Creatives, Forget about Getting Paid, it’s Time to Work for Free!

Illustrator will work for freePeople of the creative industry, ever been hard at work one day only to be interrupted by a complete unknown asking you to commit yourself to a commercial project with no prospect whatsoever of achieving any kind of payment for it?

I think that there’s a good chance that the answer is yes. Below are the reasons why you should jump right in and do just that.

What could possibly go wrong?

1. You should want to work for nothing because being creative is fun

Yes, art is nothing but constant fun, didn’t you know?

How could you possibly dream of ever wanting to charge for it?

All those years of having to put up with people saying things like, “Oh yeah, Art, I could do Art but I’d much rather have a real job.”

Or how about the day you finally graduated and wondered how you were going to pay back all of those student loans while other people who had chosen more conventional career paths could look forward to a solid and steady income from the word go?

What about the small fortune you’ll have already spent on tuition fees, art materials, books, computers, software with no real guarantee of a return in your investment?

Or maybe you are also an illustrator like myself who has really had to work hard at perfecting a particular drawing skill in order to achieve something that even vaguely resembles a professional standard. If like me, the drawing of human hands has always been your Achilles heel then you will most likely have had to spend years filling endless sketchbooks of nothing but drawings of hands until you got some kind of handle on it. Maybe to the point where your own hands physically ached.

As you can see, I’m clearly talking about endless memories of total happiness here.

Work for free, profit making is for others.

2. It will lead to paid work eventually

Yes. This will happen. Definitely.

After years of sending out signals that you are completely comfortable offering a professional service and not charging for it, people will out of the blue decide that they should start paying you.

This is despite the fact that they’ll already have saved tens of thousands of dollars from taking your work for absolutely nothing. Suddenly they’re going to decide to part with their money despite the fact that they are under absolutely no pressure to do so.

3. People have more important things to be doing than paying you for your services anyway

Like laughing all the way to the bank and smiling broadly at their bosses as they explain how they’ve managed to save an absolute fortune for their marketing department by getting all their branding and advertising for absolutely nothing.

4. You’ll get some great work for your portfolio

Because lets face it, you are completely incapable of building a portfolio that showcases you or your abilities on your own right?

Yes, you’ll already have spent years understanding your craft, what you do and how best to showcase yourself to the world but you can forget about all that.

Your portfolio will only truly be complete once you can fill it with all the work that you have produced for a load of strangers that are hell bent on freeloading, cutting corners and only looking out for their best interests.

What’s more, once you’re able to effectively showcase the fact that you’ll happily work for nothing, you’ll be able to attract even more of these dream clients. Namely, more cowboys that will cheerfully take your work for nothing.

Imagine that? An endless stream of absolutely no revenue for the foreseeable future!

5. It will devalue your entire industry and make it even harder for your fellow professionals to make a living out of doing what they love

This is the end game right?

The only potential downside to this is that the line at the local soup kitchen might get a little longer as it fills up with lots of tired looking creative types with bags under their eyes from being up all night producing free work for people they don’t even know.

6. It will be great exposure for you

Like exposing the fact that you will allow yourself to be coerced into providing a professional and valuable service for absolutely nothing.

7. You’ll have a terrible experience and never do any of this “working for exposure” stuff again.

Like I did.

I’ve done all of the above at some point. I’ve been that person.

Please, don’t do the same. You work too hard and you’re far too valuable.

You’ve had the bravery to choose an uncertain industry and an unconventional career path and you deserve to be rewarded for it.