When Freelancers Should NOT Work for Free…


We have all been there, done that. You are an entrepreneur in Malaysia, trying to start up and build a business of your own. Then there will be that one or two friends or relatives who will come and ask you…

”Eh can do this and that for me, for FREE ah? I thought you do FREE-lance?”

These people… either they are ignorant of the word “freelance”, or they are just downright trying to take advantage of you to get free work done. The reason they usually give is that by working for them for free, you will get exposure – but what exactly does “exposure” mean?

Here are THREE situations whereby you can work for that person for free to get the exposure you need, otherwise just don’t bother:

The word “free” in freelancing doesn’t mean that the work is done for free.
  1. Resume Builder

The top no.1 reason why you should work for free is if that person is a well-known name you can use to build your resume. For example, if you are a marketer and Gary Vee were to ask you to help write a page for him for FREE – seize that opportunity!

This is a great opportunity because then you can say on your article or on your name card, “as featured by Gary Vee.” That will instantly build your credential up – literally from no one to someone associated with big names.

  • Your Hero

The second reason why you can work for free with someone is that that person or company is your hero. For example, if you like nature, and World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF) asks you to write a piece of article for them – why not?

Even superhero needs an extra hands sometimes. If you genuinely believe you are doing work for good cause, then go ahead and do some charity – work for free!

If you genuinely believe in their cause and that they are doing good work – then it is time for you to give without expecting. Do good work for them without expecting anything in return.

  • Huge Audience

The third reason to write for free is that the company or person has a huge audience and you will be getting credit for your work. What constitutes a “huge audience?” Well, that depends on where you are at your career, but the general rule I would set is that the person must have 10x your audience, with a minimum of at least 10,000 followers.

For example, if the person asking help for free from you is someone who has only 1,000 followers – then “NO” even if they have 10x your followings. If they are not big enough, then you are better off publishing the videos/articles or whatever that you have made – yourself.

Exposure is undeniably the most important thing when you first started. If your conversion rate is only 1% – imagine if it is 1% of 10,000 people. That’s 100 clients!

When you are small, there is no time for charity. Sure when you have grown bigger to a level of your comfort you can invest more time helping others, but until then – you need to spend more time building up yourself first. You can’t help filling other people’s cup when your own cup is empty.

So those are really the only reasons to work for free. Like if some small insurance company comes along and tell you that “Hey, I want you to write for me for exposure.” Tell them you are busy and move on.

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