Freelancing ain’t free, or is it?

Whether you freelance for a living or to earn a few extra bucks, the idea of working for free doesn't sit well with most designers. Running a business is hard, and time is money. So, when is it ever OK to work for Free?

The following article was originally produced by Computer Art. We are respectfully posting an excerpt of this article since we feel it can be beneficial to you.

Freelancing: Is it Ever OK to Work for Free?

Sometimes, says Lizzie Mary Cullen, it’s absolutely fine! But most of the time it’s not

If someone puts a gun to your pet rabbit and says: “Do me a free drawing, or the bunny gets it”, then it’s okay to work for free. When I was starting out I did a job for an actor/musician. He has over a million Twitter followers, so it was pretty good in terms of exposure. I was proud of the work I did. However he’s a friend, and I’m not sure that I would have agreed if I didn’t know him.

There’s a key difference between doing stuff for free for yourself, and giving free shit to a massive corporate client. In 2010 I held my first solo show in aid of The Big Issue. I gave away all proceeds, because I wanted to. I didn’t approach another illustrator or artist and say, “Hey! Give me some free stuff to give away!” It was mine, and I wanted to do it.

If you’re approached about a job and it’s for charity, what every illustrator has to understand is that people working in charities get paid. All the employees, the printers who print the promotional material and the graphic designer who puts together the promotional material get paid. Everyone. Except, of course, a young illustrator who doesn’t know better.

Read More


  • Praverb

    How do you deal with people that try to bait you with the exposure line?

  • lightamatch

    I know! Unless you have a master plan or an interior motive with regards to the (free) project, I’d simply tell them, “nah, it’s not enough”.

  • Praverb

    Great point