Will people ever stop asking professionals to work for free?

Richard Charpentier Notes from Rich 1 Comment

Short answer, probably not.

Once again I find myself writing about folks who want you to work for free.  Over the years I’ve had bands ask me to photograph them because they love my work, but can’t pay me.  These same fellas get paid when they’re playing, and it’s not even their full time job.  I’ve had other folks who have wanted web work over the years for their new startup business, so of course they couldn’t pay.  And there have even been people who know my background in wireless engineering, and they always want me to diagnose their computers or network issues….for free.

So when I saw the following article I cheered inside.  Another large company playing the “contest for your work” game, trying to get free work out of graphic designers.  Hey, those graphic designers love what they do, so they should do it for free, right?

The article, linked here, is about a graphic designer who said “NO” to the folks over at Showtime (you know, the cable network that has no cash flow whatsoever).  His response went viral, as it should.  Unfortunately, for his one response I promise you hundreds of folks who jumped at the chance to work for free and get themselves that valuable commodity, “Exposure.”  Someday I think the NASDQ should start trading “Exposure.”  There’s a new ponzi scheme for the guys on Wall Street!

From the article….

“The whole thing is just unethical. You would never cold call a bunch of licensed electricians and ask them to do the lighting for an event like this for free. You certainly wouldn’t ask them to hashtag their ‘submission’ on Twitter to drive traffic to your website. To call it a contest is a bit insulting. A contest is guessing how many jellybeans are in the jar so you can win all the jellybeans. … To participate in a contest like this as a working professional devalues the work of everyone.”

So everyone….seriously, stop discounting other people’s work (that’s what this boils down to).  I happily pay a plumber when I need their services, I don’t complain my Airstream mechanic charges $97.00 per hour, and I get the fact everyone thinks doctors and lawyers make way too much but we all need their services at one point or another.  You are good at what you do, other people are good at what they do.  Show a little respect, don’t ask for free work.

Comments 1

  1. Rich you started me laughing. I’ve seen and heard about many similar companies that are broke and need free services. I wonder if it is a new generation of art buyers who have grown up thinking anything on the web is free. As Getty and AFP just found out to the tune of $1.2M and their appeal rejected lifting stuff or using stuff without compensation can be very expensive. In this case the release that would be provided by Showtime for the winning image would be another hilarious read. Imagine the outcome if someone wins the contest, image/design is used, and the fight ends in a catastrophe where the image/design becomes priceless. Pity the poor artist. Hope they enjoy the peanuts on the flight.

Leave a Reply