New freelancers warned against working for free

The golden nugget of advice for a profitable freelance career – don’t work for free -- has not always been picked up by some already on their way to being creative veterans.

In fact, a poll of 946 freelancers with an average of seven years’ experience in their respective creative fields shows that 86% have experience of working without any payment.

In practical terms, this means the freelancers spent 31 chargeable days in the past two years on unpaid assignments, either because they agreed to or because pay never materialised.

And in financial terms, the finding is even worse, implied The Freelancer Club and the Association of Independent Professionals and the Self-Employed (IPSE), which ran the poll.

They estimate the average loss that the 8 in 10 freelancers incurred to equate to some £5,394 a year, which then put the squeeze on their work-related costs and personal living expenses.

It also affected their confidence when trying to set a rate in the future with other clients, or when needing to ask the existing ‘non-paying’ client for money for a project.

For these reasons and others, droves of freelancers who are veterans at freelancing – not just in their respective creative fields – disapprove of working for nothing.

“When you agree to work for free, and the client makes a monetary profit from this free work, you risk creating a race to the bottom that undermines daily rates of pay for the whole industry,” said The Freelancer Club’s Matt Dowling, who is running a #nofreework campaign.

Cyndee, a freelance graphic designer, has a similar stance. “Don’t let others take advantage of you in the beginning or it will be something they continue to do,” she said.

In agreement is freelance writer Louise who, like Cyndee, earlier this month revealed the top things they wish they had known when they first started out as a freelancer.

“Only somebody who doesn’t respect your work would ask you to do it for free”, she said. “They always turn out to be more trouble than they’re worth.”

As to why the polled freelancers said they worked for free, more than half did so in the hope of gaining exposure for their work, followed by those who wanted to be associated with a reputable brand.

Editor’s Note: Related Reading –

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28th October 2016

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