When To Work For Free And When Not To 

It may be difficult to get your first break as a graphic designer; there are many other people out there looking to make a living as a graphic designer that it can be very tempting to start by giving away your services to try and build your portfolio. After all, where is the harm in it? You will get some exposure right? And with a bit of luck potential clients may stumble across your work and be wowed by your abilities.

Sadly it doesn’t work like that; when you set your price point as “free,” it’s very difficult to get a client to pay you anything for your work. You’ll certainly never be able to win work that pays a living wage working at that level.You may win business like designing ten company logos each at $100 a piece, but that’s a lot of work, and it may take you three days. By the time you work out the time spent (even working at very fast production assuming no research and endless fresh ideas), you’ll discover that you’re working for about $15 an hour. This is much less than what most graphic designers earn, almost anywhere in the world. You must create value for your services and help clients to understand why they should pay you a decent fee for helping them build their businesses. There are a few limitations to the rule of “working for free, ” and it’s worth noting them.

Graphic Design Services Marketing
Yes, you may want to offer website design, logo design, and other services to some clients and not charge a penny for your work. You will do it so that you can promote your business; this is the same as any other form of marketing. Your time is money, and you should invest it to create revenue streams. Essentially, there are two benefits of offering your services for free here, the backlinks and the expert status that the actual promotion delivers and the secondary benefit that you can demonstrate to your clients that even your “free” work is worth stealing.

Forum Marketing
Another reasonable strategy for building backlinks and improving your graphic design website rankings is writing short articles in graphic design forums with your links included. This is another element of marketing, and it’s not really “free” work. It’s work that’s designed to get you paid by real clients.

In fact, the only time you should be working without getting rewarded for is when you’re building your brand image, to thank your most valuable customers, to gain exposure, to gain experience and as part of your marketing efforts. However, if there’s no demonstrable return for your time and effort, don’t do it. A well-designed logo, brochure or a banner for a single company is unlikely to deliver much in the way of results, and those places where it would deliver results will almost always pay for your services.

Marketing is not working for anything; it’s there to build your brand. Giving your content away just to increase space in your portfolio is a guarantee that no-one will value your work, after all, you don’t.