When it comes to valuing your worth, something which I am a fierce advocate of, it’s not just cold hard cash that can be the deciding factor. While the thought of working for free might initially seem like something that no-one in their right mind would want to do, on the contrary, doing some pro bono work can actually be a really good investment in your business. If you chose your projects and collaborations wisely and correctly use that work as part of a larger campaign or as a stepping stone to something else, it can be a hugely beneficial exercise.
The very best way to get paid work is to show potential clients that do you do the kind of work that they want. If you’re approached by a company to do something but they don’t have a budget to pay you, ask yourself, will the experience or portfolio content you’re going to get out of this make it worth your while?
Don’t just sit around waiting for these offers to come your way though. It’s up to you to make sure you have the right body of work to show your clients. If you don’t then it’s time to get proactive. If you’re a wedding photographer wanting to shoot alternative weddings but all your current clients are at the traditional end of the market, a great way to do this might be to offer discounts or host a free wedding photography contest that targets the exact market you want to attract. If you’re a designer it’s easier – simply take some time to design some items that will be appreciated by the clients that you want to work with. Just because you’re not getting paid to design something doesn’t mean you shouldn’t be doing it in your own time!
I get a lot of companies wanting to work with me but who only offer exposure in exchange – i.e they’ll mention me in their newsletter, link to me on facebook or write about me on their blog. While it’s very flattering to be asked and all press is good press, I have to consider whether this exposure is going to be a fair exchange for the time and effort I need to put into the project.