How to Get Paid for Everything You Do

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photo credit: Historias Visuales via photopin cc

Far too often I see business owners and entrepreneurs just getting started that simply don’t value what they do enough because they don’t have the validation that comes with landing high-paying clients.

In short, in an effort to gain some traction and some exposure, they give everything away freely, or worse, get talked into doing things for people that don’t value what’s being given.

Here’s the deal though – everything you do has some value and you simply must start thinking this way if you even expect to rise above a meager existence. You must start to think about how to exchange value for everything you do.

Now, don’t get me wrong, there are times when you determine to do someone a favor or support a cause or mission with no thought of being paid for your time – that’s not what I’m talking about.

I’m talking about that instance when someone – often able to pay – wants you to provide a service for free or for a discount. Or that event that promises to give you great exposure if you come do your workshop without compensation.

The reality is that when someone gets something for free they value it far less than if they pay or exchange something for it. When you establish value – what you do becomes more valuable.

There can indeed be good reasons for waiving and discounting in exchange for things like exposure, but here’s my suggestion.

When someone makes a request like this think about exchanging value in a set way rather than saying yes and hoping something comes of it.

Here are some examples:

Get paid to speak

When someone asks you to speak to their lunch group, agree to do so willingly if you think it’s a fit, but also communicate that your normal speaking fee is $2,500 and in order to waive that fee you would like the ability to very casually educate the audience on your services.

The key here is to establish value and determine how you intend to collect it. It may be in the form of a list of attendees or ability to showcase your products in the back of the room. No matter what you suggest, make sure you communicate the process.

Get paid to provide a service

Let’s say you have a new service offering and you’re trying to drum up some initial clients. Offer a smoking hot deal in exchange for a full blown case study and testimonial video assuming they loved working with you.

These assets have value and it’s a far more appealing proposition than simply cutting your price. Now a customer gets a great deal and knows why.

Get paid for your product

Let’s say you have a new product and you’re trying to seed the market to get some users and customers talking about your product.

Reach out to handful of like-minded businesses and suggest a barter arrangement. That way you receive value for your product and perhaps initiate a few long term strategic marketing partner relationships.

Get paid to develop a product

This last one is one of my favorites. Let’s say you are developing a product or an online course. Reach out to some early prospects and offer to give them access as you are building the course in exchange for their systematic feedback and review of the course. (Good way to get lots of proofreaders too!)

Again, the key here is to think value first and price second. Sure, they’ll be a day when you can charge a premium for what you do, but in the meantime don’t let people take it.


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  1. I often see this issue with new Solo PR Pros – it’s easy to fall prey to those who promise experience and connections when you start out, since initially you don’t have much of either. These are excellent ideas for establishing the value of your services, whether or not money is exchanged. Shift to a value mindset – thanks for sharing, John!

  2. As a web professional, I run into problems after the new website is launched. There is always the “gray area” between what was requested and what was expected. Clients often never test the website closely and weeks/months later discover something is not as expected and want it changed for free. Is there a way to avoid/minimize this?

    1. I think it’s all about expectations – you know it’s going to happen so deal with it up front. Tell them they get x amount of support for x amount of time and then share your fire fighting support rate schedule for down the road.

  3. Hi John,

    I totally agree with you on the point that we need to value the skills and knowledge that we have.

    I personally feel as long there is an exchange of value, it will be worth it.

    Thanks for sharing 🙂


  4. Great job John! As a social media marketing professional I am very often asked out for coffee for someone to pick my brain. I finally started saying that would be great, I have a “pick my brain” hour and the cost is x. You can see very quickly who is serious about your services and who is just looking for a freebie.

  5. Great post John and very timely for me. I’m rebuilding my sponsorship business (events, podcasts, brands, etc.)

    I’ll use the tips you shared on getting paid to develop my product and providing services.

    Thanks for sharing!

  6. Yes, I agree. I would also say that learning something new that will allow you to accelerate your progress counts as payment, too. Get paid financially and learn something valuable.

  7. Spot on John! So many people I see starting out are afraid to ask going rate – they feel that they need to be undercutting more established people. It is important never to devalue yourself that way!

  8. AWESOME tips. It’s so practical it’s hard to believe that this is not the norm. So many people think they have to give and get nothing in return. Many times the giving without expecting concepts devalue their product or service.

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