The “Help Someone for Free” Experiment: Results & Observations

Results and Observations

Greetings from the road to Anchorage, Alaska—or actually the sky, since it’s a long drive to Anchorage for most of us.

Last week we had a real-time experiment where I invited readers to offer something for free. We received hundreds of submissions, many of them in the comments thread of the original post and many others through independent blog posts.

Today I’ll share a few highlights from the original post, as well as a couple of observations on the process.

First, the Highlights

On the original thread you can find people offering all kinds of services. Some people even included their email addresses or phone numbers, and several people noted that they could help more than one person depending on demand.

Here are a few highlights –>

Free Hats (10,000 of them…) from Robyn:

I knit hats and give them away. Mostly I give them to folks around my area who are in need (homeless vets, students in at-risk areas, etc). I don’t ask anything in return for these hats, and most folks don’t even know who the hats came from.

Free 20-Minute Law School Consultation from Peg

I run a business called The Personal Statement School where I help people kick ass on their law school applications. If you’re reading this and are interested in going to law school, please email me and I will give you a free 20-minute phone consult to answer any questions you have about applying to law school. No question is too big or too small.

Free Help for 10 People Setting Up Quickbooks from Becky

I”m a freelance bookkeeper specializing in QuickBooks. Do you need QB set up for your business? I’ll help 10 people get it set up for free! (I usually charge $180 for this.) I can do it remotely very easily for any small company!

Free Dinner in South Carolina (you never know) from Jordy

Hi, I can offer someone free dinner if they are ever in Charleston, South Carolina. I feel like that is a pretty good deal considering we have some of the best restaurants in the world.

Free Floral Arrangements for Brides from Vicki

Bridesmade Blooms is a downloadable video/PDF package. It includes detailed instructions and checklists for doing all your wedding flowers. Over 2 1/2 hours of video. You’ll feel super-confident after you watch these… ready to save money & take on the floral-design world! Use code: socialexperiment to redeem.

Free Postcard from Afghanistan (first 5 people) sent by Ryan

I can offer the first five people who email me at ryanmcrae @ a postcard from Afghanistan (where I work for the next 36 days) and if you ask me a marketing question (and you describe your business) I’ll give you a couple of ideas as best I can.

Free Trombone Lesson from Tony

I am a professional musician (trombonist), so I can offer a free one hour lesson on trombone (or a lesson on how to practice effectively on ANY instrument) in person or on Skype.

Free Ticket to WDS 2013 ($500 value!) from Amber

I love everything about the World Domination Summit, and I eagerly got up early to buy a ticket this year. But… now my sister has chosen *the same weekend* to get married. Yes, I even asked her if she could do it the following weekend, but apparently the reception hotel was booked then.

I see other people are reselling their tickets and I just don’t feel right about that. If I could be there, I would! Since I can’t, the $500 ticket is someone else’s for the asking. I figure it will be a gift to someone here, and a gift to my sister as well.

[Note: Amber doesn’t have a website. If you’d like the ticket, comment in the original thread and she’ll select someone. In the spirit of her generosity, we’ll also waive the usual $50 transfer fee.]

Free Sports Bra to 10 Women from Carolina

To the first ten girls who contact me, I’ll give away a MI-BRA (a sports bra with a pocket for an iPod or iPhone). Shoot me an email to: carolina.baker @ with your info.

Free “Find More Money” Template from Rodney

I love helping my clients connect with their passions and find new sources of income, often hidden in plain sight. It’s a service I regularly charge for, but the first 10 proactive people who leave a comment to this blog post will receive it free. I will gift you a strategy session to help you connect with your passion and find additional sources of income based on your expertise gratis.

Free Underwater Wallpaper Images from Elijah

I’m a photographer and designer currently challenging myself to do six small, entrepreneurial side projects over the next six months, and in my most recent post I’m giving away a digital set of underwater photographs intended for wallpaper. The other underwater sets are a bargain at $1 (or more if you choose to give a bit extra), and half the proceeds go to to help protect sharks and mantas from destructive practices like finning.

And Now, a Couple of Observations

In the original post I tried to explain the kinds of things we were looking for:

“So here’s how it works. Figure out something you’d like to give away for free. Do you have a skill you’d like to offer—something you can help someone with?

Is there something of value that you no longer want, but someone else could put it to good use?

Is there something you sell that you can give away to a few people, or to everyone on a certain day?

If you sometimes charge money for this free thing, that’s OK—nothing wrong with making money! Many people in our community are self-employed. I’m gearing up for my own overdue product launch in a couple of weeks.

But this is all about helping someone for free. So for this experiment, make sure you really offer it with no strings attached.”

However, maybe I wasn’t clear enough, which leads to the first observation: free means free! Free doesn’t mean self-promotional!

“I’ve got something for sale, but it’s a good deal” isn’t free.

“Please read my blog” is a request, not an offer.

“Last year I did something for free” is great … but that’s not the point.

If I did a bad job in the description, I apologize! The good news is, even if I screwed up the experiment by not being specific enough, it’s not too late to help someone for free.

Rumor has it you can even do so without posting a comment.


Thanks to all who participated! If you’re looking for free dinner in South Carolina, a free trombone lesson, or many other things, you can check out the original comment thread and follow-up with those making the offers. I’ll also keep that thread open for new comments for a few more days.

And now, I’m off to Anchorage! For the 0.000001% of people who happen to read AONC from Alaska, I’ll be at the Anchorage Aviation Museum tonight at 6:30pm.

Everyone else, thanks for reading AONC from all corners of the earth. You’re all amazing and I look forward to seeing you somewhere.

– Chris


P.S. Waiting is uncomfortable and unpleasant. Even if there’s a chance that the news you’re waiting on could be bad, you’d much rather know for sure. But for now, you wait.

Image: Atibens

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