If You Don’t Charge For It They Won’t Respect It

As an addendum to yesterday’s post, I thought it might be interesting to talk about the ingratitude of clients who get work for free.

(I should just say that I am writing this a few minutes after watching Season 2, Episode 7 of Mad Men. If you’ve never seen it or don’t recall, it’s the episode where Peggy has to make a poster for the local church dance. She does it as a favour but in a brilliant scene the two old ladies on the church committee are as picky and demanding as a massive paying client.)

Having experienced this in many guises (work for friends, internal work, work for charities, ‘favours’ etc.) I try to avoid it (unless it’s a charity I really believe in, or a client I can trust not to be a prick). This is because the hoops you have to jump through are no less than with a paying client, but you can’t help feeling that you are putting forth a kindness that ought to be appreciated.

If you are going to make the effort to do a bunch of work for someone for nothing then, assuming you haven’t gone crazy with brief, you should have that work accepted. The rebriefs, nit-picking and dissatisfied sighs are, frankly, really rather rude and I’m surprised at how often they appear (this may be due to the quality of my work of course).

So, no more.

But this reminds me of a piece of advice one of my bosses once gave me – the title of this post.

And it’s true. You do something for free, it is immediately stripped of the value it has in the most common measure we have, and that means it is stripped of most of its value.

Shame, really.

Giving stuff away is one of life’s great pleasures.