Are you tired of working for free?

At the beginning of this year, I realized I had a problem.

Despite having one of the biggest travel blogs in the world, and living an exotic life experiencing amazing things like seeing orang-utans in Borneo, arriving to a resort by helicopter via the stunning Whitehaven Beach, and cruising to the Pacific Islands, I wasn’t earning much money.

I was doing okay, but I knew I should have been doing better considering what we had built with our travel blog.

But, I never really thought to focus on it considering I had the dream.

Did it matter that my income wasn’t that good?

I wasn’t sure, but I know I didn’t feel good. In retrospect, I told myself it didn’t matter because I was trying to justify why I was entrapped in that space of lack.

I’d been following the laws of attraction for years, and as my life will show, was exceptionally good at manifesting what I wanted in material form – the dream travel lifestyle, a campaign car, free products, and very little bills.

But, I had serious blockages when it came time to manifesting the moolah.

I was determined to expose and unplug them and so started the Money Project.

Designed to completely immerse myself into the law of attraction so I could stop the endless worrying about where the next dollar was coming from.

I hated the fear and self-loathing money seemed to give me. I just wanted to learn to let go and trust it was coming.

The advice that pushed me

I first went to Denise Duffield Thomas from Lucky Bitch as I heard she was a bit of a money manifesting whizz. I downloaded her free audio 7 blocks holding you back from true abundance.

I was pretty sure I’d probably had heard it all before, but I was desperate to find one thing that could help me.

Her first money block advice:

She even related it to herself. She was just like me – a master manifester of things, even a 6 month dream trip, yet the bank kept coming up empty.

I reacted instantly and had my justification ready as to why I was an exception to this block.

Denise just doesn’t understand how things work for me. If I follow her advice my business and lifestyle would be ruined.

My situation was different. This was business, which I’m sure Denise just didn’t understand.

See in my line of work, expenses are high. Covering my travel costs helps me to continue to produce content and help others travel more. If I stopped working for free it would mean my costs would sky rocket and I’d have to return to a settled life and job I detested. I just wasn’t earning enough to cover the costs.

Contra is the way the travel industry has always operated.

The destination flies in the journalists who then write stories about it in their publication. The problem being journalists get paid by their publication. I was the publication so no one was paying me. I was giving up a lot of my time in order to experience it and then write about it, yet I wasn’t making an income on top and it was draining us. It wasn’t a great win, but because of my money blocks I felt as if this was my only option, and because it was the way things were done I didn’t deserve being paid.

Why would destinations start paying me on top of the contra?

Because of my business, I’d also had a new campaign car given to me every six months. The way I saw it that was not your usual work for free. Besides, isn’t getting stuff for free a form of abundance and abundance is abundance right?

Isn’t a dollar saved, a dollar earned?

I decided that I was an exception to this rule and would find a way to work on my other blocks and let this one about bartering slide.

I refused to recognize that I had a few major money blocks:

I believed in lack. I believed I did not have enough money to cover my expenses so I had to give away my services. I also did not believe in my own value.

I thought and acted desperate and didn’t believe I could say no. There was no way the money that matched my true worth could flow through that slammed door.

Universal nudges to wake up

I continued to apply other strategies that worked with my Money Project, yet Denise’s advice to stop working for free kept niggling at me.

“Why can’t you have the dream AND the income you deserve? You want to improve your money abundance and to do that you HAVE to do something different.”

I had to walk through that fear that I would not be supported and I was not good enough.

I decided to test the waters with a simple toe dip.

I said no to small free offerings I knew I could live without, or I completely changed my conditions so what I was offering was a match for the value they were giving me. So if the accommodation was worth $300, they would only get promotion to this value, not the thousands I was giving away.

Some said no, but some said yes, and I was shocked. “How much have we been previously giving away and in the process devaluing ourselves?

Each new NO opened up space for what I really deserved to arrive. I began to believe in my own worth and I felt so much more empowered and free.

A change in belief always brings chaos

Change is never smooth sailing and soon the obstacles arrived.

Deals began to fall through. We were stuck in a place where we had no contra stuff coming in AND little income. We now had to pay for expenses running into the thousands and our car sponsorship deal ended.

We were screwed. If you’ve read this post sharing our secret, then you’ll understand why a chasm of fear now enveloped me.
I cursed myself for listening to Denise and going against what I knew to be best.

