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Should you ever work for free?


It can sometimes be very hard to turn down work even if it’s for free.

It might be friends wanting to pick your brains, to doing work for charities or larger companies tempting you with the potential lure of future paid work. You may be prepared to work for free if you think it’s going to improve your reputation. You may be wanting to pay if forward, but you need to be wary of underselling yourself by giving it away for free. I also have the same discussion with clients who charge way too little for their services. It does their professional reputation no good whatsoever and actually the work itself loses its value.

It helps to be clear about what you are prepared to do for free and the point at which you want to be shown the money. You need not only to be clear to yourself, but also the people or organisations that you are offering to do free stuff for right from the start so they know what the parameters are too. And you may need to remind them near the point at which the limit is reached. Nicely of course!

This article in the Guardian by Judy Heminsley gives a very good overview of the conundrum. Read article