Working for nothing.
It’s not all bad. I think that at the beginning of every transition into a new business model I worked 50/50 for money and for free. That said for free was at least for expenses. When I decided to go freelance as a photographer it was more like 70/30 free verses paid.
Nowadays I’ll normally accept one in three offers to do something for nothing. That’s where serendipity lives. Those chance encounters that lead to great opportunities. I accept more if it’s someone I’ve had social contact with.
I would never use that as a selling point though. If you are asking someone to work for free please don’t promise them all kinds of serendipitous riches.. “Our speakers agree to do it as they benefit from the exposure and they people they meet.” Serendipity doesn’t work like that.
I occationally climb mountains. Do Bushcraft. The promise of ‘Exposure’ makes me think of being unprotected, open to damage, danger or risk.
Somewhere just before or after the “Think of the exposure” plea I hear the words ‘not for profit’.
I’m going to ask next time, after paying all the wages from the tea-boy to the director, what was last years surplus? I’ll be happy with that thanks. It should at least cover the £50 return to London you are expecting me to pay so i can speak at your event.
It’s not that I don’t appreciate you thinking of me. I’d be bothered if people weren’t contacting me offering me opportunities for ‘exposure’.
It’s just that this month i’ve got bills to pay, a family to feed. Same as last month. Same as the next one. And just like you would not ask a plasterer to pop around and plaster your walls because lots of people will see his handy work.. Please don’t expect me to prep, travel, talk and hopefully inspire because someone there might pay me to do it again.
This year there will be at least 15 occasions where you can see me talk for free. Many are workshops kindly sponsored by the Open University.
I don’t want you to stop asking me to do stuff for free. I’ll say yes to one in three.
I just want you to think about whether or not you can pay for my time, my travel, or something towards the cost of living in a world that still demands cash for goods. Both my family and I would really appreciate that.