Never Work for Free

As a writer, I’m approached quite a bit by people that seem to think I’m looking for opportunities to give my work and talent away pro bono (for free).

Their argument usually goes something like this – if I give them my time, energy, and talent I will gain value down the road by showcasing what I have done for them for nothing. It will give me business and attract future paying commissions for my work.

It could not be further from the truth, and here’s why.

Unless I can point to a real, tangible payoff to giving away my labor and efforts there is absolutely no reason or point to my doing so. Furthermore, that whole “showcasing what I have done for them” stuff that’s supposed to attract business for me as a freelancer will most assuredly work for me – in a negative fashion.

It will bring out additional leeches who will want me to continue to offer blood, toil, tears, and sweat totally free because I will gain even more exposure of my talents through them for future business in the sweet by-and-by. After all, haven’t I already set a precedent by giving away my work to that prior “client”?

So, if you are a writer, painter, or similar professional in your field – beware the lure of the silver tongued client who wants you to work for free.

It costs them nothing, but may cost you a great deal down the road.


John Lewis is a freelance writer and editor for hire. Reach him at . He writes for the site Crowdfunding Hell. To see his write-ups on LinkedIn, join the group Products In Search of A Market. On Facebook, join Products in Search of a Market (Facebook).

Image: Creative commons