The Female Fusion Podcast!

The Female Fusion podcast is your go-to resource for inspiration, motivation, and practical advice for female entrepreneurs.

Hosted by Jen Blandos, a seasoned entrepreneur with over 20 years of experience building successful businesses, this podcast features insights and expertise from some of the world's top female entrepreneurs and industry experts.

Whether you're just starting out or looking to take your business to the next level, the Female Fusion podcast is here to help you achieve your business goals.

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Episode Takeaways 

  • Working for free can undervalue our work and make it harder to charge what we're worth later on.
  • Some big companies might try to get small businesses to work for free, but we need to be careful and evaluate if it's really worth it.
  • It's important to stand in our power and charge for our expertise, even if it's for a company that isn't likely to become a paying customer.

Show Notes

This week's podcast episode is all about something that's been a hot topic lately - working for free. As entrepreneurs, we've probably all been in that situation where we're asked to work for free in exchange for "exposure" or to build up our portfolio. But is it really worth it?

In this episode, we'll dive into why we shouldn't be working for free, except in a few select circumstances. When we work for free, it undervalues our work and makes it harder to charge what we're worth later on. We'll also talk about how some big companies try to get small businesses to work for free and why we should be careful about those offers.

I'll share some personal stories about turning down requests to speak or lead workshops for free, even for International Women's Day. It's important to stand in our power and charge for our expertise, especially when it's for a company that isn't likely to become a paying customer.

So tune in to hear more about why free doesn't pay the bills and why we need to value our work. And here are three key takeaways to keep in mind:

  • Working for free can undervalue our work and make it harder to charge what we're worth later on.
  • Some big companies might try to get small businesses to work for free, but we need to be careful and evaluate if it's really worth it.
  • It's important to stand in our power and charge for our expertise, even if it's for a company that isn't likely to become a paying customer.

Want more?

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Show transcription

[INTRO] Hi there. I'm Jen Blandos, the founder of Female Fusion Network. I've been an entrepreneur for over 20 years with experience in building seven figure businesses and working around the world. Originally, I'm from Canada, but I've been living in Dubai for the past 14 years. I've created this podcast to share my insights and expertise as a global entrepreneur and help other women start, build, grow, and scale their businesses. You'll also hear from some of the world's top experts and female entrepreneurs who will inspire and motivate you to achieve your business goals. So join me as we explore all that the world has to offer and build the business of your dreams. Let's get started. 

Hello, and welcome to Women on the rise. This is Jen Blandos, from female fusion. And I am back with another episode. And this week, we're going to talk about something that is getting, I get so many people asking me about this. And I see this spoken about on social media. And it's just such an important topic for business owners. And that is what I'm calling free, doesn't pay your bills. And I want to talk about why as entrepreneurs, we shouldn't work for free. And when we should maybe do a bit of work for free. But in the most part, I really strongly believe that we shouldn't be working for free. Why is that? Okay? I often hear from people when they are just starting out in business, that they think that it's really important for them to be working for free to build up their portfolio, to be able to get clients or customers and there are certain times you can do that. But for the most part, we should not be working for free. Many times, it's sometimes some of the biggest companies that try to get small businesses to work for free. And I don't think that you should ever, ever work for free, except for under a few circumstances, which I'm going to talk about, but you shouldn't be working for free, because that's going to really start to erode the value that you provide. And it's undervaluing your work. When you start working for free. It's kind of hard to get your price up again afterwards. And people will question if you're good.

I remember, about a year ago, I met a woman who was a coach, and she had been a coach for about three years she had gone through her training. And she had as part of her training, she had to provide a certain number of hours for free. But three years on, after getting qualified, she still wasn't making any money. And she was working for free. And she was saying to me, she said, You know, I find it really hard to go and tell people that they have to pay for something, when I gave it to them for free in the first place. Now, this is something I mean, this is also a mindset thing. And we spoke about this and the importance of why she needed to put a price on what she does. But if you are constantly doing things for free, word gets around for that. And either people are going to be like go to this person, you can get it for free. Or people are also going to question if you are good try whenever possible not to be doing that. The other thing I hate Oh, I hate this one so much. And I've heard this from very large multinationals either asking for big, big, big discounts or completely free. And that is the whole line and I'm sure you've heard this before. Work for us for free now, and we're going to tell everybody about you. We are such a big company that you know we have other companies within our portfolio group or we know lots of people and we're going to tell everyone about you and you're going to get lots of work that very, very, very rarely happens. And what happens even if you work for them for free now and they tell everybody else about you, you are not going to be able to get the rate that you want to be charging. If you are going to work for free think very carefully about that.

