It's Still Work if You Don't Get Paid

A difficult situation that independents, such as myself, are faced with constantly is the opportunity to work for free.

The scenario is goes something like this: "We'd like you to [speak, write, review, promote] for our [web site, talk show, keynote]. In return for your efforts, we'll provide exposure for you."

Sometimes I do this. I have friends in the business who I support. For example, we're not paid to guest host on This Week in Photo, but I like Frederick Van Johnson, and I believe he respects me. And over the years, he's tried to promote me the best he can. So in that case, it's entrepreneur helping entrepreneur.

But big businesses are a different matter. They sometimes approach me because I have built a platform and a reputation, and they believe that might help them sell their product. The good ones will put their products in my hands. The cheap ones want me to promote them with nothing in return.

Wait, check that. They will provide me with exposure. Well, I have exposure already. That's why they want me.

The thing is, free work is still work. Whether I get paid or not, I still have to prepare, articulate, and spend the time to participate. Because the reality is, I always have my reputation to protect, regardless of the financial arrangement.

In the end, it comes down to respect, doesn't it? I very much appreciate those businesses that respect my work. I will do a lot for them. Because that's the attitude I want to promote as we all try to move forward.