Freebies aren’t generous ~ the three reasons why

Freebies aren’t generous ~ the three reasons why

You got into this work so you could help others.

You’re a kind-hearted soul. I know, I get it. For you, generosity is about giving. And you know how to give. You give value, information, time and energy – often to the point of exhaustion. If you see generosity as unconditional giving, it makes sense you find it hard to charge people for what you do.

Maybe you keep your prices low on purpose. Or perhaps you offer freebies to attract more clients. People in your position often discount their standard rates. Or find the whole discussion around pricing icky. Sound familiar? It’s so normal to want to be both affordable and accessible. After all, you want to help more people.

I’ve recently had three experiences that felt wrong to me

  1. I was given a flyer advertising free yoga in Winchester.
  2. When a healer saw me talk at a Hampshire business event about marketing, she offered me a treatment for free.
  3. Following a massage, the therapist asked if the price I’d just paid her was OK by me.

I don’t believe these acts are generous. I think giving your core work away for free or caving in on price is actually ungenerous.

Here’s why.

1. You can’t sustain a business this way.

Too many businesses are frustrated by lagging profits. Too many wonderful businesses fold because they don’t make enough money to earn a living. When this happens, we, as potential customers/clients of that wonderful business, lose out. Imagine if I didn’t charge for my services. Kitchen Table Workshops,  speaking engagements, business strategy support … all free. Yay! Sounds great huh? But consider now the conditions under which I’d be able to do that. I still have personal expenses, like my mortgage, childcare costs, food and bills. I still have business expenses like web hosting and freelance support. So, how would I pay for those if I weren’t making money through my business?

Too many wonderful businesses fold because they don’t make enough money to earn a living. When this happens, we, as potential customers/clients of that wonderful business, lose out.

I’d have to return to the corporate world, set my passion aside. When I got home at the end of the day, I wouldn’t have the time or energy left to write a blog, give talks, plan the content for my next workshop. I wouldn’t be able to give ongoing inspiration, encouragement and support. It would be ungenerous of me to give so little of myself to the work I’m inspired to do. The most generous thing I can do, is keep trying to find ways to become profitable through following my passion. The same is true for you.

2. You can’t then pass it on

But when we do earn well, we can support others to continue doing great work. We contribute towards a virtuous circle.

I enjoy paying for things that matter to me. For example, I’ve spent thousands on my training since leaving the corporate world. I’ve done this so I can continue to identify what works, spread and share my insights and experience with those it will benefit the most. If we don’t make money through our business then we’re not in a position to pass it on. Period. We can’t pay other businesses a healthy amount for the products and services they provide. But when we do earn well, we can support others to continue doing great work. We contribute towards a virtuous circle.

3. It’s disrespectful to your industry

By offering free classes, that lady in the high street could be viewed as undermining her peers. They’ve spent thousands of pounds, plus time and energy on training. They deserve to earn money as professionals.

Make a commitment to the longevity of your business and your industry

By setting healthy rates, you’re being generous to your industry. You’re making a commitment to the long-term sustainability of your business. And you’re and putting yourself in the best possible position to be able to pay the flow of money forward. Decide right now that the next time someone asks you for a freebie or a discount, you’ll hold firm on your price.

Over to you

What do you think? Do you think freebies are generous? Do you find it hard to charge because you want everyone to benefit from what you do? Leave a comment below. Please let me know.

Setting prices is full of angst. Find it challenging to set and then stick to a price that you’re happy with? Click here to book onto a Kitchen Table Workshop. You’ll discover why when people aren’t buying your services, price is the *last* thing you should be looking at – (and what to do instead).

P.S. Pass it on

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Photo credit: Emma Brabrook / Foter / CC BY-NC-ND

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