I got asked around International Women's Day, you know International Women's Day at female fission we get so many requests to speak at different things or to lead workshops or to give talks on different things speak on panel discussions, and I turn down almost all of them, I, we can have a whole other conversation about that about why turn them down. But a couple of the ones that I found very interesting were companies who wanted to have a workshop about equality, where women in the workplace or some sort of theme, I can come up with 100 different workshops, I could do around that. But they would come to me and say, We want you to come and run a workshop, or come speak at this lunch, or do something over zoom for an hour with all of our employees, because we want to inspire them around International Women's Day. Well, from my perspective, you got to pay for that, especially if it's a company, especially if it is something which they're putting on because of International Women's Day, they have to expect that they need to pay for experts. And the same thing goes for you, whatever it is, and whatever your zone of genius is that if it's especially if it's somebody who is most likely not going to be your ideal paying customer, but you have knowledge or expertise in something that they would like to share with their employees, or customers or clients that you need to charge for it.

And you need to stand in your power to charge for that. Now, around International Women's Day, I got asked by a number of companies who were never going to be our ideal paying customer, they were not going to become members of female fusion. And so when I was asked, I simply responded with our right cart, have a rate card, had the price down, said what it included and said, Here you go, if you would like to book us, here's the rate, here's the form that you can fill in, we will get back to you with more information and confirm it. And that I mean, that's a decision for me. But I think it's really important that you set those boundaries, and you make it very clear about not working for free, especially if it's something which is not your ideal paying customer.

The other problem,when we work for free, we attract the wrong type of client, how many times and you know, we've all worked for free at some point right in our lives, whether it's with our current business, or when we've been doing something else. There's always been times when we had been doing things for free. But what I find is the people who gravitate towards free, who gravitate towards expecting that you're going to do things for free, are not going to be the kind of customer that you want to have. Because they're always going to be cheap, they're always going to try and negotiate on price. And or try and get things for free.

Now, I know some people who have businesses who set up businesses that are focused around doing good, so good causes, whether it is something to do with health, you know, maybe it might be something around cancer awareness, or health and wellness, mental health, or if it might be something around, you know, even entrepreneurship or around children. And oftentimes people expect that because they are doing good, even though they have a business and they're a registered business, and they have fees that they charge. But because they are doing good, that naturally they should work for free. And this is the the line that I say all the time to our businesses and female fission when they get assets, as I say to them, free does not pay your bills, like anybody else, you have rent to pay or you have a mortgage to pay, you have food to buy, you have all of these different things that you have just to live not only to run your business, that you are attracting the wrong type of clients, so they might not be willing to pay. But do you know what you've just freed up half a day or a day of your time where you can do work for other people who will pay you or you can take the afternoon off and go to the beach or you can use that time to create something new that will generate money for your business. Those people who want you to work for free or want you to work for exposure or to be in their press release or to have your photo appear on their social media. They're always going to be the wrong type of client.

The other thing too is when we start working for free, it takes up a lot of our time. Everything that we do takes up time and Think about that time when you're trying to decide to somebody comes to you and says, Oh, you know, could you do this for free for this or that reason? It takes a lot of your time to do this, preparing, showing up on the day, maybe doing some sort of follow up sticking around afterwards. Where could that time be better used. And I look at this a lot within the business, because I get asked, especially for speaking engagements, I get asked every single day to speak at events or be on podcasts or be on TV or radio. And I've started to really evaluate things and look at it and go, right. Is this the best use of my time? Also, is there anybody else in the business? Who could do this? If it is going to be valuable with our ideal paying customer? Or could I be doing something else? Could I be doing something for our members? Could I be thinking of something new to launch? Or could I just take a couple of hours off and not do anything and not work for free? We need to we need to ask ourselves these questions. The other thing that happens when you give things away for free, people don't take action on it. They don't take it seriously, how many times have you gotten something for free, and you don't take action on it, whether it is advice, or you're a service based business, or even a product based business.

So I found two when I've talked to our product based businesses, about things like free samples, or little freebies that they will do on things. And the really successful businesses are the ones that are very selective on who they give it to. And I was talking to one of our members about that. And she was saying to me, that she has a conversation first to judge to see what kind of customer that person might be. So to listen to kind of the questions that they might ask, if they're asking really detailed questions about, you know, what does this product do? How would it work with this, and then oftentimes what she would do with those customers, because she would get a sense that if they would try her product, that actually, they would become big customers, that she would actually go and make up a little sample pack and be like, Hey, here's the sample pack, try my product, see what you think. And if this works with you really happy, you know, here, come back, this is what I recommend, but see if it works for you. And I have to say as well that she did that with me. And I was talking to her about that for for a specific product that I wanted to buy for my home. And she did that, and I tried it out at home. And it was amazing, super amazing. And I've actually become one of her biggest customers and fans. And I don't think that I necessarily would have tried it. If she wouldn't have given me maybe that free Starter Pack. But that's where you have to take a bit of the the judgment and decide if that is going to work or not. And you know, the other thing as well is that we have to have skin in the game, right.

