Should You—EVER—Work For Free?

We’ve all had them.

Those pesky requests to work for free or discount your fees.

How do you say no? And is there ever a time when “yes” is the right answer?

If you’re grappling with this right now, you might also want to check out “Should I Work For Free” and try out their (hilarious) decision tree.

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  • Ross Hotchkiss

    Thanks for starting this discussion!

    As a filmmaker, I’ve put in enough ‘pro bono’ hours to buy a house, and still get weekly emails: “Dude, can you do VFX for our project? It’s a no-budget, but there’s great exposure!” I continue to struggle with this issue. Since networking is the most valuable tool in this business, working with people is a good way to discover who can walk the walk (and prove it yourself) – but working for free turns out to be problematic.

    The reason I’ve stopped freebies (and asking others for them) is exactly the mentioned valuation problem: It seems that you get what you pay for, more often than not, and you devalue your own brand.

    I’ve come up with a strategy that slows things down, but feels right: Begin the relationship by offering and giving value. When trust has been built, I’ll be happy to help people get where they’re going.

    • Rochelle

      I hear you Ross–it seems film especially attracts these requests. I like your approach–because it truly is all about relationships…

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