The day before yesterday it happened again. I received an email that just oozed with “no pay for a lot of work” Aka. freeloading. Aka. work for free. It didn’t mention it exactly, but the mail wanted me to do a speaking gig and they said that it was “just 20-30 mins” that I needed to talk about social web strategies in front of people.
Now, a couple of years ago, I made a promise to myself that I didn’t wanted to work for free for people. Not even if it just is “20-30 mins” because it’s not. Here’s my working process when it comes to speaking gigs:
1 – I need to make sure that I deliver real value, and my ambitions drives me to work really hard to give something practical and genuine
2- I need to use a couple of hours to practice, because I want to be badass when I do speaking gigs and workshops. 3- Then I need to make it looks nice and communicate well, oh and use so much time and peace on getting grounded and get in the mood for delivering things on stage.
So you’re not just asking me for 20-30 mins for free, you’re asking me for a days work. I can achieve a lot in a day.
Anyway, when I get a request like this, that reads “free work” I always write a nice email back saying, “sure I would love to help you guys out – how much is your budget ?”
And this is where the phonecall comes from the “client” (if I can call them that), saying that they’re putting this together volunteerily and they can’t exactly pay me more than a couple of bottles of wine (Do you know how many bottles of wine I need before I feel like I’m payed for my work?)
This lady on the phone said that I should look at this “gig” as charity. Because I should be doing it in support of the entrepreneurs. And that was when I got really upset, because if there’s something I do, day in and day out, then it is to support the entrepreneurs. Fuck that, I got really offended. I know she’s probably just had a look on my speaker profile, ans she probably had no idea that she was talking to an entrepreneur supporteur extraordinaire=)
Anyway I just told her no, and that I didn’t work for free (well sometimes I actually do, but then it’s because I can see a reason to do it, like when the guys from Ted.com are calling me in a month or two – I probably won’t say that they need to pay me (because that would be plain stupid – but when I think about it, it would also be completely badass to turn ted.com down -LOL.))
I only do free work if I can see that the value for me doing it, is larger than the money they would be paying me.
But when I think of it, the reason I don’t want to do it, is that it becomes damaging to my brand if I do. People get the wrong perception of me on stage, because if I am not payed, then I know myself enough to know, that I wouldn’t prioritize it – because it’s a free gig.
And if I don’t prioritize it, I don’t feel good about it, and if I don’t feel good about it – I suck on stage. I mean do you know how much a person can screw up on stage in 20-30 mins? plus the audience is normally merciless if you start screwing up.
A thing I think that conference organizers could do, to get people to talk at their events for free, would be to get permission from all the participants that the speakers could mail them afterwards, and thereby enlarge the speakers database. Or they could make the speakers into sponsors instead. Actually stating they are doing it for free. But it’s not visible, it never is. It’s very hush hush, and I think that’s a problem. So make it visible that your speakers are working for free! if they are.
So thank you people for thinking I Rock – but you can’t get me to do things for free.