And by that I mean that if you're not paying, you're you're oftentimes not motivated to do the work. And we've even changed things around in Female Fusion that when you join Female Fusion now you have to commit for a year. And the reason for that is that if you don't you don't have you don't have skin in the game, you're not committed to focus to go and do the work. And I find that as well. I've spoken before several times, I spend $1,000 a month to be in a mastermind. And I show up, I pay attention. I do the work, I listened to the masterclasses or I read the updates, I follow what's going on in the community group for that mastermind. Because it works. But you know, I need to go and carve out the time to go and do that. But it helps.

So again, when you are doing things for free. There's no skin in the game. When we're working for free, it means that we've got this mindset that we don't have abundance that we don't have money, we're not good enough. We shouldn't be charging for things. And if you are a business, you need to charge for the work that you do. You're not in business to have a hobby, you're in business to actually have a business and make money. And there is absolutely nothing wrong with making money and you should be proud of making money. And even if you make a lot of money, that's amazing. If you want to give away part of that money if you want to use it for other things. That's super cool as well. Oh, but don't be afraid to charge for what you're doing. Don't be afraid to have that abundance within your business. Because if you are working for free, you're not getting paid, it's going to lead to burnout, it's going to lead to you getting so exhausted, that even if you do have paid opportunities present themselves, you're just not even going to be motivated to do it. And I've gotten to the point now that I say no to pretty much everything, unless it is something, which is going to be really, really relevant for our members. So for example, I work for free, or I speak for free, when it is things like entrepreneurship conferences. So I know that that is going to get me in front of people who are people who might join our membership, who might be part of the female fusion membership, it might raise my profile, it might help connect me with people that I wouldn't already know. And this is something when you're building your brand and your profile, absolutely, you need to go and do that. But there's also limits.

So for example, if you get asked to speak in front of a company, or do something for free for a company that has nothing to do with your business, or where your clients come from, you need to charge for that, that is something which should not be for free. You could also as well sometimes have a cause that you believe in and agree to do that work to provide that product that service, because it's a cause that you really believe in. And I do find that, for example, for me that there are certain things that I'm really passionate about, that if I can lend my time to be able to support other women in particular, you know, women in business, or also children, I have a really soft spot for children and giving opportunities to children, and also animals. So for me, it's female entrepreneurs, children, and animals, that those are causes that oftentimes, I'm quite happy to go and give a bit of my time in. And that's okay. And you know, it's also okay, as well, if you're new, and you want to get experience in an area that you don't have experience on. That's super cool to go and do that as well. But you need to make sure that you set a limit on that, because you don't want to be like, you know, the the woman who I spoke with a few years ago, who was the coach who had been coaching people for free for three years, because she didn't know how to start asking for money after she'd done her initial number of free coaching sessions. And she just kept coaching people for free, and thought that she was getting the experience, but nobody was paying her for it. So that as well as that you need to set a limit on it. If you do need to get the experience, that's okay, but set a limit on it. And you also as well want to make sure that you get the feedback or the testimonials that you can use to put that out to the world to for people to buy. So be strategic. If you are if you are doing things for free, that it needs to be win win for everyone. So okay, you agreed to do something, and you're not going to get paid for it. What do you get in return? And how do you make sure that you're going to benefit from that, you also want to be very organized. So you could do something for free as well that you could add it on as a as a bonus. So if you're doing work already, that you're getting paid for. But maybe you want to show a customer or client that you appreciate them maybe if you're a product based business, you want to give them an extra product or a small amount of an extra product for free as a thank you to increase your customer retention and loyalty. Or it could be an extra service, anything like that you could add it on as a bonus for work that you're already getting paid for. That could be okay, sometimes.

