Almost never, of course.

This is, after all, our living.

But when you are deep into a courtship of a new client, someone with work and money, and you’ve shared ideas and your stars seemed aligned, but you need a little something to inch the ball over the goal line.

You need to tip the client off the fence.

(And this is all your idea, by the way. You must make the suggestion, not them. We have to maintain the upper hand here.)

You say:

“I’m thinking this project is a good fit all around. Why don’t I just take a piece of the first section and handle it the way we’ve been talking? Just as an example? There won’t be any fee involved. Would that be helpful to you?”

Or:

“If you think we might be a good fit, why not try this: I’ll be happy to do the first part of the XXX we talked about. Like a trial run. If it looks good to you, then we’ll go ahead and finish. If not, that’s okay, too. There won’t be any fee involved at all.”

Or:

“I’ve been telling you what a genius I am all this time. Why not call me on it. Let me tackle a small piece for you, and you decide. If it’s not wonderful, I won’t even bill you. Which, as anyone will tell you, is utterly unlike me at all.”

Oh, and whether you end up charging for the ‘dry run’ or not, send an invoice anyway. Put a price on it. Then give it a courtesy discount to zero.

Just so they get used to seeing an invoice come flying back every time you deliver work.

This is, after all, our living.

- – -

Oh, yes. Of course. When a friend needs a little writing, editing, designing, coding favor. We do it. In exchange for a few beers or a pizza. Not for money. That never works.