#365DaysOfWriting Day 41: Free Stuff

We all love free stuff. If you want to boost sales, throw in a free anything with the product you intend to sell, and sales are bound to increase. As a kid, I remember experimenting with a range of health drinks from Milo to Viva and Boost only because at that particular point of time, they were giving out some free goodies. I don’t know how many of you’ve tried Viva, but it sucked! My brother and I took one sip out of our mugs and spat it out! We never ever went back to it. Lays (it was Ruffles Lays back in those days) gave out free tazos and tattoos with one packet of chips and that time all of us went berserk eating one packet after another, collecting tazos, taking them to school, and showing off our respective collections to friends.

As a kid, I remember experimenting with a range of health drinks from Milo to Viva only because at that particular point of time, they were giving out some free goodies. I don’t know how many of you’ve tried Viva, but it sucked! My brother and I took one sip out of our mugs and spat it out! We never ever went back to it.

That’s the true deal — no matter how many free things you dish out, if your product is substandard, you will only find yourself back to square one. You may be able to entice a customer once showing the carrot of free goodies, but if you want the customer to return, make sure that the actual product you sell is actually good. Look at Apple — they give nothing for free! Yet, they can actually boast of having millions of loyal customers who will not think twice before purchasing a new Apple product even though they may get similar stuff in other brands at a cheaper cost. Because, ultimately, if you are good and deliver on what you promise, customers are not going to leave you.

It has come to my notice that many organizations expect freshers, especially those in the creative field, to offer their services for free. They are rather pompous and go about saying, “We are giving you experience. You can do it free!” It is sad to see so many freshers actually falling into the trap, not realizing that by offering free services, at an unconscious level, they are themselves undermining their worth.

Free things have no value — when your mother forbids you from drinking cold water as you have a tendency to catch colds, you ignore her free advice, but when the doctor tells you to do the same and charges consultation fees, you abide by everything he says.

Even if you are new, you can make a start by charging a nominal rate for your services. Don’t be afraid of being turned down because you have quoted a price. Yes, the agency may not give you the assignment and may have found someone who is agreeing to do it for free, but you don’t need to encourage freeloaders to increase your career-graph. If you are good, no one will have any issues paying you. But yes, remember to quote your true worth — don’t undermine yourself and do not over-estimate yourself.

At the end of the day, value yourself and your skills. You have invested a lot of time, money and energy in honing them — don’t ever let their value diminish by falling into the trap of doing things for “free”.

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