Working for free?
Now that I'm a freelancer I have to be a bit careful how I spend my time. To put it bluntly, I need to have enough billable days each month, or I'll be in financial trouble.
Yet I still get people asking me to do things when they haven't got any budget to pay me. I don't mind people asking, as long as they don't mind me saying no, and as long as they don't make it difficult for me to say no, and as long as they're suitably apologetic or grovelling when they ask me to work for no pay.
This week I had an MW phone me up asking me to spend a day tutoring MW candidates on wine journalism, and how to write better [he did say he was desperate]. He's a nice guy and I'd love to have helped him out, but I have a lot of deadlines this week (paying work), and it would have been quite a task rearranging everything, preparing material, and then doing the gig. I asked early on in the conversation whether there would be a fee, and was told perhaps a bottle of wine or two, which isn't much good for paying the mortgage.
I feel bad asking for money, and I know that a lot of people give their time freely to help with the IMW. But these people are often salaried. Or they are MWs with a sense of duty towards the MW 'club'. Or they aren't busy, or have plenty of money already.
I know from experience that non-paying gigs don't bring out the best in me; I say yes to them, then find it puts pressure on my paying work, and I end up not doing such a good job with them because I can't justify spending enough time on preparation. It's generally much better all round if I charge my normal day rate (£400, which is pretty competitive) and then give the client my full attention.
I'm not saying that I won't do freebies, but people need to realize exactly what they are asking for when they expect a service but have no budget.