Should you freelance for free?

Tanya thought turning her wallet upside down would produce an income.

Tanya thought turning her wallet upside down would produce an income.

Why would anyone work for free? I know people say ‘Do a job you enjoy and you will never work a day in your life’ but would you do it for free? And when I say work I mean work and not volunteering. I do a lot of volunteering which I enjoy. Sometimes I do it for charities I am involved with, or for an organisation in which my children participate or for a local community action group, and I find it great fun and I am very happy to give up my time. But would you work for free?

Students in school work for free for experience, so too do interns from college. Typically, the reason is that the young person gets to spend time in a real working environment and to learn from the people around them. Then someone wishing to change career might consider working for free in a new environment, to see if their skill sets are transferable and if they enjoy the challenge. But why would an experienced person work for free?

Why would someone who is capable of contributing at top levels condescend to work for nothing?

Well, I am that person and the reason is threefold. The fourth reason is that I need money, so I am not sure how that fits in, so we’ll stick with the first three reasons.

I am an experienced writer and have written for broadsheets, magazines and online publications both in my native Ireland and abroad. I have lived and worked in the UK, American, Australia and Singapore. I have a long and impressive corporate curriculum vitae.

I am currently writing for free for a number of publications, which receive hundreds of thousands of readers daily. Publications that do not pay me. So why do I do it?

 

I need future income

Life has thrown me a curve ball which has thrown my personal financial circumstances into utter array. I have to begin again, all over again. Like the wind that blew Finnegan’s whiskers in again, so I must begin again. Accordingly, I have sought out some of the most interesting and prestigious publications and written for them, sometimes opinion, sometimes interviews, sometimes a mixture of the two. This keeps my name out there and I hope may in time open the door for paid commissions. So the first reason is for profile.

 

It opens doors

Some of the writing has opened doors for me. I have interviewed leading business people, interesting public figures and commented on topics that interest me. I am building my portfolio of work which I hope in time may lead to paid commissions. So, I am privileged to interview people I might not be able to reach without the backing of the publication. This is interesting and may in time prove advantageous in the future.

 

It keeps me busy

I would prefer my income to come from writing. I enjoy writing. Writing even for free keeps me busy. It creates new challenges instead of waiting for paid work. It also allows me to choose really interesting topics – after all no one is paying me so I can choose what subjects to write on. As long as I produce an interesting product then the publications will use them. So, I get to write. I love to write.

I need an income from writing. Currently also I blog on JillianGodsil.com but I have self published a number of books and am writing more under my agent. I would love if you would consider supporting my habit and purchasing a book or two!  My most recent publication is a series of essays on debt. 50 percent of the entire proceeds are pledged to Pieta House, a frontline charity for the prevention of suicide and self-harm in Ireland.

Do you, or would you consider, freelancing for free? Why or why not?

Jillian Godsil (1 Posts)

Jillian is a self-published author and blogger. Her work includes 'Does My Debt Look Big in This?' - a series of essays on debt, with half of the entire proceeds pledged to Pieta House, a frontline charity for the prevention of suicide and self-harm in Ireland.


Jillian Godsil

Jillian is a self-published author and blogger. Her work includes 'Does My Debt Look Big in This?' - a series of essays on debt, with half of the entire proceeds pledged to Pieta House, a frontline charity for the prevention of suicide and self-harm in Ireland.

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  • http://twitter.com/TashWord Tash Hughes

    For me, it’s a factor of time. I do write for free, these days mostly via guest blog posts, but it is only a part of my writing time – the rest is definitely paid. When I say I write for free, however, that’s not how I usually view it – I think of it as marketing and buiding credibility so I benefit just not with immediate cash. I don’t, for example, write for free in terms of client work.