and they ask you to “add on” some business card designs.
While it’s tempting to feel like you want to be generous and give your client something in return for their business, you never want to add services on for free.
Here’s how to reply to a client who asks for a free “add on”:
Hi [Client name],
I would love to help you with business card designs to coordinate with your new logo! In order to give your project the time and attention it deserves, my rate for business card designs is $XX.XX which includes 3 design options and 2 rounds of revisions.
As a business owner, you can be faced with a lot of uncomfortable moments. Having to tell clients that you need to charge them for your time when they clearly are expecting not to be charged is one of the most uncomfortable moments.
Remember that you are worth it and if your client doesn’t think you’re worth it – they can find someone else who will work for free.
When you work for free, you are missing out on other opportunities to charge for your time with clients who are willing to appreciate the value in your services.
Have you had an experience with a client asking you to work for free? Tell me about it below! If this article helped you, let me know in the comments below.
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