How easy is it for you to give something for free?  Do you question your motives behind that gift?

I was casually browsing my Facebook feed, when I came across the story of a restaurateur in Ireland who, in one paragraph, destroyed the request of a random guy asking for a free dinner in exchange for promoting the restaurant to his twitter followers.

I applauded both sides: the asking party, for being bold enough to just ask – sounds simple, but it feels like a mountain to me; while I cheered the restaurateur for saying no without flinching.

This is not an unusual situation.  Many business owners in the services industry would receive these kinds of requests at some point: “Hi! I would like a free xxx in exchange for a positive review”.

The question is: how do I react to this?  Which side of my inner conflicted part will win the debate?

On one hand, giving something for free because someone asked for it feels awkward to me.  My mind will automatically go into the mistrusting question: why are you trying to take advantage of me?

Almost automatically, I would switch to the positive thinking side: perhaps I would do with another positive review?

What happens in your mind, when someone, out of the blue, wants to negotiate your skills, whether you are a restaurateur or a web designer, for the promise of something as elusive as free publicity?


Deep down, you know there is no such thing as a free lunch.  The question is then, do you know your price, and are you willing to pay for it?


The first consideration is your reasons to reject such offer:  is that a question of principles for you?

You have priced your products and services at a certain level, there has been an investment in time, money, energy, hard work.

You will not squander these resources.

Good for you for setting your boundaries in your business.

The other question to ask yourself is: “this is only about money?”.

When we enter into an exchange of a product or service for a financial consideration, we tend not to question the underlying motive.  After all, it’s the monetary value that we set for our product, and it’s fungible, so we can use that same dollar to barter for a rent, pay a salary or for foods.

It’s a fair trade.

The question is then, are we too attached to the symbol of money? Would you react differently when it’s a barter of services?

I ask this question because I have seen this attitude many times.  As soon as money is not involved, people seem to relax a tad and somehow do not to feel the same level of obligation to deliver.  Interesting, right


The Year of Yes?


Now let’s examine why you would agree to give that freebie.

Big companies and smaller businesses alike, all offer freebies and discounts on their products on a regular basis.  It’s a classic marketing strategy that ends up a win/win for all.

It attracts more and new customers; creates buzz and momentum for the business.

For the client, it’s getting something they wanted and were hesitant to get: it’s now a better, sweeter deal for them.

Some might see in that service-for-review exchange a great opportunity to get the word out, to get more 5 stars ratings; a larger number of reviews means getting into the first page of some websites or of certain online retailers such as Amazon.

And if you are in that mindset, you are making an empowered choice for your business.  Another good for you!

But are you accepting out of fear of being badmouthed on social media for refusing the offer?

These requests could be triggering feelings of powerlessness; of not being able to control your environment and the impression of being ransomed, “your food for a mention on my Instagram, or else…!”

Yes, yes, another one of those thoughts that need to be tamed, and quickly.

And you can see it as yet another invitation to review and affirm your own values, your business, and to be clear about your own boundaries.

How far are you willing to contract with someone who might seem entitled; who has the power to make you question the quality of your services?

Giving something for free or receiving it, when money is not involved, can trigger a whole lot of hidden issues and beliefs we have about ourselves and about money.

Often times, we are still reproducing what we learned from our parents or our community.

In most western countries, it varies from hating to giving too much power to money.  In reality, money is just a piece of paper that enables us to acquire services or goods.

  • What are your beliefs around money? Do you believe it’s the “root of all evil”? or is it the worship of it that makes us lose sight of the bigger pictures?
  • And the other side of the coin question: How willing are you to ask for a freebie?