You might remember our article from a couple of weeks ago, where we gave you some reasons why you should never work for free. However, there are always more sides to a story and we thought it would be a good idea to see this topic also from another point of view.
Many people will say that a professional should never work for free, that your work is worth something and that companies, which don´t pay you, are taking advantage of you. Although those affirmations could be true sometimes, it could also be said that working for free is not a waste of talent and time, but an investment in an opportunity.
As Sean Johnson says “Having 50 real world projects in your portfolio that you did for free is better than five that you got paid for…You might not be as good as you think you are. Or you might be better, and just terrible at letting people know. Either way, it’s important to remember that nobody owes you anything. Experience is more important than money.”
Nevertheless, no one likes to feel that their work or effort isn't worth anything and to be realistic, long term volunteering isn´t really feasible in today’s society. This is why you should carefully consider if the unpaid work you are about to do is worth it.
Erin Lowry created a sort of test based on 5 questions, which we should always sincerely answer to ourselves before starting a free job:
- Can I see any direct benefit from this work, even if it's not financial? (For example, would I gain social media followers or expand a professional network?)
- Is this work indirectly benefiting me, and if so, how?
- How is this work furthering my goals?
- Do I like doing this work?
- Could I be working on bigger and better projects – ones that better serve my goals or provide financial compensation for my time and effort – if I weren't tied up in this unpaid work?
The blogger and finance geek Sarah Gilbert, also suggests considering doing something for free, if it meets one or more of these criteria:
- You can have access to the very best in your Industry
- You can learn skills you couldn't learn (or not so quickly) in a for-pay job
- You can have a title you couldn't qualify for otherwise
- Your free work will give you leverage for a for-pay position
- You just really, really love doing your work
By answering these questions, you can be more certain that your time, talent and work will be invested, not wasted or taken advantage of.
Start your own Business
According to a study made by the software company Intuit, the traditional employment model is changing, and by 2020 freelancers are expected to comprise 40% of the workforce. This means that more and more people could also create their own companies, which implies that they may have the wonderful opportunity of doing what they really want and love to do J. However, it also implies that very probably, they may have to work long hours for little or no pay at all (and with no guarantee of success and therefore no guarantee of ever earning any money).
Under these circumstances, working for free would suddenly have a new meaning. In this case, you wouldn’t just work for free for no reason, but because you want to achieve a goal; and in order to do so, It would mean obtaining a bigger network by promoting your work or services, improving your skills, speaking to possible new clients, etc. Wouldn´t it be worth it, if at the end you reach your dreams and really achieve what you want?
Work for a cause you believe in
Indeed, not everyone has the luck of working on or for something they love, but still they might want to feel and know, that what they are investing their time on, makes sense and has a purpose beyond just making money. This is why many people also put a lot of time, expertise and work into volunteering for a non-profit organization or working on a project/initiative of their own, which, instead of money, will give them self-satisfaction, experience, networking and the irreplaceable feeling of doing something good for someone.
In conclusion, working for free or not is not a black and white issue; as it is with everything we do, we should always be open to consider the different points of view on things. Being open and flexible will give us more benefits than fixing ourselves to a single idea or view. Do you agree?