Seriously, just ask.
So many freelancers will tell you not to do this, that giving away your work is a quick road to nowhere. I completely disagree. I almost want to advise that you build websites for anyone you connect with. But the kicker here is that you truly need a connection.
I’ve built many websites for free over the past 10 years. Some for family, some for friends, and some for work colleagues. What they all had in common was my belief in them and their ambitions for putting a website out there. Plus, I really love what I do. Building websites can be a constant challenge that results in huge satisfaction. I get such a buzz from taking what someone is imagining in their mind and making it a reality online.
There is a lot of great advice out there for insuring that as a designer or developer you are not taken advantage of. In fact, there is a huge push to make you not accept anything less then what you are worth. But that worth is being labeled with a dollar or pound sign. There is also HUGE value in making connections. In fact, this is such a massive part of not only doing business, but being human.
Most business coaches, bloggers, philosophers will advise that you can’t give away much of what you do for free. The feeling is that you immediately devalue what you are offering. In fact, there is psychological evidence that people value something less that costs £10 instead of £50, even if they are exactly the same thing. The problem with this belief is that it is not normally explored further.
A single commodity or possession will have less value to its owner if it is free, if that person tends to live their life with a more is more approach. Someone who is most likely attached to things and believes that their own value is tied up in what they have. This does such a disservice to those of us who realise that what we have is not defined by what we own.
I can see the disbelief on your face. I can feel the exasperation at thinking that giving your work away results in some Zen Buddhist enlightenment. I can see you putting labels on this so you can dismiss it. I understand.
In the past 7 or 8 months I have build 4 websites for pay and 5 websites for free. I’m not going to say that those 4 websites earned me so much money I could afford to do those 5 websites for free, because they didn’t. They earned me enough to pay my bills. Building those 5 free websites created great connections in my life. I got to catch up with an old friend that I forgot how much I enjoyed being with. I made another person practically collapse in gratitude for helping them out. Plus, some of those websites eventually put my face and talents in front of 10s if not a 100 future possibilities.
On top of great connections, I also had time. I was able to not work and not stress from December to February. I went snowboarding in March. Most importantly, I was able to pick up and drop off my son to school every single day. This wasn’t achieved by building 9 websites charging double or triple my normal rate. This was done by putting connections with people ahead of money in the bank.
I do not own my house, my car is over 10 years old, and I spend any extra money on travel and experiences. As long as I can continue to do this, I will continue to build websites for free.