work for free

In May 2014, I saw a post on Twitter about a UK Podcasters conference coming soon.

As a Podcaster myself, I excitedly clicked on the link to find more details.


I was even more excited to find out that the conference would be taking place in Birmingham, which is only a 30-40 minute drive from my house.

Instantly I thought to myself, I have to get involved.

There was no way the first ever Podcast conference in Europe could take place so close to home, and I’m not involved.

Plus, I’m the type of person who will go to an event, and identify all the gaps in the planning, organisation and management of the event.


I’ll sit there and think to myself or say to whoever is around me;

“They should have got someone to do that”

“They should of arranged for that to be done”

“Someone needs to man the PA system”

“The speakers are positioned to close to the Mic”

and so on.

I know, I’m a bit sad like that, but with a background in event planning, sound engineering and also public speaking, I really can’t help myself.

So, what I now do is where there is opportunity, I just offer to help out.


As I read through the conference information on the website, I saw a link saying, Speaker Application.

The organisers where looking for people to deliver talks and workshops on the day.

I quickly, put a few ideas down in Evernote and came up with an outline for a workshop I could deliver.

I completed the application form and clicked submit.

A few days later I received the following email;




Although I was a bit disappointed, I noticed that the door was not completely closed, so I followed up with this email;




After a few emails back and forth, the organisers made it clear that they would appreciate any help I could offer, however, they could not offer me any payment.

From their perspective, I can understand why they made this explicitly clear from the beginning, and I wanted to make it clear to them that I was not looking for any payment, I just want to be involved.


The organisers, Izabela and Mike Russell where a very humble and hospitable couple and they generously offered me a free pass to attend the conference in return for me helping out on the day.

This was more than payment, as I was willing to pay to attend, and was actually planning to buy a ticket anyway.


I was more than grateful!!


So, We arranged a Skype chat to discuss what needed to be done, and how I could contribute.
The conference was a fantastic event.


There were about 80 delegate attend, all of whom are currently Podcasting or in the process of setting up a podcast.

It was a very friendly, welcoming and talkative community. (Imagine and room full of podcast hosts!!)


You can find out more about the the conference and the UK podcaster community here:


So, why am I telling you all this?

During the conference I was reminded of the value of volunteering.

My route into youth work was through volunteering about 18 years ago, and if you’ve heard my story, you will know that this opened up multiple doors for me, and I ended up working through the service, and eventually running it.

And here I am now, 18 years later, still volunteering and still reaping massive benefits from doing so.

We are never to far in our journey or to high up the ladder to volunteer.

Let me share with you 7 benefit I received from volunteering at this event.



1. Add Value

I never knew the size or scale of the team organising the podcasters conference. For all I knew, it could have been a large company putting this thing together. I had no idea that it was actually just a married couple who had a vision and a passion to serve the podcasting community.

What I did know is that I had something to offer of value, and rather than sit down at the event and critique it, I wanted to be proactive and offer my services.

The organisers really appreciated and valued my services.




2. Share your skills and develop new ones

We all have skills, knowledge and experiences that we can share with others, and sometimes we actually take them for granted or think that our skills are not as valuable to others as they are.

You bring something unique to the team that nobody else can. Your approach or method may be very different to the group or person you’re supporting and they can benefit from having you on board.

You will also have the opportunity to pick up and learn new skills during the process.



3. Meet new people

At the Podcasters conference, one of my first tasks was to help out on the registration desk.

This meant that I had the opportunity to meet EVERYONE that was attending the conference.

There where people from all over the UK, Europe and aboard. Some of whom where established in the business and other just starting out, but all of them where very welcoming and friendly.

Not only did I get to meet them, but they got to meet me, and this was a great inroad for networking later on in the day.



4. Make new connections

Following on from the point above, meeting new people is one step, but making a connection is the next, and I surely had a great opportunity to make new connections at the conference.

I met people who took a real interest in my work with young people, and others who gave met contacts to people they new who could be a potential business lead.

I met people who offer services that I could benefit from and others whom I was able to introduce to someone else I met during the day who would benefit from there service.

I actually went out of my way to pitch someone else’s services to one person I met and than left the 2 of them chatting away. Who knows what will come from that.

All round, the connection that were made where very valuable and I look forward to see what comes to fruition.



5. Raise your profile

By volunteering at the conference, I had an opportunity to raise the profile of myself and my service as I had greater access to people and felt that I was better positioned to connect with them.

I gave out more business cards at the conference than I have ever given out out any other one day event.

Although many of the people are not directly in my core business sector, who knows who they know and could refer business my way.

Also, the online community that has developed is proving to be very valuable, in terms of promoting each others Podcasts, which in turn, promotes your services, which raises the profile of the business.



 6. Reciprocity

Reciprocity is simply the practice of exchanging things with others for mutual benefit. “You do for me, I’ll do for you”.
From a young age, we are all familiar with the saying “a favour for a favour”, therefore, a small favour can produce a sense of obligation to return that favour.

Because there is a sense of future obligation reciprocity also helps to build and develop relationships with people.

When you volunteer to help someone out, you are giving freely of your time, energy, skills and resources. I guarantee you at some point they will say to you, “Let me know if I can do anything to help you out.” And when they do, you should not be afraid to respond, “Well actually, there is one thing…”


 7. Freebies

Again, this comes off the back of Reciprocity. You will find that the law of sowing and reaping, just like the law of gravity, is very much at work. It is impossible to sow and not reap.

If you give to others, I guarantee, you will eventually receive something yourself. This is not to say that we only give just to simply receive back, but it is a law that can be proven over and over agin.

On top of gaining free access to the conference (Which would have cost me £60 if I had bought a ticket), while there, I happened to sit next to this guy during one of the sessions. We got talking and he told me that he had recently wrote a book. He reached into his bag and placed a copy into my hand.

We spoke about his work and when the conversation was about to close I handed him the book back. He looked at me and said “No, that’s for you, you can keep it.” Needless to say, I was very grateful.

So, regardless of your current position or status, I encourage you to seek out opportunities to volunteer your time.

Not only will you be helping someone out, but you will also benefit greatly from the experience.


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