Let’s face it, we are in a society full on unpaid internships, volunteer opportunities, etc. that are meant to build our resumes, but what are they really doing?
Now, by volunteer opportunities, I am not talking about reading to the elderly–please still do that! I am talking about volunteering your time to do work for someone with a promise of getting some exposure. It never really works out.
Have I done free work? Absolutely, because I had to in college for internship hours and I still will do free work for friends (to a point). Why? Because there is no promise of exposure, but simply friends helping friends.
Now, if someone approached me and asked me to build their website for free or write some content, I would absolutely say no. Here’s why you should too:
Doing free work is helping someone else attain their goals at your expense
Every time you work for free, you are giving someone else your hard work. This can only help them–and drains your creative juices in the process. You have your own goals you want to reach–some of which require a monetary nest egg–so don’t let someone put your dreams on hold to use you to fulfil theirs.
The exposure is never great because companies unwilling to pay probably aren’t large enough for a marketing payoff
Honestly, if a company cannot afford to pay you at all, then they most likely cannot afford good marketing tactics to not only expose them to clients but also you as well. A payment is indirectly a form of a company showing their worth and allowing you to be a part of it.
Your should hold your credentials with high regard and not let someone take advantage of them
You went to college, you got that degree and put in the man hours to have that flashy resume which enticed this client to begin with. Stand your ground and make sure they know what you are worth. It may sound cliche, but consistently doing things for free out of fear of falling behind actually puts you more behind than waiting for that stellar paid job with someone who knows your worth.
Free doesn’t pay the bills on your end
Let’s face it, you need that internet connection and roof over your head to continue to do your work, so putting that at risk for companies to exploit you isn’t worth it. Without those essentials, you are out of luck and cannot continue to do work instead of simply holding out and pitching to companies who will pay and make you a part of their “team”.
It traps you in a vicious cycle
The more you say yes to clients for free work, the more it becomes a habit–and you may get yourself stuck in this cycle. You may do work for free for one company, they tell another and when you say you will not do their work for free, they turn around and say “Well, you did it for them…” and the cycle continues. Do not even let this cycle begin and I promise you won’t regret not using these exploitative companies for “exposure”.
Freelancers Union worked very hard along with many freelancers to create the Freelance Isn't Free Act, ensuring freelancers are not taken advantage of for their time and work.
Have you worked for free? Did it work out for you or not? I’d actually love to hear everyone’s feedback on this.
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