26 June 2017

The Free in Freelancing doesn't mean Free

So a friend on Facebook recently asked me about an article he saw. In the article the author describes a situation in which he was asked to build some software (website basically) for a product. He responds with a bid of something like $600. Seems legit right? Well, the person he was talking to wanted him to do it for free, for the exposure. Of course the programmer refused. 

You should always refuse to work for free.

I've been at this for a while. I've had plenty of offers to do work for various amounts of money and other reasons. I have never worked for free. I have worked for equity, also not the best idea, but never for free. Working for free is a fools game. If someone values your work enough to approach you and has enough confidence in their idea to think your contribution will help it succeed, you deserve to get paid. 

If you choose to work for equity (as I have done on occasion) then go right ahead. If there is merit in an idea and you think it will turn into a profitable business, then get yourself a good lawyer and make an agreement to get some of the equity. Or, just take cash up front. Your downside on cash upfront is missing out on a percentage of the next Facebook, but that is a risk you can at least take under your own control. Giving away the fruit of your labor is just non-sense.

Final note, if you do decide to do something on the cheap, don't sell yourself short. Tell your customer what you would normally charge and then what kind of discount you are willing to give them in exchange for a piece of the action. If their idea is real and they believe in it, you are negotiating. If they don't have that confidence, move on to the next opportunity.