Have you ever been asked to do something for a client only to find out that they can’t actually pay you? If not be prepared to be in that situation sooner or later in your creative career. As I have started this journey of self-employment I have encountered quite a few opportunities to do something for someone where I was not necessarily “paid” in monetary terms.
Depending on your situation you have to ask yourself a few questions to determine if this project is a good idea or not.
1. Is this project something I would enjoy or love doing?
2. Is the client offering me something I can truly use in return for my time and services -is it truly of VALUE to me?
3. Can this client lead me (or refer me) to other clients who can pay me?
4. Are the project and the expectations of you and your client clearly defined?
5. Is this an opportunity to expand in a new direction that you have been wanting to gain experience in?
If you answered yes to at least 3 of the questions above then you may want to consider this sort of arrangement. I am finding that I am being asked to participate in various types of projects by other entrepreneurs and when someone else is just starting out as well I am more inclined to help them out if they are serious, professional and can offer me something equally valuable (relative to the time I would spend for them).
I’ve also been approached by mid sized/large companies asking me to work a barter deal with them. Frankly, this is not as appealing to me unless they rarely have something valuable to offer me in return. We all have to earn a wage at some point, here in the US it would be virtually impossible to survive on a barter system alone.
The whole subject of “Free” is one that is continuously being discussed. I’ve participated in a few online discussions over at the former website “Make and Meaning”. You can find an archive of these discussions on the subject of free over at Crafty Pod. This subject really gets people worked up, they either love or hate the idea of sharing their ideas and services for free or for the exchange of publicity, referral or some other less monetary exchange.
Either way, be prepared to explore the possible advantages and disadvantages of doing something for “free”.