The other thing too is references are very powerful. And if you are doing work for free, and if it's for a company or an organization that that reference is going to be so powerful. Okay, work for free, that's fine. You can go work for free, but make sure that you have agreed with them in advance that you are going to do this and then you are going to get a reference and use that reference to promote your product or your service to help you get more clients. But I really want to to remind everybody that working for free should be used in very, very limited amounts, you need to stand in your power, as I say, you know, you need to know that the service or the product that you have is adding so much value to the world. And you need to be okay with asking for what you're worth. And, you know, there might be times where you're going to doubt yourself because you ask what you're worth. And people say no. And then somebody else says, No, and somebody else says, No. And you start to doubt yourself and go, Oh, I don't know him, should I be charging for this may be nobody's gonna pay for it. But that's where you also want to as well look and think, am I talking to the wrong people, okay, so these people might not pay for it. But who is going to pay for it, who is going to go and value what it is that I'm going to do? Look for better clients, go out and hold out for the clients that are the ones who are going to value you and pay for you. So one set of clients or customers might not pay for you. But then another group might, and really value it and appreciate it, champion you and refer you to other people as well. But when you're doing this, if you are asking for money, if you are asking for money for yourself personally, or for your business, whether it's a product or a service, you need to make sure that you're going to be marketable. So we can ask for money, we can stand in our power and say, you know, I'm charging what I'm worth. But you also need to go and walk the talk in a way and you need to go and show them that you are worth the money that you're asking for.

So for example, if you have constantly been speaking for free, or doing training workshops for free, and maybe it's not for your ideal paying customer that the time has come that you want to ask for payment, but you need to show them that you're going to be valuable. So that's going to be you're going to need to have a profile written about yourself, if you're a public speaker, or you're delivering training, you also want to have photos, you want to have a really good website that backs that up. And you need to have a right card. So don't just go and say, Oh, well, how much are you willing to pay me? How much is your budget, go in, stand tall, be confident, and give them your rate card. And I find that having a rate card. So a rate card is basically like a piece of paper, I have mine electronically, that says for this service, it costs this much for this service, it costs that much that one, here's the price. And the reason why I do that is it cuts out any awkward conversations. And before I get into things like proposals before I get into having detailed discussions, if somebody says to me, Hey, Jen, you know, I want you to speak at this conference. So we'd like female fission to do this, or we'd like to do this partnership or collaboration. Depending upon what they're asking for. I have a right card for me personally, for Jen turning up and doing different things that people ask for. And then I have a right card for female features. And I'll share that right card and attached on the right card as well, is links to the key things that they would need.

So for example, for me, it would be things like my profile, my photos, links to any sort of social media, anything that they need to make a decision to decide if they're going to hire me for something. And then the same thing as well for female fusion, but I put the rates down. And I'm very clear with people that this is what it costs. If you don't want to pay that. That's okay. You know, that means that they are not your ideal paying customer. But remember that the better quality that you can make everything. So if you have all of this super organized, the higher price you can charge. And it comes down to everything right. You know, I was speaking with another member who was saying to me the other day, I just, I feel really lost because I'm not getting customers. First thing I said to her, Do you have a website? The answer was no. Then I said, Do you have a right cart? The answer was no. So do you have a biography and photos about you and about the services that you're providing? The answer was no. And I said to her, how can you find people who are going to pay for what you're providing? If you don't have a website so they can't see who you are and what you're doing? If you don't have a right card, and if you don't tell them exactly what it is that you're doing and what you can offer to them. It sounds so simplistic right but so many people don't have this and if they If you and if you are one of those businesses where you're like, Well, I'm working for free, and I hate it. But you don't have things like a website, or you know your rate card, your profiles, photos, and I'm talking professional photos, I'm not talking about you standing in a lift and taking a selfie holding your phone up, that's not professional, you need to get a photographer to take headshots of you. And if your product based business, also if your products as well. So it's something that's going to help you make as much money as possible. Because remember, the better quality that everything is, the more money that you're going to be able to get. So when it comes down to this, that there are a few small adjustments that we can make to get paid. But I am such a big believer that free doesn't pay the bills. So it really means that you need to stand in your power, and charge what you're worth. If you don't know what you're worth, if you don't know what those rates should be. This is where you need to add the research into that as well. And you need to do some analysis of what's being charged in other markets by your competitors. So you can go and put together a price which is going to be correct, depending upon your experience, or your product or your service and the quality that you're offering. But do make sure that you know what you're worth what you can charge, put it down, have a rate card, and be clear on that. Now, if you want to negotiate, that's a whole other whole other discussion, I'm going to do a whole other podcast on negotiation and different skills that we can have around negotiation. But do not be afraid to ask what you're worth. And, you know, by by constantly working for free, you're devaluing yourself and devaluing what you can bring to the world. Now, there are those few occasions as I said, where we might be okay with working for free. But do try and get in the habit of saying no, and sending them your rate card. And being prepared to walk away from an opportunity if it's not going to benefit you to wait for something that starts to pay. And it might take a little bit of time, it might take a few months. But you're going to have more and more of that confidence, to be able to stand in your power, and to be able to really ask what you work what you're worth. So, remember, free doesn't pay your bills, stand in your power. Ask what you're worth, stop working for free. And that my lovelies is my view on why we shouldn't be working for free. I will see you on the next week's edition of our podcast. Have a great day everyone.