Continuing to work with a client who doesn’t pay you can harm your business and lead to burnout. Your time and expertise are valuable. Providing services without compensation is not a good strategy.
“I would love to help you out, but I cannot afford to work for free. I have bills and can only afford to take on work that pays.”
“We really work well together. I love the work I am doing for you. However, I have to build equity in my business or there is no point in being in business, right? I have to pause services until you can pay.”
“What can you offer as compensation for my time?”
If the client is facing financial difficulties, you can consider offering an alternative plan like bartering. Set clear expectations and document all the work you are doing. Once the equivalent amount is given to you, stop work. Remember the old-time fair days, “no ticket, no ride.”
“I would love to help you out. Why don’t you send me the equivalent of my time in products? I will write a review of your products too.”
“I strongly believe in small business. What could you offer me, besides money, equivalent to my time and expertise. My hourly rate is…”
What to say or write in an email when a client tries bullying you into working for free
“The quality of my work is stellar. We aren’t just meeting for the first time; I have worked with you in the past and proven myself as a professional. Would you agree with that? I require money for my services.”
“I require money for my services. It’s a non-negotiable.”
Dealing with someone who tries to bully you into working for free can be intimidating. Know your worth. Stand your ground and protect your professional worth.
What if they don’t get the hint?
“I can’t afford to run my business backwards. Here is some insight into the costs associated with providing my services. The overhead is high. I am constantly using time and money to train myself and update technology. Offering free services wouldn’t allow me to make the necessary changes to move forward as a small business.”
“I have to look out for my reputation. If I start offering free services, I would have to get a second job to pay to be in business. Would you have time for that? Being a good judge of character that I am, I know you wouldn’t want that for me.”
“I hope you find a solution to your financial challenges. If your circumstances would change and you come up with money to pay me, I would welcome any future collaborations with you.”
Preparing what you would say before the conversations of “Won’t work for free,” empowers you to have the tools to say no with diplomacy and tact. As a small business owner I have been asked by several people to work for free. It gets old. Be prepared. Guard your time. Know your worth and call me if you want to hire me to talk to them, here is my number (412) 589-8602.