“Please build my website for free…”

May 17, 2022

Quite often I get asked by prospective clients if I can do them a “special deal” on their website or copy writing. The reason is, usually, they’re just starting out in business and are short on cash. Or things are “a bit tight” at the moment but they’re confident they will improve shortly.

Sometimes, the client will propose that I build the website for free, in return for an ongoing percentage of profits. The argument is, if I’m so good at what I do, how can I lose out? In fact, I’ll make much more in the long run. Other times, I’m asked to do a cheap job and in return, the client will recommend my services to others. So the long term spin off will be worth it, so this line of reasoning goes.

Well, the truth is, I’ve discovered the hard way that neither of these scenarios is going to work out in the long run. It’s almost certainly recipe for bitterness, resentment and strained relationships.

The bottom line is, asking someone to work for free or provide their expertise without adequate compensation is not a good business strategy. I won’t do it any more. So don’t even think about asking me.

The video above makes the point in a light-hearted way. When a service provider discounts prices, it’s almost inevitable that quality will suffer. So the client is not 100% happy (despite having demanded a cheap price). That’s bad news for the service provider’s reputation.

What I’ve found in the past when I’ve relented to a customer’s demand for a cheap budget is that I actually devalue my own services. I tend to rush and skimp on quality. Effectively, what I’ve done is create an environment in which I can’t produce my best work. So I run the risk of losing future work, even at the lower rate.

On the other hand, charging what I’m worth establishes value and respect, in my own mind and the client’s. It gives me the time and resources I need to do my best work. Ultimately, I know I am doing my clients a favour by charging them a higher rate, because the end result will be higher quality.

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