Working for Free

The Star: What To Say When You're Asked to Work for Free

As a writer and the CEO of a technology company, I found this article incredibly helpful. I'm often asked to write for free because it would be 'good exposure' for me, and I do blog for a Pagan magazine and sometimes write fiction for little or no money. However, I'm quite selective about those projects I undertake for the sake of exposure because I do expect my writing to reach a sufficiently large audience and/or an audience specifically interested in my work. It was the whole reason I self-published "The Ruin of Beltany Ring" and gave so many copies away (which, incidentally, helped me to achieve the level of exposure I hoped it would). However, my default position is payment for my work, and I reserve the right to choose what constitutes that payment.

I'm also frequently asked to undertake free web site projects for various organizations and in fact, I've been in a number of situations where my services have been rather rudely demanded of me. Of late, one person in particular has outright dismissed my position in Triskele Media because he presumes that my husband is the only person working in the company (For the record, if you want TM to work for you, I am your first and primary point of contact, the person you will negotiate contracts with, your customer-facing liaison and the project manager. Sean receives his marching orders from me and only from me, which is SOP for most technology companies). Others have volunteered our services to third parties without our consent and then come to tell us about it later. Still others have 'offered us the opportunity' to do charitable work and then chastised us when that work didn't meet their ever-expanding expectations. Yes, Triskele Media does engage in volunteer web development under specific circumstances, but those must necessarily be few in order for us to meet the needs of our paying clients. At present, we're negotiating work on an online Gaelic archive and an animal advocacy web presence, and both of those projects came to us via friends with excellent ideas that fell squarely in line with our own interests.

Perhaps as both an artist and a technologist, I am acutely aware of this 'work for free' phenomenon (artists are routinely expected to create 'for the love' and technologists are in high demand). That said, a friend and retired welder recently lamented the way his skills were demanded of him, often inappropriately. All this by way of saying that whatever your profession or your passion, you have the right to tangible compensation when others benefit from it, and you have the right to decide when and how you will offer that work for free. I certainly exercise that right, both as a writer and as the CEO of my company, and I was glad to see specific strategies in this article for doing so with a measure of grace.