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To pay or not to pay?

I recently had a discussion with a potential client who wanted me to do a piece of work… for free.
This person is a professional in the same field as I am and I was taken aback by his assumption that I would be willing to work for free.
As a person who is self-employed I value my work, my time and my knowledge and if a customer wants my services it follows that they would be willing to pay for my services. Similarly I expect to pay for good quality services.

Weighing up the pros and cons, I have considered the following and I wonder what your thoughts are?

By demanding payment I maintain my integrity and demonstrate that my services have worth
The client recognises that I run a serious business
I possibly gain the work from them and an opportunity to market my business to that audience
I sort the wheat from the shaft; I know which clients are serious about working with me

I miss out on the opportunity to work for free and market my business to new audiences

Have you faced a similar dilemma and decided to turn down the ‘opportunity’ to work for free? As I write this I actually realise that opportunities to work for free abound… I feel reassured in the decision I made to charge the client (although I await news of whether they will proceed).

What are your thoughts? If you’ve been in a similar position before how did you deal it and what was the outcome?

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