Why you should never work for free
No matter if you are coder, graphic designer, photographer or college student, you have probably had a request to work for free. The expected benefits should be the expansion of your portfolio, improvement of your brand or gaining valuable experience you can add to your CV. My advice: don´t accept these requests, no matter if it´s made by a company or good friend.
This attitude could be considered as radical, but lets go through it. Is there anyone who will have a financial benefit because of your work? Let him pay for your help! No matter if it will be just a small amount compared to your experience.
Still not convinced? Read more…
Imagine a situation. Your good friend asked you to meet to make a logo for his new project (bike repair or design new web, etc.). Your automatic reply was yes. The next morning you receive two well paid, but time consuming job offers. Considering your chart of priorities, which rank is your friend´s request now? Hmm… very likely the last. And maybe it will never be done. Think about it, nobody can insist on deadlines for volunteer projects.
Lets presume you have decided to take the unbelievable effort to make a logo for your friend before doing the other paid work. It is after midnight already, your eyes are small and red, you are tired as hell and you are angry at Paul for bothering you with his new start-up. Right before sunrise you are able to click the send button… Noone cares what is really in the attachment. Your job is done here, isn´t it?
Don´t be fooled, expectations of your performance for an unpaid project will be the same as for a paid one, if not higher. And nobody wants to hear excuses like: „I can´t do miracles for free.“ An unsatisfied customer will always be an unsatisfied customer, no matter how much he does (not) pay.There is nothing easier than ruining your friendship or reputation that way.
Let’s say you decided to design your friend´s logo, put it into your portfolio and will charge money for your future projects? I don´t think so… I would rather say your next projects will be voluntary too, because why should anybody pay you if you are famous for working for free?
You think you will learn something valuable by volunteering? Something that should move you forward? I am 100 % sure managers in Apple learn something new constantly and they are still being paid for it. In most cases, the real development happens for you only when working in a team on some big, difficult and interesting project, which is usually paid.
You can negatively influence the market when you work for free. You most likely make poor quality products (usually people put more effort into it when it’s paid) and take the job of professionals. Since you don´t recieve any money you can´t put them into circulation again – that hurts other entrepreneurs. In the end, volunteering slows down economical growth.
Or does it? What do you think? Do you agree?