Or why we undervalue ourselves.
At least once, we all been asked to do something related to work for free. From strangers, from friends and sometimes even for relatives. I truly believe, that at some point in our lives, we all been tricked into doing something we don’t want to do free of change, or even things we would love to do for money, got a little sour when no pay is included.
I’ve definitely been there. At one point I was caught in a loop or sourness, while sharing payment for most of the work I’ve done myself, or helping our friends for free. I was so caught up in that sourness, that I wasn’t even doing much client work or personal work.
Gladly, my boyfriend saw that I have an issue with saying “no”, or asking for payment and told me this:
“stop working for free or splitting your money, because you are awesome – you can do it all yourself, and you can do it all better. You have your clients and they are happy working with you, why you need to work for free? Don’t.”
But as he said this out loud, I realised that these are just my insecurities, that kept saying “yes” all the time. I had a fear of missing out, devaluating myself as a creative, hoping that somebody will notice me instead of taking it all into my own hands.
For some time after me and my boyfriend talked about it, whenever somebody asked me to do something, I said : “I would love to work on you project, but I can’t do it for free – my boyfriend is not allowing me do that.” And I know it was a bit of a dumb excuse, but it helped me to not feel as vulnerable in these situations, instead blaming somebody else for this. And in my surprise, most of the people were okay with paying me money or offering some of their services in return.
And now I can most of the times easily explain the separation between personal life and work, especially I learned to do this for friends – “You are a dear friend of mine. I respect you a lot, and I would love to work on your project. But I won’t do it free of charge, because first of all I need to pay the bills too, second – I have a lot of work at the moment, so I would need to consider it work so I could add it to my work hours, and third of all – I wouldn’t want to ask you to do something free of charge for me.”
We might agree on a discount, something extra added, some service trades, very rarely something long term (that should be on paper, not just some promise). And to be truthful, working with friends is even harder sometimes, so if you actually agree on something, be ready to treat them as a client with all the paper work and work hours, tell them everything upfront.
So whenever somebody asks you to do something for free, put it all in numbers – time consumption, payment you would get, long-term – and ask yourself, are you ready to go that extra mile, use that time and energy, when you could be spending time with your friends or family, treating yourself or even catching up on some series (because you need that too), and don’t be afraid to ask what you want,
because if people are not ready to walk that extra mile for you, why should you?