The Hidden Benefits Of Working For Free

Whats up folks, Deangelo here and if y’all are anything like me you’ve heard the infamous working for exposure line. Where someone, for some reason, wants you to work for free in return for money the intentionally vague buzzword, “exposure”.

While its true that you DO need exposure to grow, it is also true that many of the people who want you to work for free are generally scummy. However there ARE reasons why you as a creative professional should work for free or reduced rates.

  1. Working for free puts things in perspective

First things first, it helps put things in perspective and should alleviate some stress you may have. You generally aren’t going to be doing a big project for Nike for free (hopefully), you’re more than likely going to be working for Joe Shmoe as you build up your skills.

While you still should try and create your best work no matter the job, you are freed from the pressure that there are hundreds or thousands of dollars on the line if things don’t go your way. Best case scenario, the client loves your work and wants to hire you for paid work (unlikely, but it can happen). Worst case scenario, the project falls through and nothing results from it. BUT, and here’s the important part, you still get valuable experience dealing with real clients under real deadlines. Hell you may even knock it out of the park and get a future client AND a nice portfolio piece out of it.

  1. Working for free lends you credibility

If you are able to get a quality finished product out of the deal, then thats great in itself. This is so for two reasons (1) it shows that you are dedicated and can complete projects and (2) it gives credibility to your claim that you can do what you say you can. Would you eat egg salad made by someone who has never seen eggs before? Hell No! Same principle applies here. If you show others that you not only have done what you claim you can do, but you know what you’re doing, you’re upping your chances of someone picking you up for a project.

Its a small world after all. Skill and reliability gets around.

  1. Working for free DOES in fact give you exposure

Piggybacking off that last point, doing high quality work – free or not – and releasing it to the public is a wonderful way of increasing your public image. As you put out more work you become a brand, people can grow to recognize you and your work leading you to greater opportunities.

The downside to this is it takes time, lots of it. You won’t grow to stardom overnight, but the more you put out the more you get back. Remember egg salad guy? The same principle applies here. If you are consistent and put out good work people will want more. Plus, if they don’t know you do what you do, why and how could they go to you? Make it easy for people to choose you.

  1. Working for free allows you to practice your craft

Now for what I think is the most important thing you get from working for free is, practice at your craft. Everything else on this list relies on you actually being able to produce quality. And the ability to produce reliable quality work, only comes from long hours dedicated to the work. Reliability on its own is one thing (one vital thing), but no one wants to be known for crap. That’s obviously no good. You want to be known as that guy or girl who knocks it out of the park, every time, no questions asked. Someone that not only gets the job done, but gets it done well and is (hopefully) a breeze to work with.

They say practice makes perfect, but there’s generally one surefire thing practice leads to. Harder practice. As you grow you’ll want to challenge yourself to do even better than previously possible. Through this combination of dedication and effort you’ll grow and be better than before, leading to a more hirable you.

There are loads of other reasons why I think practicing your craft is one of the most rewarding things you can do as a creative professional, but that’s another topic for another post. 

The big thing with working for free is figuring out if its a good use of your time, and as a creative professional your time is worth real money. Here I’ve outlined some of the benefits to working for free, and in a later post ill lay out some of the risks of working for free. The obvious and not so obvious.

Soon there will be a YouTube video to accompany this post. Stay in the know by subscribing, this way you don’t miss any important episodes. Also, you can catch me directly on Twitter, and Instagram (I post a lot of motivation information for creative entrepreneurs).  Thanks for reading, and i’ll catch you all in the next one! Peace!