Freaking out, I contacted her for advice. I wanted to know if there would be a transition period as you moved from old world to new where everything would plummet, or lull, until the energy of the new momentum picked up.

Change and chaos tend to go hand in hand.

She replied:

There can be a transition period. You need to evaluate each barter to make sure it fits with your overall goals and you feel good about it. Look for ways to get a combination of barter and money, especially if your reach warrants it.

I’ve got a reach that extends into the millions so it definitely warranted it.

It was time to believe in my value and rethink and refine my approach.

I decided to hold steady and believe in myself more. Why would I go backwards to that life of lack? It certainly wasn’t helping me and if I wanted to grow then I had to stretch and get uncomfortable.

Inspirational quote about growth

Craig and I had to convince DMO’s (Destination Marketing Operators) and Tourism Boards to not only help cover some of our ground costs, but to also pay us a marketing fee for the marketing exposure we could offer.

We worked on our proposal until we could show them the value in hiring us. And as someone commented on our facebook page recently,  “I hope Tourism Australia are paying you well for the great job you do in promoting Australia,”

It’s obvious that we do a great job in marketing this country and deserve to be supported for it. (Although TA don’t much!)

Not only were we now getting our costs covered, but also receiving an income. I never would have refined and worked it so hard if it wasn’t for what I learned from Denise. I would have just excused it as being just the nature of my business to work for free.

Our money project results from removing this block

This is what else happened.

A great new car sponsor came through (it arrives in 2 weeks).

I started to get paid to speak at events, where previously I did it for free as I did not feel I was valuable enough. Now, I know I have a shit load of knowledge to share and that deserves being paid for.

I started making better decisions about all the available income streams and upped my prices. I suddenly noticed how I could make streams of income work for me, whereas previously I ignored them.

In the past 3 months alone I’ve earned double my previous annual income.

I can now see very clearly that the blockage came from me believing that it was okay to work for free. And I believed this because I did not think I was worthy enough to charge.

Not only am I now earning an income on par with the value I offer, I’m continuing to live my dream life, the opportunities opening up to us are amazing, but best of all, the value that I offer my community is so much more.

Now I can offer lots of tips to help people create more money and overcome the number one barrier they have to travelling more — Not enough money!

I feel happier, freer, more productive, more on purpose and the clarity and depth of the content I offer to help make a difference in their lives is so much more apparent.

Another important result of this experiment is that I now feel very safe and confident to pay my own way.

It kills your self-esteem when you think you can’t provide for yourself. I can’t tell you the weight that is lifted off my shoulder knowing that I can cover my bills and I don’t have to say yes to those things that don’t thrill me just to make ends meet.

It’s amazing how much more you can give when that stress and fear evaporates.

Why working for free doesn’t help you create more money?

  • It devalues yourself
  • It makes you feel bitter and resentful
  • You feel worthless
  • It makes you feel desperate and this sucks!
  • You feel defeated and angry
  • You feel unrecognised and as if you’re taken advantage of
  • It doesn’t give you the chance to prove your worth and build your credibility
  • You won’t grow and you’ll eventually fail

All of these emotions put you in an extremely low level of vibration.

Like attracts like, so unless you can launch yourself out of this cycle, you will continue to remain trapped in the bartering way of doing things.

It’s when we feel valuable and like we’re positively contributing that we’ll start attracting the money that meets our higher value and vibrations.

How are you valuing yourself?

Take some time to consider the value you place upon yourself.

Are addicted to bartering for free because you feel you have to? Are you like me and adamant that in your case its different and you have to do that free trade?

Take a small step forward today and reclaim a little of your self-worth. Just say no. Say no to that one thing that is dragging on your ability to feel good about yourself. Or just say yes – up your prices a little, even if it’s by $10. Say yes to what you deserve.

Take small steps until your confidence and self-worth grows.

