Working for free

There was a time and place to work for free when I was just starting out as a writer. I would write articles just to get published and to build my portfolio so that I had something to show prospective clients and/or employers.  That time has passed a long long time ago. However, there are occasionally still a few people who seem to think that it is just fine and dandy to request free work because I will be able to add it to my portfolio, they will refer other people to me, and/or when they get rich and successful, they will reward me from their profits.  Thanks but no thanks.

I had to laugh when I read these articles about Web Designers who apparently get the same baloney from cheap folks who think that they are entitled to something for nuthin. Love some of their responses.

These articles could have been written by and/or for writers…


“The old story

You’ve heard many reasons a client has for demanding free work.

“There will be plenty of money LATER!”

“We’ll consider you our ‘in-house’ designer once business gets going.”

“I have rich friends who’ll see your work and hire you for big bucks!”

“This is a great opportunity for you” (they never say why).

“You can put this in your portfolio!”

“…I do wholeheartedly enjoy lending a helping hand whenever I can. But I also have bills to pay. I sincerely believe this entitlement syndrome is, in some sense, a general oblivion to the graphic design industry. That since it “only” involves time and not always a tangible product that, it should come at minimal or no cost because they assume I have “free time” in which I’ll happily do this favor for them.

“…When someone busts out the ‘good for your portfolio, or will get you paid work,’ I usually tell them that my portfolio is pretty full of paid-for jobs. If they are so sure that I will get other work, perhaps they can bring in 5 new pay jobs for me and I will give them a commission for one free job of a value equal to the most expensive one they referred.”

“…When you believe there’s no way out of doing it for them, ask them to do some free work for you, too. I had “new friend” ask for a huge project for free and I smiled and replied I would be happy to do it. Then I said, “you know, I was going to ask if you could handle some legal matters for me (she was a lawyer). She said she was too busy. I responded that I understood and told her I would have the project done in three or four months. She couldn’t wait that long and dropped the request.

“…If I can give some good parting advice when I come to free work:

Say “no” when it comes to doing work for a business.

Tell your friends, no problem” but you need time to fit it around your business schedule.

Cover your hard costs or the free job ends up costing you time AND money.


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