I have two modes of working with people: full price or free. I try not to do anything in the middle, as it gets too messy.
If whatever I’m doing for someone is full price, they get to state their terms and I determine a price, which I’m pretty practiced at. If they agree to the price and I agree to the terms, we’re in business! They generally get to drive as much as they’re comfortable and I’m happy to be of service—and generally less opinionated—because I feel well-compensated.
If whatever I’m doing for someone is free, the dynamic changes. They probably want it more, so their work is basically doing it my way. We’re on my schedule. I decide how much I want to do. They get what they get, and they don’t get upset. If they don’t like it, they can pay full price.
This advice has no doubt saved me from years of finding myself doing the wrong kind of work, and I wish I had started this practice years earlier.
Next time someone wants to work with you, start by deciding whether it should be full price or free.
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