Should freelancers work for free?
Another post from a new blogger this week…this one is from Blake Poutra on the question of whether (and when) it is appropriate, even beneficial sometimes, for freelancers to work for free. What do you think?
One of the most widely accepted tenets of the work world is that the person working should be paid for their service. This is certainly no exception in the world of design. Design work is time consuming, labor intensive, and requires creativity and originality, all of which definitely deserve fair compensation. Nevertheless, this article will show readers why working for free as a freelance designer isn’t always as bad of an idea as it might seem.
I’m sure all of our inboxes are flooded with requests to do free design work in exchange for publicity or exposure….and in most cases it’s coming from someone who can’t provide either. This is the opposite of what I am referring to when I say work for free. The only thing free about that situation is the freeloaders who are trying to steal your work or devalue it. With that disclaimer aside, let’s dig into what I am talking about.
Great for Exposure There are actually several possible reasons why a designer might choose to work for free. One of the most common reasons is that it can be a great way to boost exposure and name recognition. This is especially true if you are a new designer just starting out in the field. Naturally, new designers deserve fair payment for their time and labor just like anyone else; however, design work can often be expensive and potential employers may feel reluctant to shell out significant sums of money to newbies. In this case you can kill two birds with one stone by gaining experience as well as a new client. Consider this concept a loss leader of sorts.
One of the best ways to get this valuable exposure is to offer to work on a small project for a potential company or client for free. It’s an offer which is very difficult to turn down by the prospective client since they have nothing to lose and it shows your commitment and willingness for hard work. It’s also an ideal way for the potential client to see what you’re capable of. Even though the client doesn’t owe you anything, if you demonstrate quality work and a professional attitude there’s a good chance they’ll call you on the next paying gig.