Stories from my past: You can’t give it away for free

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People often say that you can’t give it away for free, but that is not true.

Before we are paid we show our skills for free. We might volunteer, help a friend or do any number of things that show our skills.

After we start getting a check we still give it away by helping friends, relatives, or any other number of other situations where we don’t feel comfortable getting paid.

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In fact, we only expect payment when we don’t enjoy what we are doing. Strange isn’t it?

Many times customers have said that when they don’t feel they are working, they don’t properly price their services. I know that at times I have not properly priced my services in the past. This was partly because I was taking on a new type of job, or a big step in what I might usually do. In those cases, I underestimated it because I was ignorant of the work it actually involved.

I might have spoken about this before, but when I underestimated the amount of work I still kept my word and finished the project. Since I didn’t want to make it seem I was taking advantage of a coworker who asked me to help her, I kept my original estimate of the cost. She didn’t feel it was fair to me since it took a great deal of time more than what I had estimated. So she asked me what would be a fair number and I suggested a modest increase. My goal in that job was to help my coworker look good, not that I needed the money.

The coworker gave me a lot more money than I had asked. Which was fair because it was a great deal of work more than what I thought. Part of this was due to my ignorance, and part of it was due to the problems that the client had that needed resolving.

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Even if I had worked for free on that job, it would have been a good experience and it helped me greatly when I did things in the future. Sometimes the payment isn’t in cash but in knowledge.