When is Working for Free OK?

The New York Times Shifting Careers blog has an article that should be of interest to writers and web designers who are thinking of going the freelance route. Michelle Goodman, author of ‘My So-Called Freelance Life,’ has written a guest post outlining how doing freelance work for free –in certain instances– can benefit your freelance career. She also describes how to spot the many junk offers.

Goodman is by no means an advocate of not being compensated for work. But with the slew of non-paid work-just-for-exposure-or-experience offers floating around out there, Goodman has identified what some of the good opportunities are:

You have no clients or portfolio. If you left your staff position without any customer testimonials or work samples, you may have to do a freebie or three for a worthy small business to prove to paying clients that you’ve done this before. Pick short-term projects (several days, tops) so you’re not stuck working pro bono until the next decade.

There’s a wealth of more excellent freelance advice at Goodman’s article.

Author: Danny Sanchez

Danny Sanchez is the Audience Development Manager at Tribune's Sun-Sentinel.com and OrlandoSentinel.com. Danny has been with Tribune since 2005 in a variety of editorial, digital and product development roles in Hartford, Orlando and Fort Lauderdale. He has also previously worked in the newsrooms of the Tampa Bay Times and The Miami Herald.

2 thoughts on “When is Working for Free OK?”

  1. That’s an interesting and informative read. Equally insightful are the reader comments, too, from people with both horror and success stories. But I think the column only skirts a sobering reality: That in today’s distressed economy, freebie projects probably are required for anyone recently laid off or looking for a career transition. That’s not a good thing but it doesn’t have to be a bad thing either. Think of it as marketing yourself and expanding your connections.

  2. Thanks for the comment Steven. There is a lot to be said for expanding connections, especially with things being so touch. But I do recall a time –when I was much greener– that I actually entertained the thought of turning down a paid internship at a large metro because I had already committed to an UNpaid internship at a smaller paper. It was all my old journalism professor could do to contain himself from smacking me on the forehead, but he did manage to steer me toward that paid internship.

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