“To give real service you must add something which cannot be bought or measured with money, and that is sincerity and integrity.”
—Douglas Noel Adams
Freebies and Giveaways
Big stores like Costco can afford to give away loads of free samples to introduce product to customers and entice people to stay and shop longer (everybody loves free stuff!) You can use this technique too, but unless you have the buying power of a corporation like Costco, don’t get too carried away. Just offer enough to tempt new customers to do business with you, or old customers to do more business with you. Use it as leverage for repeat business, or new business. You can’t work for free for long — you’ll go broke. Everyone has overhead, and everyone deserves to be paid a respectable wage for their work.
Doing too much for free not only deprives you of a just wage, but can lessen your perceived value or undercut your competitors and your industry in general. Creating market expectation from clients that your services can be had for cheap might create the illusion that the services are not worth paying for. Ever. So don’t shoot yourself in the foot with this one. Balance is always the key.
Having said that — sometimes free, underpriced, or generous/charitable pro bono work can lead to future paying work. If even the cut-throat legal industry throws in freebies now and then, it can’t be all bad, right? So you need to use your judgment: is it likely, or even possible, that a freebie now may lead to paying work later? (You can even ask this question outright, if you have a good client relationship.)
Unless you’re using this as a technique to drum up business because you have absolutely NONE, and you need the experience and exposure desperately, try to make sure you’re already making your minimum costs and not turning away good-paying steady work in order to perform the low-service or no-charge jobs. Only when you have it made and there are piles of money under every mattress in the house, then find a safe place to bank, and do all the free work you like.