If You Give Away Your Best Content, Will They Pay?

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Notes from Episode 16 from The Go Rogue Podcast

With Jason Miller from REd Barn Studios @jgmille

If You Give Away Your Best Content, Will They Pay?

“Do it for your portfolio.”

“This will just be great experience for you.”

“Can’t you give me a deal?”

We get a nervous tick when we read these phrases because we are so done with doing work for free. For some reason, especially in the creative space, clients don’t always understand the value of our work and have entirely different expectations than the industry standard. Gone are the days when we were just starting out and maybe didn’t know how to price ourselves or were willing to compromise a bit to grow our client list. But when is it actually beneficial to give away our content, products, or services?

When you’re just starting out and you’re tempted to give away your work.

Here’s a better idea: allocate that free work to an internship, apprenticeship, or just observe and help an industry peer. This way, we can get the hands-on experience, build our portfolio, and study the industry and how to price ourselves without setting an expectation that we will work for free. We tend to think of this option as only for creatives, but it can work for all businesses. Even if we’re the only one around doing what we’re doing, we can still do beta testing, trial runs, or something similar and ask participants to do something in return like give feedback, do an online review, or post about it on social media.

When it’s your choice because you want to provide value.

Sometimes, we like working with a client and we want to pour into that relationship to show our appreciation to them. We can do this by providing add-ons to their paid package, throwing in a few extra products, adding time to their service, and more. Jason Miller of Red Barn Studio’s best tip when we do this is to always include the extras on their invoice and then discount them so that they can see the value that we gave them for free and not come to expect that every time.

Jason laments that some of his worst clients to work with were the ones who did not have to pay for their service and did not understand the value of what they had been given. The GRX team agrees with this frustration and that is all the more reason why we should make sure our clients and customers know what they have been gifted. Loren says “There is a line to understand that we are a quality company and provide quality products, and we do deserve a monetary reward. But it’s more in a spirit of generosity within your company that once they’ve signed the dotted line, you’ll throw something on that you didn’t even ask for. Sometimes it’s not even something listed on our packages, but [you] just do it because [you] enjoy the relationship.”

When it’s for your friends or family.

There is a lot of pressure to give work away to those closest to us, and often, we want to do this for those we love, but we dread feeling undervalued and unappreciated. Jason’t best tip for this is to set the expectations up front about what they are getting and for how much, even if that’s nothing. This can be in the form of a contract, a sit-down meeting, or any other firm understanding of the situation.

When it will return value for you.

Bryan subscribes to the Gary V. notion of “Jab-Jab-Jab-Right Hook” This means that we provide value value value and then comes the ask for return. This can look like a free teaser video, a short trial, sample, or others, but the goal is to see that work return in full-price form.

When we hold a spirit of generosity and a value of ourselves in our hands simultaneously, we can show our clients that we deserve the respect of a quality business. When we appreciate them as customers and show them that respect with bonuses, we will often see that return on investment that we hope for. Our motto here at GRX is to Give Value and Build a Brand. We believe that when we provide that value up front, we will build a brand we can be proud of.


Bryan Fittin