When you are what you sell — as most services are — you often find yourself being asked to help out. Which is totally cool — I really don’t have the financial wherewithal to make big donations to my favorite charities or my friends’ projects, but I can help out, applying my expertise in PR/marketing and social media.
When I was younger, I was frequently a cog in the machinery of moving parties. A friend is moving into a new apartment, or even their first house, and to save money, they rent a truck, call up everyone they knew, and offer pizza and beer in exchange for a lost Saturday. Sometimes free lunch was a good deal; other times, not so much. (Once my now husband and I were on a moving party that employed more than a dozen people and still wasn’t enough. I knew we were in way over our heads when I realized I was carrying out to the waiting 18-wheeler a box labeled Rock Collection, UK, 1980. And 16 similar boxes awaited me in the cellar. Each labeled with a place and date. Yes, I was moving rocks.)
Last night, the group I was helping paid me in pizza (even got sent home with the leftovers.) Many years ago, my payment for work for a winery association was a couple of cases of plonk. I used most of it for cooking. I have a deal worked out where I trade my marketing and PR services for a yearly family vacation. I frequently work for coffee. It works in reverse too. I “pay” for my technical support with marketing services and introductions. I am so happy when I can introduce my stellar web designer/business partner to others who would benefit from his services, and who actually can pay him for the good work he does. (Although I do occasionally pay him in baked goods too.)
But often I work for the knowledge I acquire. Last night I was able to dredge up from the depths of my memory some arcane knowledge of silent auctions that proved useful to the team I was working with — knowledge I acquired on other unpaid gigs. I reap psychic benefits from helping out good causes. My friends feel good when they can make something happen for their causes. I meet all kinds of fantastic people and I learn about a wide variety of things.
Now, if I could just figure out how to turn pizza into a mortgage. What do you get from your unpaid or “pizza work”?