Stop working for free

I found this article via a Twitter link.

Hey, you — talented, creative person: please, stop working for free.

….Don’t do it for “exposure.” Don’t do it for “the practice.” Don’t do it to be nice.

You’ve got skills, yo. There ain’t nothin’ wrong with receiving payment for in return for your services 

I cut a lot out, go to the link for the full article.

I’ve been mulling. I’m not totally sure I agree. I mean, I don’t disagree with the basic premise – it’s OK to charge money for your skills. But the more I think about it… hm.

For one, giving of myself, my time, and my skills/talents is a part of who I am. I don’t always have to have a profit motive. I do things for free just to be nice. I do things for free to get exposure (though not often). I give things away free because it’s for a good cause. I do things for free because it’s fun to surprise people.

I had a customer recently email me to say she realized that she wanted her stuff a DIFFERENT way than the way she ordered it, and could I change them for her. I could change them the uber professional way and charge her for my time, or I could change them in a serviceable but not overly pretty way and do it for free because I recognized that she’d spent a considerable chunk on the items already. I gave her the option, because if she wanted them perfect, I certainly wanted to provide that for her, but she chose the free way, which is what I would have done, too.

Now, it still took time, yes, and some materials. I didn’t come out ahead. But in a way, I did. I did a favor for a local customer and she’s happy and I feel good about it. I would have felt crappy charging her for that.

As a Christian business owner, also, I feel I am called to do things for free. Not all the time. But yes, sometimes. Particularly if I’m doing something that is not my main business. (For example, helping with a website, though I totally could charge people for web design, it’s not my main business, I don’t do it as a business venture, and so I lend my admittedly modest skills to groups who can’t afford professional web design.) It is a way of giving back, it is a way of taking care of my community. I am commanded to give generously and as I am able. I am not able to give much actual money generously, but I can certainly give of my time and talents.

Also, I don’t think that everyone who can do something should go around trying to charge people for it. I find pseudo-businesses to be really annoying. I’m talking people who realize they can do something well, and so they just start willy-nilly charging others for it. They aren’t running a business, they’re running a hobby. But because they don’t see it as a business, they don’t bother with looking at the laws that might govern their product. They don’t bother with insurance (liability), leaving their customers potentially out to dry. They don’t bother with testing, again, leaving their customers with risks they don’t even know about.

It’s irresponsible.

It irritates me.

That’s all there is to it, I guess. It just bothers me. And it’s potentially illegal.

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About sarahtar

Our Family lives in central Iowa. We are Christians, conservatives, and crunchy granola heads. We love the outdoors, photography, and lindy hop. Turn ons are people who are polite, honesty, and really good root beer. Turn offs are mean people and people who make my life more difficult.

Posted on August 28, 2009, in Business. Bookmark the permalink. 1 Comment.

  1. I agree with a lot of what you said. I also am a big believer in “what goes around comes around”. I don’t mind doing things for free sometimes – and if it keeps in the Big Guys good graces and gives me karma points, all the better!

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