Working for free

Hello you may have seen my post about a partner.

ive just posted to tell u that i am doing what would normally be paying job, for free, so anyone that needs a job done cheaply look no further. its just for me to get some professional experience

my email is [email protected] and [email protected]

I did that once. Then I realized that I could get paid AND get the experience.

The problem with doing stuff for free is that you can wind up doing a lot more work than you expected. If you can get paid, do that. That way you get the work experience, and the experience of negotiating your own fee as well (which is a skill in and of it self!)

The difference between a professional and an amateur is that a professional is able to convince someone to pay them.

Charging less for inexperience makes sense, but in my opinion doing work for free is an all around bad deal. It certainly doesn’t help you, and it helps to further the wrong idea that art / design work isn’t worth paying for.

Yes. While one may get experience, it gives employers the false impression that since they can get their graphics work done for free, or very little money, they don’t need to pay the artists. Which is bad for everyone who is trying to make a living from 3d/graphics.

I have done several projects for people that I would consider “special” and wanted to help them publish and stuff. So I said, “I’ll do the work and you pay me what you think it is worth”. They gave me too much!
Not that I didn’t have the hours in. I was learning at the same time though and really wanted to help them out. So I credited their accounts. I was pleased with thier recompense and they were pleased with the finished work. Not saying it would always turn out that way but it does make for exciting prospects and good relationships.

I agree that you need to be very, very careful if you try to “give your work away.” In the business world, one contracts for products and services, paying “valuable consideration” therefor, and receiving warranties and other assurances from the vendor (you). It is generally not a good idea, from the point-of-view of anyone concerned, to break from that model.

Some folks will give you experience, or a good reference, for a little pro bono work, and it may make perfect sense for you to accept this as your “valuable consideration” in lieu of cash, if you freely choose to do so. (And it can indeed be very valuable to you!!) But even so, there is one aspect of business that you definitely always want to keep: you want to set definite expectations as to what you will deliver, and when you will deliver it. (It goes without saying that you should subsequently deliver… a little better, a little sooner.) Also make it expressly clear who will own the completed work, and what uses you may make of it (e.g. for your portfolio). You want to exercise a businesslike relationship even if you choose to do the work for “valuable considerations” other than cash. Keep the lines of communication open. It will be experience that will serve you wisely for years to come.

sundialsvc4, good post.

I would like to add one thing. In cases of pro bono work, even thought it is for “free” you should still have a written contract. At least that is how I work. Of course most of my projects are more than just an hour here and an hour there.

There’s only one person that I’ve ever done stuff for free and that was because it was a low-profit LAN party group. I became good friends with the guy and he has referred me to a number of people. It also was the springboard for my future carrer in graphic design and convinced me to get in the art program.

When you are contracted to do work for someone you always have to be careful of being overworked. When designing a logo, for example, your client will always want you to make little changes or explore just a little bit more. They want to see every possible combination or design idea and then expect you to continue to tinker with it until time is out. It’s always good to push yourself but not to the point where you are working on average of 6 US dollars an hour.

Some advice that was given to me that I’ll pass on here is to write up a contract for your client that explains how the work can be used, and also how much work you’ll put into it. For example, in one particular contract that he wrote up, it explained in the contract that one sketch will be approved by the client, after the final is done one revision can be made. After that, that’s all the work he’ll put into it. There are so many advantages to writing up a contract, so keep that in mind. It will help keep you from getting burned.

Something similar is happening to me right now with a logo for a graphics and audio API. I submitted my logo, asked for feedback, and already they are giving me suggestions for a logo design. Now, until I decide to put my foot down and say, “this is the logo. You like it, so use it,” they are still going to want me to explore. The funny thing is, they ALREADY like the logo, but still they want to see more ideas.

Sometimes clients will give you solutions to a design problem “How about a logo that has the acronym inside the keys of a keyboard,” or something like that. This has become my mantra for graphic design:

“Give me a problem and I’ll give you a solution. Give me a solution and I have a problem.”

I usually have to tell clients this with more less direct words but the principle is the same. You have to think, but not out loud, “I have more design sense then you do, and I know what will look good because I am a graphic designer and you’re not.” Again, don’t ever say that out loud! However sometimes that’s the attitude you have to have so that you don’t work too much.

When you get good, start thinking about getting paid for your work. The people that you do stuff for free won’t ever expect to pay you ever again. Am I ever going to ask for money for my design stuff for the LAN party in the future? No. It’s a labor of love and it’s going to stay that way, and I’ll be a total schmuck if I ask him to pay me.

Working for free can open up a lot of doors, but be careful, especially if it’s a real business. Be confident about your work. If you are good enough to get paid, then expect to get paid! The best experience is paid experience. It’s not that it’s about the money. When someone pays you for a pretty picture you will feel good about yourself, and that shines through to your employers, clients, and through your work.

Ok i see… i understand what u guys are saying, but im only 15 and i’m wondering how i would go about getting paid or low pay.


Well somehow you found some work, the only thing you forgot was… “that will cost $X”. I got my first graphic design contract when I was 16 and didn’t know anything.

A big part of this business is being able to figure out how much $X should be. You’ll make mistakes. Sometimes you’ll charge to much and not get the job. Other times you’ll charge to little and be working for peanuts. But, you’ll learn.

OK thanks… did u find the job in real life or on the net?
just curious

Sort of both. My Father and I started an e-commerce website back in '95. The client was one on-line banner ad company we were working with. It just so happened that they were located close by, and while I originally met on the net we did have an in person meeting.

Even today, I get very little work from the net. Mostly word-of-mouth and local. Most communication between clients for me entails an in-person meeting or two at the start of the project, with the remainder of the project communication happening via phone and email.

One word of advice. Since you are 15, you have a slight disadvantage. People are going to perceive you as inexperienced (which to some extent you have already admitted) and perhaps unreliable. The best ways that I have found to overcome that as a young person is to dress professionally. It is amazing how people wouldn’t listen to a thing I said when I was dressed casual, but in a suit and tie - speaking clearly and correctly - they suddenly become attentive.

I’ve done quite a bit of ‘free’ work, CGI, website design & coding and sound design.

In all cases, I’ve only recieved monetary payment for website design.

However, the sound design work was for two films. In both cases my name is credited in the credits at the end of each film.

Some CGI work was for 3DTotal’s Total texture collection, payment was a final copy of each of the texture disks that my credited work was included on and global advertising of my work through their sites and the cd roms. Other CGI work I’ve done has been paid for by advertising my skills worldwide on the websites I’ve worked for.

Although I’ve not recieved money, I have recieved global exposure and free advertising of my skills. Do a search in google for ‘Sonix’ ‘Blender’ & ‘Tim Ellis’ to see.

I’ll suggest this, where you don’t charge for work, make sure that you recieve payment through any means that the client can offer you, such as free advertising of your talents. Clients will jump at the chance of a reduced cost outlay.

Tim. (Sonix.)

re: payment and work.

I have done both paid and free work; cheap and costly jobs. I work as a video editor and 3d animator for Steam: Motion & Sound in Sydney. I have found that the amount of work you do for a client is INVERSELY PROPORTIONAL to the amount of money you receive. I am in the process of patenting a formula to illustrate this, and it shall be known as “Paul’s Law”. :smiley:

That sure is the truth. Plus, when the going gets rough - you can’t say “well at least I’m getting paid well for this”.