It happened a lot in our early days. And some still ask for it even though we have a great track record.
I’m talking about working on a trial period for free, or least doing some free specimen work so that the client can ‘judge you’.
It’s tempting. It can seem like a very good way, even a fair way, to impress a potential client.
Our experience tells us … don’t do it.
Services that are offered free of charge are never valued.
Bids and tenders are another animal, of course, and the unpaid writing or editing exercises we must do for these come with the territory.
But I’m talking about those prospective clients who call up drooling, almost begging, to work with you…and then they slip in that they want a free sample to test whether you ‘fit’.
These chancers aren’t treating you professionally or honestly. Most will discard you (after using your ideas and copy) without even a goodbye or thank you.
Just like a tailor
I like to think that ProseWorks is a bit like a bespoke tailor. Sure, people are more than welcome to walk into our shop, so to speak. They may ask questions, look at our past work and generally take their time weighing up whether we can deliver the made-to-measure fit that they need.
We’re happy to spend as much time as they like talking through what they hope for and how we may be able to help them.
But no tailor would make a free waistcoat for a new customer and then let him walk out of the door wearing it, on the vague promise that an order for the full suit might come later.
Likewise, we don’t offer freebies.
Experience tells us freebies rarely generate paid work and even when they do, it’s work that soon fizzles out because the client doesn’t respect us and what we do.
I fully understand that clients want to trial different agencies and people before they take the plunge.
They just need to make the investment and pay all those they want to try out.
If you’re just starting out, try to resist working for free. You won’t be valued or respected. And – ultimately – that means you won’t survive in this business.