Should You Work For Free?


Hey friends,

I interviewed writer extraordinaire Nicolas Cole on my Deep Dive podcast the other day. And we got talking about ‘the return-on-investment (ROI) on free work’.

See, most people make the mistake of charging too early when they’re breaking into a new industry (eg as a copywriter or video editor).

That builds a barrier: ‘you have to pay $X to work with me’. So they end up competing with thousands of other freelancers on Upwork or Fiverr, and 99% of potential clients never see their work.

The smarter alternative is to work for free – but be strategic about it.

Draw up a list of dream collaborators.

Then send out sample blogs, video edits, or pieces of graphic design you’ve made especially for them, for free. Post it on social media as well, saying ‘check out this cool thing I made for X’.

If an influential person sees work you did for them and really likes it, I almost guarantee they’ll offer to pay for more.

If a video editor turned one of my full-length videos into an amazing YouTube Short for free, I’d throw money at them to produce more.

But most people don’t realise this.

So they send generic emails saying ‘hi, I’d like to work with you, my rate is X’. And these emails get ignored, because I just don’t have the time to get into a long email discussion and look through someone’s portfolio.

Now, a lot of people say ‘never, ever work for free, people will take advantage.’ And I 100% agree that if a sketchy person asks you to ‘write a few blog posts for free so I can see how good you are’, you should say ‘no’.

But if you’re strategic about doing free work (and good at what you do), I promise that the money & collaborations will start flooding in.

Have a great week!

Ali xx

📖 Shortform

I recently read the summary of Ego is the Enemy by Ryan Holiday on Shortform, and it was a great way to refresh my memory about the book’s basic points.

Here’s Shortform’s introduction to the book (which they follow up with a chapter-by-chapter breakdown):

In Ego Is the Enemy, bestselling author and marketer Ryan Holiday defines ego as an unhealthy belief in one’s own importance that goes beyond mere confidence-it’s a sense of superiority that makes us see everyone around us as either subservient or oppositional. He notes that many successful people are famously egotistical, and he contends that as a result, society tends to think that ego is an important ingredient in success, as if ego leads to accomplishment. However, Holiday argues that ego leads far more often to failure, and that people find success only when they are able to control their egotistical impulses.

I highly recommend Shortform for getting the key ideas from a book, or if you want to test drive books before reading them cover-to-cover.

If you want to sign up, use my link for a free trial and 20% off.

♥️ My Favourite Things

🎙️ Deep Dive Podcast – Eight Sleep’s Founders On Optimising Your Sleep. I talked to two founders of the world’s first sleep fitness company, Eight Sleep, and they gave me a masterclass in how to take care of your sleep through exercise, nutrition, and thermoregulation.

🏋️‍♀️ Massage Gun – Theragun Mini. I put off getting this for a long time. But after seeing it on a lot of YouTubers desks and in Zoom call backgrounds, I decided to pull the proverbial trigger and order one from Amazon. Now when I get a spare minute I whip it out and give myself a mini-massage to unwind, and it’s glorious. It’s a fun toy for visitors and team members to play with too.

📚 Book – Copywriting Secrets by Jim Edwards. This is a must-read if you’re looking to improve your writing skills (and get more customers if you’re running a business). Jim talks you through a bunch of practical, easy-to-understand techniques that’ll improve your copywriting. Blew my mind in tonnes of places.

🎭 Theatre – To Kill a Mockingbird. I saw this play in London, and it was so worth it. A courtroom drama about racism in the American South. If you aren’t in London check out the classic movie version.

🎬 My New Videos

📚 The 15 Best Books I Read in 2022 I read some great books this year – here are my fifteen top recommendations.

👎 How I Failed in 2022 – It’s been a mostly smooth ride for me as a YouTuber/entrepreneur since I started 5 years ago, but this year has provided some new challenges. So I decided to chronicle some ‘failures’ from the last year.

✍️ Quote of the WeekMy formula for success was very simple: Do whatever is put in front of you with all your heart and soul without regard for personal results. Do the work as though it were given to you by the universe itself – because it was.

From The Surrender Experiment by Michael A. Singer. Resurfaced using Readwise.

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