If you are a self-employed freelancer or consultant with any amount of success under your belt, you have no doubt had to deal with people asking you to work for free. I’ve dealt with this for over ten years, and I am the first to admit it can be a tricky situation that can quickly turn into a slippery slope if not handled appropriately.
I can’t help but think that when our friends and colleagues ask us to work for free, they just simply aren’t thinking it through. Sometimes we have to gently tell them that we aren’t a bunch of wealthy people sitting around on our bums all day tinkering with our hobby. Instead, we are busy professionals busting our ass to earn a fair living in a competitive market. If you are like me, time is one of your most valuable assets, and you certainly don’t have a bunch of extra time to be giving out for free.
However, on the flip side of this equation, I do complimentary work when it comes to charities that I’m passionate about or, of course, my mother. She knows she can call me anytime of the day or night, and I will always be there to answer any questions or help her. Every once in a while I’ll do some complimentary work for a friend; however, I always explain that I’ll have to get to their job after all the paying customers are taken care of. As a result, I’ve had a few friends that have had to wait a month or two for me to swap out a hard drive or back-up their computer. Funny, they didn’t ask me to do any free work for them after that happened.
I found three articles on the topic that are very well written and offer different perspectives. I’ve included them here for you:
New York Times – When To Work For Nothing
Lifehacker – Freelancers: Work For Full Price or Free, Never Cheap
The Independent Journalist – Should I Work For Free?
Jessica Hische, a brilliant designer, created this very cool flowchart that approaches this dilemma in a cute way. First, you translate it into whichever language you’d like. Next, you chose if you’d like the sailor mouth version or the non F-bomb version. Then, you start at the middle and work your way out by completing the questions. Soon you’ll have your answer about whether or not you should do the job for free. I love this Jessica, thank you!
Image Credit: [akva / Shutterstock]