Working for Free

Lets talk for a second about working for free. Because in this industry, it comes up a lot.

While I was in school, they warned us, you'll do it. You'll have to work for free, likely your entire career but almost exclusively in the beginning. I expected it and to this day still welcome pro bono opportunities. But once I graduated, the emails started and they haven't stopped. Makeup for school theatre productions. Fashion shows. Sponsored Events. To this day, I still get emails at least once a week referring me to a job for the grand day rate of $0. Take a look on craigslist. For free. For credit. We'll refer you work later. We're a great new start up. 

No worries, I called my bank and told them I would recommend everyone to Bank of Montreal for their mortgages and they were totally cool with letting my payments slip.

They just said they would take my house away.

Ok, I'm getting carried away with sarcasm. The thing is, working for free is great and nessecary but often misused. It gives you guilt free first time experience in the beginning from people who you aren't burning bridges with because they were never going to hire you anyway (hello, school plays). Later on, it has the potential to open you up to great contacts, build your book and meet tons of awesome people (hence, creatives). But you will see the most ludicrious offers come from all sorts of people who are taking advantage of eager people looking for their big shot. 

I took a long hiatus from hair and makeup freelance work after I was tricked into doing a lookbook for free. I was under the impression I was filling in on a last minute creative with a team I was interested in checking out. Imagine my surprise when I found out I was shooting a campaign for a local designer. I'll check the story, sparing you the acrimonious details and leave you instead with the easiest solution to addressing offers for free. Consider this, ways not to get burned:

Think to yourself, why is there a budget for everything else BUT hair and makeup? How did they create a line of clothing with no money? Why can a charity pay for a venue or a marketing campaign? How will a start up company with no budget lead to future paid work?

I think this is the best article I've read about working for free and why you should/not do it. And even better than that, this flowchart from swiss miss' blog will lead you in the right direction. 

1 comment:

karen iwachow said...

that was well said. bravo
sadly there are too many people that dont get it

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