Free is Bad, It Just Is. Mostly.

Over on the Black Star Rising blog, John Harrington takes a look at 12 ideas about why shooting for free is a good idea and concludes – not surprisingly – that they are all myths.

If I worked pretty hard at it, I might come up with a few situations where I wouldn’t charge a client (pro bono work for a charity I supported or a licensing package that let me handle resales of high-value content). But, really, there’s little in Harrington’s article I’ll contest. Pin this one to the cork board over your phone.

Mark E. Johnson

2 Responses

  1. I saw this, too. It’s funny how many responses to these photo biz posts are from semi-pros who still just don’t get it. However, some of the responses make an interesting point: Often, being cheap is worse than being free.

    I can understand how doing SOME jobs for free can be beneficial – as long as you receive something valuable in return. Referrals can be valuable, as long as your reference testifies to the quality of your work and not your free or cut-rate services. Perhaps you might swap work for advertising.

    Work done for charities and some non-profit businesses may be eligible for tax write-offs, too. Just make sure you send an invoice stating the full value of the job so that amount can be considered as a charitable contribution. You can do the same for non-charities, too, and write off the amount of the invoice as a promotional expense.

    And always retain your copyright for future sales.

    Do some research and find out what the true value of your work is. It’s a deep hole to dig out of when you build a reputation on low prices or free work. Consider the quality of your clients, rather than the quantity.

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