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Should You Work for Free?

money-in-hand.jpgDonald Trump would flip his goofy-looking lid at the very thought of working for free, but personal-development blogger Steve Pavlina makes a good case when he suggests that content creators (artists, Web site developers, and other creative types) offer to give it away. Not forever, of course, but to get started, get your name out, get referrals coming in, and so on. Here's Steve:

One of the best ways to show people the value of your work is to share it with them for free. This minimizes other people's risk and makes it easier for them to receive your value. In this manner you can start sharing your value immediately.

For example, if you want to start generating income as a web site developer, focus on sharing your skills for free. Invite as much free web work as you can manage. Ask for referrals. Focus on clients where you can deliver a lot of value in a fairly short period of time by working from your strengths. Decline any clients that aren't a good fit for you. If you're halfway decent at what you do, you should have no shortage of small businesses willing to let you help them for free. Once you start getting more qualified free referrals than you can handle, you can start charging a fair price for your work. Some of your free clients will probably become paid clients if you impressed them, and you should also benefit from ongoing referrals.

Obviously this isn't a viable option for everyone, but I can definitely see the value for anyone trying to break into selling their content and/or services. If I was a budding writer, for instance, I'd hook up with some popular blogs and offer to write for free, just to get my name out there (and get those all-important clips at the same time). What do you think? Have you ever worked for free? Would you? Photo by LeoSynapse.
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