Never give your work for free

Makes No Cents

There are many ways in which giving your work for free might help you. But, for me, it has hurt my business many times.

I got a call from a friend of a friend, asking for my help on a web project that another web developer left unfinished (first red flag). I’ve never done business with this guy (second red flag) and we’ve only seen each other a couple times. But since he was a friend of my best friend, I said “why not”. I needed the extra cash and had no other projects going on and the time to do it. On the call he explained to me the scope of the project and what had been done so far.

I thought about it for a minute and started to say what I was going to do to fix it and gave them a really small quote for it. After hearing their needs vs what they had, I stated clearly that I was only going to patch the current work to make it decent enough to publish, and what they really wanted needed more development time and a larger budget. He was a friend after all, so in a way, expected me not to charge full price. Plus, I would only be patching things in a small time frame.

Well, it turned out that, even though I put my work plan in writing, they still expected a full rewrite of the project and wanted not only patches but a whole new design under a very ridiculous budget. It got worse: I planned it would take a week of work assuming that all the content was already laid out and the access to the files will be immediate. I didn’t got the file access until the end of the week, then I was expected to deliver by the end of the day. I sent several emails clearing things out and collecting the new requirements according to their expectations and sent the new budget quote for the project. Well, by the end it took two more weeks to finish the job, my friend got the impression I let him down with his associates, they had a bad impression of me extending time, and I ended up working more hours with very low value and feeling that my work was not appreciated and abused by the friendship.

There’s a lesson I read somewhere that I keep forgetting: Never give your work for free (or undercharge for your work). Respect your work by giving it the value it deserves, and its value is in the price. When freelancing all you have is time to negotiate and if you undervalue it you’ll get frustrated eventually. If you are going to give it for free or on a discount, make sure your client knows that they are getting a discount or how much value you’re giving for free. Otherwise, they won’t respect your work and won’t value what you’re giving.


Yahoo sells Delicious bookmarks to Youtube Founders logo

Good news to those still fans of the social bookmarking site. On the delicious blog is now news that Yahoo! Inc has sold the property to the founders of YouTube, Chad Hurley and Steve Chen. Delicious will keep existing and will be part of their new company AVOS.

From the AVOS website, we read the following:

“We’re excited to work with this fantastic community and take Delicious to the next level,” said Chad Hurley, CEO of AVOS. “We see a tremendous opportunity to simplify the way users save and share content they discover anywhere on the web.”

That means that the service will continue to operate, and even better, to improve. So hopefully we can see a Firefox 4 compatible version of their browser plugin anytime soon. Lets see what else they come up with to improve the current site.

Some changes are already set. If you log in to your delicious account you will be prompted to confirm your authorization of migrating your data from Yahoo to the new Delicious home servers. If you do not authorize, your account will not be migrated and thus will be deleted.

I already signed up for the migration, and although I’ve been critical of proprietary software as a service solutions, I find delicious (and its firefox & chrome plugin integration) very handy and useful. I’d love to see free bookmarking services like Scuttle to improve to match Delicious, or see how develops, but in the mean time, I’m still a Delicious bookmarks user.