A couple of points to consider

  • Be careful to put a price on yourself that IS aligned to the value you offer. If you over-inflate your worth, you’re just going to feel incredibly guilty and bad about yourself, which won’t help you attract any good stuff into your life! Sometimes it takes a bit of trial and error, so be okay with the fact you’ll make mistakes. Adjust accordingly.
  • Claim your worth, yet always slightly over-deliver. This helps you feel like you are contributing in the best way, it builds your reputation and allows you more room for growth in the future.
  • Sometimes working for free is a good thing and can help your business. We’ve grown so much and had so many opportunities because we have done work without payment. (btw I don’t see it as working for free, but a fair value exchange)
  • If you’re going to work for free, then ensure that what you get is equal to or greater in value to what you give.
  • When you’re starting out you will often have to give away your time for free in order to build and grow. This is okay. I liked to call this period the internship- every profession has it. Learn as much as you can, build your credibility and increase your value to the point where they need you more than you need them. Then you can set your price accordingly.
  • If you want to charge more, but don’t feel you offer the value to match, then put a lot of effort into increasing your value. Add in a few extra services or hours so you can create better packages, OR do a few courses or extra training to increase your credentials.

[newsletter title=”Tired of the money struggle?” description=”Sign up for our free training on how to move from struggle to abundance” type=”money”]

Are you stuck in a bartering position that is making you feel undervalued? Or are you confident in asking for what your worth? What are some of your tips AND if you have a win or AHA moment as a result of reading this I’d love for you to share it below.

46 thoughts on “Are you tired of working for free?”

  1. Hi Caz! Thank you so much for sharing your story! We are in the same boat at the moment. Not reaching millions but definitely enough to warrant payment rather than doing things for free! So thank you again, this is so helpful for us. e + c

  2. Awesome Caz, I love this. This is something I have been struggling with over the past few months in New Zealand. Freebies don’t cut it and honestly aren’t even worth some of the work that is involved. I needed to hear this, its all about valuing yourself and the work that you do

    1. Yep. We got to the stage where we were like this free stuff is way too much work. I realized it wasn’t giving me much more than exhaustion and it was taking away the time I could put into income producing activities – once I believed that I had the ability to make money, it made sense to me that the free stuff was no longer a smart move.

      So basically, it’s if I can’t make money in some way from the destination related stuff then I just can’t do it. I need to put that time into other things that will make me money. You’re definitely at the place where your reach warrants it, you just have to be okay with saying no and maybe missing out on some things.

    1. Thanks so much Denise! You definitely know your stuff! I’m so glad you hit that nerve and forced me to look deeper at my own issues and the limitations they were placing on me.

  3. Excellent tips Caz! The travel industry is one of those odd areas in that services are provided instead of payment. And I understand the issue of not wanting to sway a review but as more & more writers are independent with significant reach and influence, I believe that many travel orgs and DMO’s will need to rethink how they work with travel writers.

    ps. And you can let Tourism Australia know that Australia has moved way up on our travel destinations because of you and Craig 🙂

    1. It definitely has to change and I am seeing a lot of positive steps forward. I think they are starting to see they’re not swaying the point of view, and if it’s done it the right way, this wouldn’t be a problem, but they have to compensate for the blogger or influencers time. There is no way a business can sustain itself by continuing to go on trips to promote a destination and not receive an income and because they are busy on the trips they don’t have the time to put into the income producing activities.

      It’s so so different to traditional media, who are always covered by the publishing house, so they’re free to relax and enjoy the champagne and views!!

      I will definitely let Tourism Australia know 😉

  4. Ah! You and Craig are awesome! I’m glad you started to see how awesome you both are. You guys totally deserve everything. Thanks for this post as it serves as a fair warning to the rest of us trying to follow your footsteps. My “feet” are significantly smaller than yours right now, but I’m glad to have you guys as a guide. Thanks a lot for this post for my future and to let us know you guys are kicking more ass AND getting PPAIIIDDD. 🙂

    1. I truly believe that if I can do it, so can you!!
      The way is being paved by a lot of travel bloggers at the moment working hard to change things. It only helps everyone. It’s quite exciting to see.

  5. I’m so glad you realized your worth — and then stuck to your guns. I’ve been going through a similar process, saying NO to opportunities because I didn’t feel valued enough, and making steps towards proving that I offer a valuable marketing solution. So far, it’s starting to pay off!

    1. Yes! Big wins! It’s so hard, but as you said keep moving forward and sticking to your value and it will all come together for you.

  6. I’ve read a fair bit from the ‘abundance’ mindset, and while I continue to approach it with some skepticism, there’s something to be said about standing firm for your fair rates and not simply accepting what someone throws at you. Clients will self-select like that.

    1. I’ll have a post sharing some great books I’ve read recently which might help to relieve some of the scepticism. They’ve helped make it a little clearer for me and a bit easier.

