Freelance Reflections 6/27: Freelancing for Free? Yes or No?

Recently I was approached to do a volunteer freelance project for a small charity trying to update and redesign their website.  I accepted and offered to do it completely for free. WHAT?! I know. Free. People said I was crazy, that I should have charged a nominal fee. As a first year freelancer I was immediately conflicted about this decision after the initial response I’d received from others about it. 

It got me thinking about how others might feel when asked to complete a project for nothing. After all, the adage, “Time is Money” is definitely true for freelancers. The more we work the more make and the sooner we can increase our rates as we collect more and more experience. 

In the end I stuck to my guns and completed the project for free and came to the conclusion that really it’s no one’s business if I offer to lend my skills out to a cause that I believe in for nothing. In fact, I did get paid but not in the way that most people expected. In personal satisfaction.

I know, I can’t live off of satisfaction and I wouldn’t recommend anyone offering to volunteer their services if they don’t have enough income to take care of themselves but once I’d finished the project I felt great. So often in freelancing we’re called to complete tasks for clients and we don’t really get to pick and choose who we write for and what we write. This charity happened to be something very personal to me and the opportunity to help them and make a difference is something I don’t come across often. 

Also, the gratitude expressed by the Director of the charity was extremely motivating. They were so grateful for the help, they gave me a fantastic testimonial, and I know for a fact that they will be getting in touch with me in the future for other work and recommending me to people as well. Good press is always good to get, and when it comes with feeling like a hero it’s hard to miss the money I would have made had I charged them. This will open doors to other opportunities down the line and establish professional relationships that will surely help my business grow. 

So Freelancing for Free? I say yes but depending on the project and what you’re being asked to do. Also setting up a boundary for revisions is essential. My maximum is three for paying clients but for pro bono assignments I would probably only allow two rounds of free revisions. After that I say my hourly rate kicks in which is a good way to keep pro bono assignments from dragging on for forever.

What do we think? Have you had any bad or good freelancing projects where you worked pro bono? 


6 Freelance Writing Websites You Need To Know About

I’m a firm believer in getting your foot in the door. As a first year freelancer that means you may have to take projects that don’t pay fantastically so that you can get the street cred necessary to build your freelancing business. A great way of doing this is by getting involved in some online freelancing websites and developing the habit of seeking out new clients regularly. Once Write Away Freelance LLC officially opened it’s doors in March all I wanted was to get out there and build my portfolio and gain experience with the whole three step process (i.e. 1. Find Clients 2. Write Stuff 3. Profit). Here are some notables that you should look into when you start writing as a freelancer:

1.) – This website is your best friend. Not only do they have TONS of resources available, they also post jobs, tell you know when magazines are asking for submissions and have regular articles and job leads that are invaluable to freelancers.

 2.) – Great for newbies to the freelancing gig. They have good pay rates for first timer’s  they pay on time, there’s a lot of job diversity, the opportunity to become Favorited and receive specialized work from clients who like you, you can advance and become experts in certain criteria after a certain time, it’s great and the application process isn’t that grueling. They will ask you to do a grammar test, they will ask for writing samples but by and large their  process is pretty pain-free.

 3.)– Also great for newcomers, rates are a little low for my liking but I started with them when Write Away Freelance had JUST started and now I’ve got a regular client through them for work that’s pretty easy regular money in an industry that I want to get into more closely so I’d say give them a try too. They do require a writing test which isn’t too scary and expect to learn a lot about SEO there, they’re big on having their writer’s integrate SEO keywords which is a great place to start so you can learn about SEO without having to be an expert going in. Nice amount of job diversity as well.

4.) – I’m a firm believer in do-it-myself crafts but it’s nice to have someone to guide me through using tools so I don’t saw off a vital bit (i.e….thumb…or leg). Freelancing is much the same way, and one of the best resources that I’ve found for first time freelancers is Freelancers Union. I make it a point to read their e-newletters when they come out, they are always answering a question I have, or maybe one I hadn’t considered.  They also can get you insurance and other benefits so it’s worth checking them out if you’re looking for a resource for that.

 5.) – Specifically, their job board here is active and there are a lot of posts for people looking for web content, content curation, social media specialists, really anything related to web writing. I’ve gotten some good leads from here. Unfortunately it’s not really helpful for freelancers in other disciplines.

 6.) Journalismjobscom – Another one primarily geared towards writers. I happen to love this website because there is a tremendous amount of job diversity here from PR to Non-Profits and a lot more. So if you want to gain experience in a certain niche area this is a good place to look.


Anyone else have freelance resources? Post them in the comments below!