Why I’m no longer interested in “FREE”



If I don’t receive a weekly email or text of, “Hey, Sheryl, I will do ______ if you show me how to use social media” then my life is somehow incomplete. I’m kind of angry writing that sentence, but I’m the weenie in all of this. What do you think my answer is? I just agree, I help them, and then never collect on the services promised. I almost feel guilty if I do. Why do I feel like this? Why does free feel so shitty?

What I needed was the money, not the services. I really dislike how many people want to barter services with me for social media assistance. I’m actually resentful when they propose the idea. Why? I think my why is two-fold. One, I worked really fucking hard to know what I know and I want to be paid for it. Two, my water bill wants to be paid in real dollars, not services.

Free is costly, in my opinion.

There is nothing about free that is 100% free. You have to spend something along the way to collect on something free. For example:

  • It might be your time – time is a nonrenewable resource and maybe the most precious thing you own.
  • It might be stress – you want to collect on free merchandise, but you’re stressed thinking about the date you have to collect by, or getting a parking spot to the store where the merchandise resides or wondering if they will have any more of that particular free merchandise, etc.
  • It might be choices – you have to decide to give up one thing to do another thing instead.

What about value? How will anyone ever value another person’s craft, talent, business, etc. if they never charge for it? Where is the logic in offering your services for free there?

Free is never free.

I have even started to avoid certain people who only want to trade services. This is not winning me any friends, I assure you!

I get text messages on my mobile devices and direct messages on Facebook and Twitter about how come they haven’t seen me in a while. So why is it so hard to be honest with them? I’m too much of a fucking weenie, to be honest, and say, “I don’t want to do anything for free anymore.”

They want me to:

  • Review LinkedIn profiles for them.
  • Post Facebook content for them.
  • Run a social media training for their staff.
  • Write professional bios of their employees.

The list goes on and on and on. You would wince if you had a glance at my Wunderlist of the things I am doing for free. I have more than twenty-five requests right now for help on things I will never be paid for…that’s crazy, right?

I even question to myself, “Would I ask them for these services for free?” Hell, no! I won’t even try and collect on what they want to give me in exchange. So why do some people feel ok in asking for everything for free while others won’t (I’m asking…you know, for a friend…)

I’m an Earth Mother..

I truly hate being a meanie, too. I don’t want to be put in a position of saying, “Thanks, but I want dead presidents in my pocket, not a bag of shake mix.” Being a nurturer might be one of my most womanly traits (I don’t have a uterus anymore, so I guess I need something, right?). I don’t want to stop caring about people or become some mean girl who nobody likes.

So many articles today say you have to give away your talent to people to get them to be inspired to hire you….HUH? WHO started that crazy shit? Why is that even a thing?

Think I’m kidding?

  • OpenForum: When Giving Away Your Product or Service For Free Is A Smart Move
  • Inc.: How to Make Money by Giving Your Product Away for Free
  • For Entrepreneurs: The Power of Free

Sigh, so what’s a gal to do? I will tell you: I end up giving away TOO much for free.

I’m an enthusiastic sharer by nature and I have to learn to control that part of my personality. I am passionate about what I do, I love helping others, and too often people are ready to take advantage of it.

I recently had a client who he has a client who makes $400,000 a year (I do not) and wanted me to call and help the client out. Great, right? I get the call and guess what- they wanted me to do it for free…you know as a favor for the first client who paid me to do work which was delivered per our contract. Because of stupid articles like the ones above I shared, this quickly became the most awkward conversation I’ve ever had as a professional and to be honest, the two of them were manipulating the situation so I kind of felt bullied into doing it. Guess what, I caved and did it to avoid the negative feedback I could potentially receive for not helping the person. This is real stuff which happens a lot in my life.

What did I learn from all of this?

What I must learn to do is value the worth of my work and create a strong fee integrity going forward. For too long I’ve undervalued my services and guess what attracts these losers to my practice? Other losers who won’t stand their ground (like me, but no more!). I deserve to be paid for work rendered.

This year has taught me to revisit my business strategy and although I cannot commit that I will charge for every single thing I do for someone, you can bet your ass there will be no more bartering, no more slimy favors, and no more IOUs.

This broad is done with free! Eff free! 



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