The biggest challenge a lot of entrepreneurs and performers face is getting paid.
Yes, there’s passion and the desire to change the world, and there’s certainly no shortage of great ideas out there – but at the end of the day nobody lives for free. We all need money.
That’s why working for free makes so much sense. It may seem counterintuitive – the general school of thought is that the price of your service is a reflection of the value you provide to your customer.
But getting people to pay for your service isn’t simple and unless you are a celebrity, it’s anything but straightforward.
It’s easy to turn your nose up at the concept of working for free it because everyone else is chasing the dollar, but working for free doesn’t have to be literal.
Let’s say you have a new business: cloud storage. Position yourself as an authority in that field by speaking with local businesses as often as you can about the benefits and pitfalls of cloud storage. For free. This forces you to identify and interact with your potential customers, and create an ongoing dialogue about what their needs are and how (if) your product/service can really help.
Or maybe you’re a performer. Perform for free every chance you get, and send a thank you card to every person who gives you a chance to do it. Volunteer to be a reader for casting directors during sessions.
The goal isn’t money. It’s relationships and exposure, which lead to conversation and awareness, and that opens the door to revenue.
In the 70s Jerry Seinfeld performed for eighteen month periods without a single night off. Unpaid. He worked the same five minute set four, five times a night at different clubs totalling about two hundred times, preparing for his first Tonight Show appearance in 1981.
That being said, it’s not an equal sum game. If your product sucks or you just aren’t any good on stage, you’ll need to re-group. More on finding the right fit here.
Working for free (and being smart about which opportunities provide exposure) takes the pressure off of the hard sell and creates an atmosphere of collaboration and ownership on the part of your client or audience. If they feel like they can discover something great they are more likely to talk about it to friends and colleagues.
Is it as fast as finding the sweet spot with pricing and putting cash in your pocket today? Probably not.
That’s the part where you decide if you want a gig or a career. If you want a quick sale or a loyal customer.
Careers have longevity. They are built on solid relationships that evolve over time.
Gigs end when you walk out the door.
Kahlil (at) gigsmacked (dot) com