You are working for free when you blog or create a newsletter or a resource website as I do or you can speak at conferences for free and even for organizations for free. This way you get to build relationships and you get to build trust and get to establish a reputation. Now slowly you can start to charge - as Steve explains - as the work load increases - you can start to raise your fee and to throttle back the demand to what you can deliver.
I see so many people start out as independents who do not understand this and quickly end up returning to corporate life. I have one friend however, who started off by working as an executive coach for free - it was the only way to establish himself and he now earns an annual six figure sum from that part of his work alone. As Steve says:
One of the best ways to show people the value of your work is to share it with them for free. This minimizes other people’s risk and makes it easier for them to receive your value. In this manner you can start sharing your value immediately.Thinking about it - I have done it for years. In my very first job in my early twenties - I was a CAD engineer/programmer in the Space Division of British Aerospace. My boss always had more requests for new projects than he could handle. I used to make sure I got to know what those projects were. The ones that interested and excited me I offered to work on in my own time!! I got to do the stuff I loved and many of those projects developed into funded projects. It also helped establish my reputation for doing leading edge work.