  7. Very interesting post. We have not yet started charging for our services, because like you I feel the contra stuff always felt like a fair exchange. But there has been a huge shift in our reach and exposure and I never thought to look at the value. Still not sure I can push over that barrier, but I’m certainly contemplating it, thanks.

    1. DEfinitely start to think it over more. And it does come down to what you think is a fair exchange. There is a lot that is. We still get things that we do just on contra, but I assess it very carefully.
      It has to be something I really wanted to do, something I think would be good for the readers, it has to have a certain value amount, and if it ties in with my bigger overall goals, and I feel it will help me grow to a higher level in some way, then I’ll say yes.
      I’ll always try to see how I can make money from the trip in some way. So if I can write a freelance article that I can get paid for, I’ll do it. Or if I’m going to be in the area for a paid speaking gig, then I’ll consider it.

      So there are lots of different ways you can approach the contra stuff and work it so it best benefits you.

  8. What a post! I needed this. I have done a lot of free stuff in the beginning of my blogging career. Now i’m going to complete two years as a travel blogger. Today, I believe I have to market myself in a certain way. I have to pick and choose. Although I am not making much money through my blog, I have said NO to money a few times, which was tough! But I guess, if you look at long term benefit (success), you have to say no. The temporary ‘no’ that you say takes you places.

  9. I’ve just started freelancing full-time (although I’ve been travel writing for nearly two years now) and I have to say that being willing to stand up for your own value is so difficult. Especially as there are so many people with this weird idea that they should get things for free, because just the notion of working with them is worth the money.
    Sorry, but nobody is that good to work for!
    Congratulations on being able to get your money making, and your value, exactly how you want it to be. I’d like to be there myself and I feel good seeing bloggers get what they’re worth.
    Good luck on the rest of your trip!

    1. Thanks Oceana! It is really hard, and I think its good for most people to start doing it gently. Small little wins so then you build your confidence and can stand your ground a little firmer. All growth starts with a teeny step!

  10. Awesome post Caz. I know in the past I’ve read many articles about attracting abundance but only these days, do I feel like I’m understanding the perspective that needs to occur before you can do that, ..and which you hit upon. Basically, you have to be fed up enough to take the chance and see your efforts as valuable. There will still be obstacles.

    Recently, I started in that direction and wrote/am selling my first travel survival eguide and much of it is based off some posts I wrote and additional information, etc…. One reader mentioned I should add additional information she just discovered ..into my post. I said I already know about it and it’s in my eguide. She said I have a “responsibility to first-time travelers to share that idea on my post” and that there are many other ideas I could put in my eguide in its place. (Note: She could’ve just added it on my post as a Comment, but even that’s too much currency to give me apparently). I took hours to cool down before responding to that one. Sometimes, even your readers don’t want to value your worth.

    1. I know. The obstacles keep coming!!!

      Yes some readers can be like that. They really do think you are writing only for them so can get funny with you when you don’t stick to their rules. I have a little saying that helps me let them go,
      “Don’t let people rent space in your head” That reminds me to just kick them on out!

  11. I love this post. Thank you, it’s what I needed to read.
    You are doing amazing things and deserve to be remunerated for it. Well done for turning things around, and thanks for referring us to Denise.

  12. I didnt know how much to charge for coaching and I had a coach give me a number at first I thought that no one will pay that for my services. My mind has shifted. I realize through putting together my program and looking at my creditenitals that I am worth this price because of my coaching skills and knowledge and I have value on myself and I realize I dont have to barter to get someone to coach. I just have to get my program information created and put together and market myself. I love you covering this and I will also listen to the money bitch. I know my mindset is changing and will continue to do so with everything step and action that I take.

  13. Nice post Cez.. I admire your social media achievements and think you should be charging for speaking at conferences about how you guys built and manage that. Everywhere I look it is ytravel blog.. I guess a few VA’s must have something to do with it!?

    When I started out freelancing I was doing 1000 word articles for $30 which were being published on a popular blog generating between 2-4k likes and shares. When I wrote for my own site, nothing of the sorts.

    Know your worth!

