What I learned in 2015 #6 No more freebies

no more freebies


This is a series of blog posts. None of them are particularly earth shattering. However, if someone had sat me down a year ago and gone through them with me I’d be in a different place today. This sixth post is about when commercial reality kicked in and I had to say no more freebies.

I started my own business in 2014 with some big ideas and big goals. 2015 helped me realise some of these but I mostly learned a huge amount about being a small business owner. I thought I’d share what I learned in 2015 to help anyone else who has just started out or is considering making the jump on their own. I hope it makes sense and helps a little.

No more freebies

You often hear people offering help, which is great. In a professional context though, help is free.

Don’t get me wrong, I’ve received lots of help since I started 4th Level Digital Media for which I’m very grateful. I try and pay this back with whatever help I can return and pay it forward by offering to help others.

But, as I’ve said before, there is a commercial reality to being a business owner. Help is great but you really need work.

Work is a billable event; a company has a problem, a need, you have a solution, a service. Unfortunately I mixed up equation by giving up billable events for free.

In the same way I kept conversations going a little too long, I also thought if I showed them how much I know or how great this digital solution is without charging, they’ll come back for more (See #4 – Get to the ‘No’ early).

If you don’t value your work why would you expect someone else to?

I originally believed that doing freebies would show the potential value of the services I offered and be like a really targeted advert. However, in reality it just blurred the lines of where freebie stops and paid work starts -> if A was free, sure B is just finishing it off so that’s free too. Show me C… I’ll see if that works before we discuss the fee.

Commercial reality has to kick in… draw a line in the sand… no more freebies!


The more you’re willing to give away ‘work’ for free the more people are willing to let you. Unless you really believe there is a bigger fish to fry, you need to charge for your work. I will definitely continue to help people but I now know the difference between help and work. And more importantly, who needs help and who needs work.

If you’re a new business owner and want to discuss any of the above OR if you’re a company looking to find their way through digital… give me a shout. All my contact details are HERE.

Thanks for reading.