How to Respond to Requests for Free Work

WITH Ryan Koral


Have you ever had a friend or family member ask you for a big discount or to make a free video? If it hasn’t happened yet, it’s only a matter of time. As a giving person, it’s tough for me to turn them down. However, as a business owner, it’s really hard to do the work that I do for free and bad for my business in the long-run.

Key Takeaways

It’s okay to say no to any project, even if that means turning down family or friends. Your priority is running your business. Once its needs are met, you can decide how and when you truly want to give back.

You can turn down a request for discounts by saying you don’t have the time, or that you simply don’t do discounts. Adding value by providing more and going the extra mile will always be more rewarding than not charging enough for your work.

The Great Power of Video

Having met hundreds of people in this industry I know one thing to be true: we’ve got big hearts. We want to do good in the world by telling stories. Video is perhaps the most powerful medium for doing good through storytelling. I bet a lot of us don’t even charge what we should be because we’re so passionate about this work.

The Importance of ‘No’

When it’s your passion that also pays the bills, it’s hard to draw boundaries that prevent people from feeling awkward or hurt. But you can’t stay in business if you keep giving away your talents. There will still be times when it does make sense to do something pro bono. However, you need to be intentional about those projects that you choose to do for less.

Taking Care of Business So You Can Take Care of Others

In the end, it comes down to being able to pay your bills, your people, and yourself. Beyond that, you want your business to thrive. When those needs are taken care of, you can decide where, when, and how to give back. It shouldn’t be based on guilt or obligation. Instead, when you have all your business’ basic needs taken care of, you can truly give back in meaningful ways.

How do you give back while still taking care of your business?  Have you been asked to give away your work? Tell me how you responded in the comments below!

In this Episode

  • The true costs of not getting paid for your work [5:00]
  • How to respond when someone you know asks you to make a video for them [9:00]
  • Times when it might make sense to do free or discounted work [16:06]
  • Saying ‘no’ without guilt [21:12]
  • What happens when you add value to your work [23:33]


6:46“The medium that we have at our disposal is the very tool, probably the most influential powerful tools in the last century, to be able to create moving pictures that evoke emotion.”
17:34“The worst thing that you could say if I ask you for a discount is ‘no’. That’s fine. I can move along and I will do my best to not take offense at that.”
20:57“I want to be more open-handed. I want to be gentler with the people who approach me with those questions. But at the same time, I want to be wise.”
23:46“I would much rather add value than feel that we’re not valued enough.”



Ryan Koral

Ryan Koral is an entrepreneur, producer and business strategist from Tell Studios, a video production agency with a big heart for authentic stories that build brands and inspire action. He’s a husband (mostly happily for like 16+ years), has 3 kiddos, and has an annoying – but infectious – laugh.

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