Should TEST Work and Samples be FREE?

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It's always a good idea to start negotiations or work on a big project, with a small test work. You need to make sure that you're on the same page with your client. You also need to minimize the risks and avoid any disappointments. So, a test work is supposed to be a win-win solution for both parties. Now, the only question is, should it be free?

Try Before You Buy 

Every freelancer has walked in the client's shoes in his or her life. You want to buy a car. How about a test ride? You want to buy some candies. How about trying one before you pay for the whole bag? Now, there's a client who wants to hire you. Either he asks for it, or you offer a test work. I'm a writer. I will write a few paragraphs or the whole page. You are a designer. You can make the first simple draft of the future logo. Or, if you a virtual assistant, you can work for 15 minutes or so. It sounds like a plan, doesn't it?

Thoughtful Investment or Pointless Sacrifice?

At the end of one month, I ended up with a dozen test articles, I didn't get a single dollar for. Truth be told, few of these articles won me some nice projects, but not all of them, of course. Then, I did some simple math. If I were paid for each and any of these test articles, then that would have been an extra project regarding the value. So, I decided to turn on a new leaf in my freelance workbook. 

Now, if a client wants a test article, he or she has to pay for it. If a client is serious about the work, then this shouldn't be an issue. I have already heard a couple of complaints that my clients are risking their money this way. My answer was all the same. I'm also risking my time, I have to invest in the test work. I want to be compensated for my time. The clients want to make sure they're making the right choice for their money. So, it's a win-win again, doesn't it? Why should I be the only one to accept all the risk with the free test work? What's client risking with an attitude, do something and if I like it, I will pay for it and hire you? The answer is - nothing. Talk is cheap. Work isn't and shouldn't be. 

Every Word Is A Potential Double-Edged Sword

I'm also aware that my no-work-for-free, no matter how small it may be, attitude also comes at a price to pay. You present yourself as a potentially stubborn and not easy to work with a freelancer. Sometimes, a small leap of faith can pay itself off big time with a rewarding client. 

What's your opinion about test works and samples? Are you willing to offer or do them for free? Or, you are more of a TINSTAAFL (there-is-no-such-thing-as-a-free-lunch) kind of freelancer? 

Posted 28 January, 2018

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