Friday, 25 March 2016

May i have your services for free?

Yesterday, a friend of mine screen-cap a twitter mention. It says, "Hi, can we have coffee, plus do a personal consultation, but for free? Thank you."

Well, this friend of mine has a lot friends that sells services for a living. They are psycologist, writers, coywriters, graphic designers, financial planners, public speakers, videographers, art directors, business consultants, illustrators, etc. So of course, this post made us all told our own tales of people shamelessly asking us to give our services for free.

Here's the thing. The day has come for us to speak up. Because, i think it's time for people to understand what we actually feel when we do not have the heart to say No.

Every human being were given a gift or some gifts by God. These gifts were meant to be used to make a living and make us feel happy while doing it.

Some people are good with money and investments, so they became financial planners. Some people good at doing business, so they sell business consultancies. A lot of people can write a copy that moves people to buy, so they became copywriters. Tons of people are good at drawings, or designs, or manage an events, so they became illustrators, designers, and event organizers.

All these people made our pinterest board filled with beautiful array of inspirations and aspirations. Table settings, event decorations, flower arrangements, artwork, beautiful photography, etc. 

Other people have expertise that we rarely get from school or universities. We learn a lot from them through seminars, workshops, talk shows, their youtube channel, their books, etc.

I think all these people sells things that made everything more beautiful and meaningful. Yet, they are some of the most undervalued people in our country. 

People had repeatedly came to me to ask Gogirl to write or produce a video content for their websites or inhouse magazine. The catch was, they wanted it for free or would only pay 1/10 of our price. When we politely declined, they replied by shaming us, like we were gold diggers for asking our rate. 

Most often, i get asked a lot to speak at multiple events, but when i ask for my fee, they grew annoyed or shamed me or belittle me or saying things like, "We never have to pay for a speaker." Or "This event is for students only, can you waive your fee." or "Are you dreaming? No speaker is that expensive!"

The thing is, it's really okay if people does not want to use my service or if i'm too expensive for some people. But it crossed the line when they said things that made me feel like i don't matter. Like my experiences and expertise does not worth that much. 

What i share in speaking occasions are 1. My Time, 2. My Experience, 3. My Expertise. I recently calculate how much my time worth at and the result was : 1 hour of my time worth US$ 466 per hour or about 6 million rupiah per hour. What this means is, if i work for less than 6 mio per hour, i'm wasting money. Now if take a speaking job, usually it takes about 2-3 hours. Let's factor in the time i need to spend to get to the location, and then, normally after the gig it self, people do come over and talk to me and ask me more questions. Very often, i had to do a mini therapy session right then and there, because there are always people whose root problems are mainly huge ego or huge self doubt. So i'd spend half a day for one speaking event. It means that time is worth about 24-36 mio. Now if i spend 4-6 hours working on my business, i would have had about 9 one on ones meetings, close 2 deals that worth a lot, and i'd use the time left to chop of some big project. So is it so surprising if I charge 7-15 million per speaking job? It's already a lot of discount from how much my time actually worth, but that's when people started giving me all the hurtful responses. Rejection is fine. But the added resentment, well that's a bit much. Other times people say things like, "You make so much money, can't you do this for charity?" I think the key to any charity is that, it has to be for a cause that move us, and we have to want to give it from our hearts. When people ask us to give our services for charity, it kinda feel like forced charity.

I guess the best that i can show you how it feel is this. Do you know those booths from Unicef, WWF, SOS, Yayasan Jantung Indonesia? You know how they corner you, and ask you all these question, and basically ask you to give your heart (and money) to a good cause. How many of us care about children and animal wellfare? Countless, i bet. But forced charity isn't something we enjoyed doing or giving. Does that mean we are insensitive human being? No. We just don't feel good when people guilt trip us to do something, no matter how good the causes are.

You see, that's how people feel when you ask "forced charity" as in giving our services and advices for free or a ridiculusly cheap rate. Think about how you feel, when people guilt trip you to do something. Think about how you feel, when people tell you that your time doesn't matter to them. Think about how you feel when people used you, overworked you, and pay you nothing or such a small salary. When we are undervalued, it can make our self-worth sink deeper everytime we completed a job. How can we be happy, when we feel robbed and unappreciated?

Here are some tips that you can do when you want to "hire" people to give you advices or do a creative job : 

1. Respect them. Never ask their fee for free. Paying fees too low (and too slow) are just as bad as asking it for free.
2. You can ask, what will you get from the fees that you are paying, and then you can compare them to other speakers, experts, designers, etc. This is your right as a client. 
3. You should factor in, what else they'll give you other than the service alone. For instance. I stay behind after speaking jobs for an hour (max) to talk to participants, which i think is very private and beneficial for them. The comittee can actually manage this and ask me to do a real private session and they could (and should) sell it exclusively to smaller number of participants.
4. Ask for a package deal.
5. Barter or semi-barter is okay, but remember, what you give should have a real monetary/profit value for the person you want to hire. You can ask them what they want, because what's valuable to them might be different to what you have in mind.
6. Remember, to people who sells services, time is their most valuable asset. So if you can't afford their private sessions, invest yourselves in their books, seminars, workshops, talkshows, public classes, online classes, etc. Trust me, What you'll get from them, (most of the time) will definitely last longer than those movie tickets-popcorns-blended drink combo you bought lastnight :D


  1. This case happens way too often in Indonesia. I don't get why it's so easy for people to ask someone to give/do something for free, especially when his/her job is related to creative industry. Hats off to you Mbak for speaking out. Hopefully it will help others to speak out as well and shed some lights to those who like to ask things for free.

  2. But GO GIRL asked one agency to do your digital improvement for free. The question right back at ya, sissy!

  3. Hah? Kapan? Which one? Which project? did we offer a barter in return? was it a package renewal or something? who asked you? Can you email me?

  4. just found out about your blog! amazing and inspiringg <3