Greetings from southwestern PA. The RV is parked just outside of Confluence where we will be taking in the sights of Frank Lloyd Wright’s Fallingwater.
I hope you found our last conversation about ways to come up with ideas for your content to be useful. With that hurdle gone, you should be ready to launch your very own Authority-building messaging platform. Let me know if I can help!
On to this week. This newsletter was inspired by a post from a LinkedIn connection … basically asking the question that is the title of this newsletter: What are you willing to do for free to land new work? I have some thoughts about “for free.” And “for cheap.”
And if you’re new here, welcome aboard. This is what we do!
Seen on Twitter: If you want to have a stronger sense of urgency in your life (and you do) an easy way to accomplish this is as follows: take 100, subtract your current age, and imagine the number left is the % of cell phone battery you have remaining.
So, what ARE you willing to do for free to land new work? In our profession, we almost always write for free. We often agree to speak for free. And apparently, based on my connection’s LinkedIn post and the comments other people made on it, we sometimes offer to work for free … for example, a preliminary analysis that effectively is an audition for the paid engagement.
The tradeoff in writing or speaking for free is the exposure one gets for the effort. For example, the publications I write for have an audience of hundreds of, if not a few thousand, readers. For me, that’s huge … probably is for you, too. So I am all in here. Of course, it’s up to us to write great content that will be read by that audience and, hopefully, generates leads.
And I may be willing to speak to a small group of attorneys, financial advisors, or insurance people if I really want to get in the door with those specific people AND I feel confident they will send work my way once I fill their know, like, and trust buckets. But for presentations to larger groups or organizations, I always ask for an honorarium if they don’t pay a speaker’s fee.
What you’re willing to do for free likely depends on where you are in your career path and if you work for yourself or somebody else. For example, if you are just starting your own firm, you likely have more time than money to invest in your marketing. Hence, you do some things for free.
And if you work for someone, they may be willing to subsidize your marketing efforts (by paying your salary) to get exposure for yourself and the firm. Hence, again, you do some writing and speaking for free. The firm may even be willing to underwrite your for-free audition pitch.
Otherwise, we are probably in general agreement. Definitely, write for free. Probably speak for free (but ask if there is an honorarium).
But … are you willing to work for free? To audition your services? (I’m not, but that’s me.) What about willing to work for cheap?
I read a graphic that said, “Work for Free or Full Price – Never for Cheap.” The logic behind it is that once you do something for cheap, it will be hard to shake that reputation. The referral sources will forget it was a one-time favor or introductory offer. And they will tell their colleagues, “Hey, hire Rod … he works for cheap.” Just the mantle I want.
As my LinkedIn connection said in her post, if you are going to do something for free, there has to be a good business case for it. To that, let me add Derek Sivers’ advice: if the for-free opportunity is not a resounding hell yes, then it’s a no.
In real life
Here is the marketing conundrum I see: people want free, but they don’t value free. And they are certainly willing to take advantage of for cheap.
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