I've got a request to submit sample work for a 500-word article. The client wants to know my skills in writing about the subject.. yet, I don't feel comfortable doing free work. How can I deal with this?
asked May 06 '11 at 00:21
This is more of a personal choice, really. Some freelancers do free work as a form of goodwill to their prospects. You can call it free pitching, good karma or some marketing strategy and it definitely worked for some. Personally, I won't do spec work as I am an avid supporter of the No!Spec campaign... and I never will. As Benjamin Franklin said, " Time is Money.." and clients need to respect that.
answered May 10 '11 at 07:03
I'm inclined to take a more liberal approach, for quite a few reasons:
Firstly, employers need reassurance too. Just reading through some freelancers' feedbacks will give many examples of delivering below expectation. This is the employer's time and money wasted, as well as a poor reflection on the freelancer. Being prepared and competent to tackle the assignment may sometimes require proof beyond your portfolio, in the form of a test or spec work. It really is in the freelancer's best interests, especially if the employer is justified in his reasoning, to offer free work. More so if it is still the interview stage. If you were job hunting in the real world, what costs do you incur in going for interviews?
Secondly, there is an element of goodwill that the employer will appreciate, which can lead to potential bonus payments and ongoing or repeat work. Much like taking extra courses to improve your chances of promotion in the real world, where you pay for these too.
Thirdly, if you are a new freelancer, you may more easily be able to convince a prospective employer of your potential or ability by offering a free sample of your work. After all, you are 'selling' yourself and maybe you need to budget for 'free samples'. This will also give you an advantage over the competition. (Or put you at a disadvantage against a freelancer who is prepared to offer spec work.)
And then it depends on what kind of person you are. To some, "Time is Money.." and to others maybe the joy of giving is reward in itself. So yes, it is a personal choice.
Once you have established credibility and have good portfolio examples and great feedback, there is less reason to have to prove yourself and you can negotiate a 'no spec work' policy with your prospective employer. And it should be relatively easy to accomplish in this case.
Personally, I say throw in some free work, within reason, while you build a reputation. Later on, it's up to you.
And yes, I know .. we're not in the real world :)
answered May 13 '11 at 22:03