Hello, beautiful creatives! I bang on all the time about not working for free. We creatives need to get paid for our expertise, our time and our skillset. I hate creatives being taken advantage of, and ending up working for free. But, there are some scenarios where we can work for free.

Here are 3 scenarios where you can say “yes” to working for free. Let’s dive into them.

FIRST SCENARIO: It aligns with an existing business goal

 The first scenario that you can say yes to working for free is if it aligns with an existing business goal or it fits neatly into your business model. Ask yourself these questions:

  • Is it something you’ve always wanted to achieve?
  • Will it help you reach a meaningful goal?
  • Is it something you want to do, or someone you want to reach, in your business?

If it’s a goal that is pre-existing and an opportunity comes up to reach that goal, and you have to work for free, then maybe it’s a good idea to say “Yes” to that, as long as you leverage that opportunity.

SECOND SCENARIO: a pre-allocated pro bono budget 

We often get asked to donate to charities or be part of a good cause. This can be a slippery slope. But there is a scenario when you can happily say Yes: only if you have a pro bono budget pre-allocated. If you’ve baked free-work into your business model where you pre-determine a certain number of hours or a specific budget per year, then go for it. You can decide which people, charities or organizations to donate your time and work to.

AGAIN it’s got to be pre-planned. It can’t just be any anyone who comes and asks for something for free. The rule is that you have to have planned it into your business. And when you’ve reached that allocation of pro bono work then you must say “No“. Keep your boundaries!

THIRD SCENARIO: business going through a slow patch

The third scenario when you can say yes to free work is if your business is going through a quiet patch. I avoid the famine and feast cylce as much as I can. In my group mentoring program, we talk about how to even ou, so it’s not just it’s not a huge rollercoaster ride.

But let’s be honest; business sometimes can be a bit slow, despite our best efforts. If you’re having a slow month, you may want to:

  • Drum up some content or new eyeballs for your business.
  • Refresh the momentum your business.

Then yes, absolutely do something for free. But leverage it as content, as an audience building exercise or a way to bring new clients in.

Also, have a time scale. For example, if you are having a quiet month, only offer a limited number of free spots. That way you can still focus your time on revenue-generating activities, and THAT should always be your focus. Have limit. Do not spend all your quiet period working for free.

To recap:

With all three scenarios, you need to be really strict with yourself to ensure you have boundaries that you stick to. Why? Because it’s so easy to get carried away and keep saying yes when in reality you should be saying no.

If you understand and identify these three scenarios, create boundaries and stick to to them, then I think you will be absolutely fine saying Yes to working for free.

But be warned….the general rule of thumb is NOT to work for free. Society has a habit of taking advantage of us, and sadly we often allow them to. It’s our responsibility to draw a line in the sand and take back control.