Should I work for free?
Short answer: no. For something other than money? Sometimes.
Believe it or not, even after 25 years into my career, I still get asked to work for free. If you do a bit of reading around the internet, it seems that this isn’t terribly uncommon in graphic design, but it is still a little shocking. While I do sometimes work for free or nearly free, it is rarely because I am asked and always for my reasons and on my terms.
While most reasonable people are understanding when I decline working for free, others react as if I suggested kicking a kitten. Twice I have been met with outrage. Once I was threatened. All for declining to work without compensation. Crazy, right?
The basic premise is this: work has value. If work didn’t have value, you wouldn’t ask for it. If you would like my work, design, as a value to be added to your project, there should be some return on that value. Usually that return is money but there can be other returns.
Aspects for consideration:
Is your business for profit or are other contributors getting paid? If the answer to this question is yes, you can stop right there. The answer to free work is no.
How about an exchange of services?
How about a share of equity?
Do we have the kind of relationship where you might say yes if I asked somethign similar of you?