Why and When you shouldn’t work for FREE

You’d think its a no brainer, but a lot of people seem to want to work for free these days..these include bloggers, vloggers, someone getting something for nothing and feeling obliged to work for free in return, charity gigs, people who are scammed, working on festivals in return for tickets, people starting out etc..

Anyone working in the creative arts and entertainment business will tell you that its almost a novelty to be offered money these days. We need to stand up to this.

I have been working at the for almost 20 years and people still sometimes don’t want to pay me. You wouldn’t get that in other industries. This sucks COCK and BALLS. I know I’m not alone. Very often you get caught out and next thing, you’re doing something for free against your will.

Imagine not paying the bouncer, the barman or the plumber or the banker. The list goes on. You get my drift.

There are times you can and should work for free ie. your own blog, collaborations with other actors/artists/filmmakers/musicians etc where you KNOW you’re working for free and some charity or personal projects, but here’s a few things you should know about working for nothing:

  1. A wise and succsessful man once told me..’If they don’t pay you, they don’t value you.’ This is true in many cases.
  2. Working for free out of self promotion or trying to get noticed means you don’t think you’re good enough to get paid and therefore you’re not sending out the right message.
  3. By working for free you are not just devaluing your own work, but that of others in your industry. If you work for free, others will be expected to work for free or for less.
  4. Quality suffers. I’ve seen it, especially in media where articles written by non journalists to promote themselves are often shit, not subjective and boring. This also sucks balls.
  5. If you work for a large company and they tell you they don’t have the money, see who’s at the top. More than likely this person will be a billionaire, so if there’s no money in this industy, then why the hell are they involved?
  6. Be wary of novelty jobs or charity gigs. People working for charities generally pay themselves handsomely. I’ve done both of these, so try to distinguish if its a person asking you – or a company. Also figure out how much work you will get out of this- will hanging up art at a festival or doing a free gig really get you that many more gigs..??! If not. then don’t bother.
  7. Never assume anything. Once you get a job ASK ‘HOW MUCH AM I BEING PAID??’ Don’t wait till you’ve done the job. Then it’s already too late. I’ve been caught out here a few times. Recently I stupidly thought I’d get paid the same for a job I was paid 10 years ago… what an idiot. I then learnt that I only get half..now that everything is twice as expensive. Makes sense….???!
  8. Internships. I did an unpaid internship early in my career. I couldn’t afford one now. This was the 90s. If someone offers you an unpaid internship, say you need some money. If they can’t give you anything at all..you may not get that much out of it.
  9. So you’re starting out in photography or music or journalism and you want people to see your work or see you perform. I get it. But I was paid for my first article, my first photography job and my entertainment night..I’ve also not been paid for other stuff, so don’t fear. But I do believe that   if its worthy of being printed /and or the audience ilke it then you deserve to be paid.
  10. I know its more fun than most jobs, but people will use that against you. So just repeat- This is not a hobby, this is my career. Pay me motherfuckers. Thanks but I can’t pay my €38K rent for my shithole bedsit to my landlord with a free pulled pork bap and a craft beer.


My next piece will be on NOT getting paid ENOUGH.. because of …’cutbacks’..