Guest Post by Jennifer Martin - Asking Someone If You Can Work For Free

From Jia - Jennifer Martin owns Martin Correspondence; an online editing, review, and writing service.  She has been helping me to edit my post for my blog, minimizing grammatical and expression glitches. Through our partnership, I found Jennifer fast, responsible and great to work with. If you are a blogger, entrepreneur or author who needs editing service, you can learn more about her at    

I’ve been reading Jia’s 100 Days of Rejection since his Olympic Ring of Donuts went viral due to Jackie’s hard work, which she ended up giving for free.  I am sure if Jia ever craves doughnuts again, he will go back to Krispy Kreme and ask for Jackie.

It’s also fun watching Jia offer his own services for free many times in the course of his 100 Days of Rejection.  Maybe someone he asked to help will come ask for his services again, just like he will probably ask for Jackie’s help with doughnuts again?  At times offering free work can lead to a real partnership.

The first step is finding a person, company, or group with whom you want to work.  Once I read a Time magazine article about a group working to help rebuild and renew New Orleans where I was moving.  I loved their character and work.  On a whim, I took step two and made a request.  I emailed them to ask if they wanted help in exchange for room and board.  They said yes and let me name a monthly salary for myself.  The work was an amazing experience and it never would have happened if I hadn’t found a great group and simply asked.  This time has given me the courage to make big asks several other times, even though I am as scared of rejection as anyone (and have been rejected as often as everyone too).

More recently, I found Jia’s blog and loved his stories.  I had noticed his teaching personality and passion to share what he has learned from his own experiences with others.  Jia’s 100 Days of Rejection was a project I wanted to work with, so I offered my editing services for free, along with five edited posts along with my request.  He said yes!

Third, if accepted - build the partnership.  After offering your services for free, you can’t slack off.  You need to deliver on your offer and ideally over-deliver.  If you do create a true business partnership that is no longer free, keep up the hard work.  As many business schools teach, undersell and over-deliver.  Since Jia is still writing 100 Days of Rejection posts, I know we have 11 more blog articles to work on together.

Point Three-B (in case they reject you) is to handle it with grace, thank the rejector and move on to the next request.  You never know who will remember you further down the road and either recommend your services to someone else or call you back later.  Even if they never do, it is always important to… “…in everything, do to others what you would have them do to you,” (Matthew 7:12a).  Imagine if roles were reversed and you had to reject someone’s free offer, wouldn’t you rather they thanked you politely for considering the request and then moved on graciously?

So in summary, I learned:

  1. Find people, organizations, and groups with whom you want to work.
  2. Reject your own fear, and make the request.

3.a. If accepted, work hard to undersell and over-deliver.

3.b. If rejected, say thank you and move on graciously.

Have you found an organization you’d love to partner with and could even start with volunteering or some free work?  Have you ever made a big ask for yourself?  Were you rejected or accepted?