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.

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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.

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