A freelancing career is plagued with so many misconceptions. They think everything is easy. With our autonomy in time and location, our friends see us as just vacationing amidst the world. And we all know that it's not the case.
They think our creative output is done without effort. That a mere "exposure" with your so-called followers is enough. Remember, the free in freelancing doesn't stand for free of charge.
It takes years of hard work and learning before one can master a craft. Even if it only takes less than an hour to make it, you should account the value it provides. After all, you would have to burn liters of midnight oil in the past to be able to produce output this quick in the present.
Freelancing is like a business. You are in charge of getting clients, delivering quality output, and getting paid. Imagine a retail store giving out free products every single time for the chance that the user will refer someone to actually pay. Will that business thrive?
I mean, if you're not getting paid, how will your business survive? Or in this case, how will YOU personally survive? Not that long, I surmise.
As a businessman, your actions should be towards profitability. Don't fall for the "I'll give you exposure" spiel of those who just want to shortchange you.
It depends on who is saying this. If National Geographic asks you to submit a picture for their article for free (For example purposes only, I highly doubt they ask without paying), it might be THE BREAK for that freelance photographer.
If it's an unknown website who is just starting now, go figure. Just remember, spend your time wisely.
But there are some occasional instances when a "free" freelancing gig is actually time well spent. And here are 3 you should watch out for.
When you are starting but don't know if this is the career for you, you can offer your services for a reduced price or for free. Try to get around two to three of these projects to get you started.
But make sure you choose your clients wisely. If something is given for free, people tend to neglect its value. So get to know your client as well. You don't want to work for people who will just take advantage of you.
Consider working for free when you think you can grow as a person with their mentorship. For example, an internship for a notable person you look up to in your field of choice.
Take note, you are not actually giving your service for free. Mentors have the experience, network, and skills that can be a multiplier for your career. You are exchanging that sought-after training for your services.
Lastly, when you advocate a good cause, certain not-for-profit groups may not have the budget to hire your expertise. When you are giving back to the community, you might consider giving it out for free.
It's your passion to help the community achieve their goals. Doesn't it feel good that you are supporting their purpose?
Nothing is really free. It's ok to be selfish with your work because freelancing work takes time. And you can't really get that time back.
So always think, if I give this service for free, what's in it for me? Will this really open to more markets? Will you be learning a new skill or will it be helping your advocacies?
When done right, freelancing is liberating. You have the power to do your passion with its location-independence and flexibility. So do not sell yourself short and enjoy the freelancing life. Good luck!