Don't put free work beneath youJune 19, 2019
After I collected my very first paycheck as a freelancing web developer, I made a promise to myself that I would never work for free ever again. Months would pass until I was able to collect my next paycheck.
In between those days of not getting paid, my drive to become a decent web developer & designer was fading away; along with my 'career' as a freelancer. Every potential paid opportunity only ended up with me reading the bodies of emails that went along the lines of "We're sorry but we've decided to...".
At some point I realized that shit wasn't going to get any easier. So what saved me? Free work and a broken promise.
Nowadays, I appreciate working on projects for free, or pro-bono. It means that:
- I've got free time(which I choose to fill up by working on a project for free)
- I get the chance to pick up some new skills
- I can test myself to become a better listener and practice my professional mannered responses(projects with no budget tend to have a lot of requests, and I tend to respond with a No).
And even sometimes...
Free work does not have to be a bad thing. I look at the value it brings me. Like the opportunity to learn and share what I've learned with others, work on bettering a relationship with someone, boost my working portfolio, and provide a good service whether it be for a positive cause, or because I just can.
How often should you work for free? Not often. Put a price tag on everything. Getting paid to do what you love is the dream! When you've reached a certain point of paid jobs, take up some free work(they tend to be the most fun!). Who's to know what opportunites may come knocking at your door afterwards.
So what if free work is your bottom line? An exchange of services could be your ticket. Maybe a favor? Try negotiating. I scratch your back, you scratch my back.
What about free work in return for equity/shares? No thank you. If what you're working for free on is something that plans to accept payments and turn a profit, you should be collecting a payment and reconsider it as potential paid work.
So have I been working on any free work lately? I have. The latest project I'm working completely free on can be found here.
Thanks for reading!