How much pro bono work is too much?

June 19th, 2010

Maybe you went into business for yourself because you had a million-dollar idea. Or you wanted to set your own hours. Or you wanted to exercise your right to turn away clients who wouldn’t recognize integrity if it slapped them upside the head.

Whatever your MO for going solo, you probably hoped to make that proverbial difference in the world, no matter how small. Chances are, though, your desire to pay it forward has led you to bite off more pro bono work than you can chew somewhere along the way.

Get in over your head with non-paying clients and, at best, your schedule and quarterly earnings take a beating. At worst, you realize you’re dealing with an ungrateful, opportunistic customer, at which point resentments flare, fur flies, and bridges burn.

So how much pro bono work should you accept? How should you choose the customers to whom you donate your services? And most important, how do you ensure these friendly freebies don’t land you in the scope creep sinkhole

[Read the rest of this article on American Express OPEN Forum.]

Entry Filed under: Money honey,Popular articles,This freelance life

3 Comments Add your own

  • 1. Mridu Khullar  |  June 22nd, 2010 at 4:43 am

    I’ve found that the way to do this kind of work is by charging something, anything, but at a very low rate. That ensures that the person respects somewhat your limitations and the fact that you’re doing WORK. Even if it’s just $10, I think it’s worth charging a tiny amount to make sure that customers realize that this is a service you’re providing and that you get paid a lot of money for them elsewhere.

  • 2. Small Business Resources  |  July 3rd, 2010 at 12:40 am

    I think as long as a community will be benefited then its a good opportunity to offer pro bono work. Thanks for the great info here.

  • 3. The Anti 9-to-5 Guide &ra&hellip  |  July 11th, 2010 at 12:06 pm

    [...] Set firm limits on pro bono work. I think by now you all know how I feel about PIE [...]

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Who I am

Hi, my name's Michelle Goodman and I've been freelancing since 1992. I'm author of My So-Called Freelance Life and The Anti 9-to-5 Guide. Read my full bio here.

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