  14. Hey Caz
    You know, when I think of how much you’ve grown since those days when we first met at WWW events a huge smile spreads across my face. You guys deserve all the good that will continue to flow to you and there are millions, like us, who appreciate you sharing your journey. We’re all on one after all!
    As I mentioned to you recently, John and I are also going through a refresher of law of attraction and abundance study and application and smashing limiting beliefs is the gratifying task at the moment! The problem is, we don’t always realise that we have a particular limiting belief – and I’m damn sure I wouldn’t have realised I have this one about working for free and not realising my worth if you hadn’t shared it with us!!! Now we can cracking at smashing this one out of the park and letting more abundance in – woohooo!!!
    Big hugs and prosperity energy from us xxxx

  15. I love this, thank you. At the moment I am in the “internship” phase but hopefully with the knowledge I’ve just gained from you I’ll be able to price myself appropriately when I am at the stage where I can start talking numbers.

  16. Áhh, this resonates with me. I’m in the sewing business, which is a hard way to earn a buck, esp on a country where min wage is $17/hr. Thanks for this.

  17. I am so happy for you that you are doing so well.


    It is easy to feel that we are not good enough and don’t bring any value, I do feel that way sometimes..often.

    But look at all this hard work you have done to build this fantastic website. You should be proud and yes you should be paid for the advertisement you offer to companies.
    I mean.. offering you a 300$ room for free advertisement seen by thousands of people…. They are the big winners and it is hardly a win-win situation.

    You have built an amazing platform and you should be rewarded for it.

    I believe in living a simple life but even when living a simple life, you still need to pay for food and a shelter. Every penny counts and you did a hard-work to get it.

    Cheers from a fellow French globetrotter <3

    Myriam @OffToWanderland

  18. So well timed that I read this post just as some work had come in that I’d done previously for what I now consider to be too low a price. It has inspired me and I realise that I do this a lot, too. We don’t want to accept how influential we can be as bloggers and how valuable that can be to brands, we undervalue ourselves a lot. Sometimes I quote a price for work before I’ve started and then it ends up being twice as much work than I’d realised. In future, I need to be able to say that to the person who hired me and ask for more in order to put a real value to the time I put in.
    Keep up the good work, looking forward to seeing how you develop more 🙂

    1. No. I think volunteering is different. You have the intention to do work specifically to serve and help others less fortunate. I think it sends out a lot of positive energy which only gets returned

  19. Im new to your post, and i must say thank you. I want to travel more with the kids and free up finances, so your blog is right on point for me and my family thank you again!

  20. Margi O'Connell

    Thank you for sharing your journey to abundance thinking. It is a timely refresher. I used to have an equipment hire business and also worked for many years as a consultant. I set my price aligned with it’s market value and then had a sliding scale. I would say ‘I charge $xx for that and $xx for people on pensions and benefits. If there is a learning or contra in it I’m happy to negotiate and I’ve been known to do it for a prayer.’ I have been involved in my local economy (LETS) for about 30 years where the value of the exchange is negotiated but we generally use the local credits when trading with people on low income.
    Right now I am manifesting a very special trip. I want to support a good outcome at the UN Climate Conference in Paris in December. (Turning 65 in Paris is also an attraction). While there I want to explore the reach of the sharing economy in Eastern Europe. I’ve been on a carer’s pension for a few years now so my reserves are low and coming across your shared journey in abundance thinking is the sort of serendipitous syncreticity that lets me know I am in the flow. Thank you and all power to your journey.

    1. That’s awesome Margi! I’m so glad the planets aligned. All the best with your Paris manifestation. My daughter is working on manifesting the same thing!

  21. Very inspiring, I have done also some free jobs, and it has been kinda experience that I didn’t deserve. So, choose to move on. I believe I will get better option than this.

  22. I do my travel blog mostly just for fun but I occasionally get requests from bloggers who want to get their story and link on my site, or from media companies trying to do sponsored articles for their clients.

    For guest bloggers who are strangers coming to pitch their story, I’ve refined what I will accept. If they haven’t bothered to take the time to understand the spirit of my blog and the types of stories I publish, I delete their email. (I used to write back and direct them to my guest blogger guidelines, but that’s a waste of time I could be spending on my passions.)

    For the sponsored articles, I stick to my stated price, even when they try to play on my emotions to get me to lower it. If I lose the deal, so be it.

    It took me a number of years to become firm in both these areas and I made some messes while I was learning. But now it feels like the right way to be. This is the kind of resolve and feelings of worthiness I’m working on getting in other areas of my life.

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