Quit Asking Free Design Work

I've lost count of how many times people have hit me up for free work. Sometimes they don't directly ask me for free work either. They propose meeting up or want to trade and somehow it ends up with me doing work for them (or even paying them!) and me not getting poop in return. These people are what I like to call mooches.

Don't be a mooch.

I get it. You're just starting out.  Your budget is small or non-existent and you need something done you can't do yourself. Been there! But, this doesn't entitle you to free services or mean that you should hit someone up for "coffee" and try and get some free work done too.


5 reasons why asking for free work is hurting you in the long run.

Even if you get some free work done. All from a designers perspective.

1. Frankly, it is an insult.

It's like saying - "you're not worth the price you charge". If you can't afford hiring someone, it's very simple - start saving. Your presence over a cup of coffee is wonderful but not wonderful enough to work for free. Hiring a designer is an investment and it's completely worthwhile. 

The only time I have ever offered free work was if I was pitching to a brand that I loved and it would boost me to the next level to take them on. If you're just starting out, you probably don't have that... yet. You'll get there but don't insult people along the way.

2. You look like you think you're the exception to the rule.

Just because your idea is awesome or you're super fun to hang out with doesn't mean a designer shouldn't get paid for their work. I'm sure you'll tell them that you are forever grateful but that doesn't mean you aren't a mooch. None of us are the exception. We all have to work our asses off to get anywhere in life. 

3. You're making it awkward.

The fact of the matter is that saying "no" whether it's design work or meeting up for coffee is hard to do. No one wants to let someone down. Saying no is hard. I promise you that even if a designer, photographer or creative of any kind agrees to doing something for free, they would rather be paid. They would rather you support them and pay what others are paying for their services and what they believe they are worth. They don't want to tell you no or let you down. Don't make it awkward. 

4. You're burning bridges.

Although you may feel like you're building a relationship with a designer and you promise you're going to promote them on all your social platforms, that's not their perspective. They may even tell you - "it's totally okay" or be very "chill" about it. You are now a burden to them and from the designers perspective you are tarnishing the relationship. I've stopped working and engaging with the mooches in my life. 

5. Do you want to work for free?

What's the golden rule? Treat people the way you want to be treated? Yep! That's it. What if your boss came to you tomorrow and said - "I need this, this and this done but you're not going to get paid to do it." - would you be cool with that? 

Moral of the story - don't be a mooch.