Working for Free as a Newbie: Is it Ever Worth it?

A lot of new businesses end up providing their products or services free of charge, as a way of gaining name recognition and potential paying business down the road. But, is this opportunity or exploitation? As Naya of the National Freelancers Union points out, “you can’t pay your bills with exposure and experience.”

Is there a way to take the upper hand in such a situation, and negotiate from a position of strength rather than weakness? Take a look at Naya’s article, which has some interesting and useful suggestions for getting more than “exposure” out of a free gig.

 

Working for Free as a Newbie: Is it Ever Worth it?
by Naya the Creative of the National Freelancers Union

You’ve been designing/painting/consulting/writing code/underwater basket weaving for years. Maybe you’re self-taught or maybe you’ve taken some classes. Either way, you have skills. And, if you do say so yourself, you’ve gotten pretty damn good at what you’re doing. But, since you’ve never charged actual money, and you have no idea how to get clients for a new business, you’re feeling a little insecure.

You don’t have a portfolio, or case studies, or past clients to show for your skillset. And even though all of your friends keep telling you, like, every day, to go out on your own and start a business, none of them have any experience in how to get clients. And yeah, while you’re glad that they’re so supportive of you, you don’t actually know what to do now. #Pressure

Because, even though you’re really talented, you don’t know how to get clients for a new business when you’ve never had clients.

Read the rest of this article.

Ahead of the Curve

This may not be the happiest news in the world, but it’s part and parcel of what we deal with as a nation. Welcome to the world of the independent contractor, which may be almost half of us by 2020. We already know the lifestyle. It’s nice to know that at least some media outlets are starting to report on this.

From The Boston Globe:

The gig economy is coming. You probably won’t like it.

Say goodbye to salaries, health insurance, and vacation days. Forty percent of America’s workforce could be freelance by 2020.

By Brandon Ambrosino  

KAGE YAMI is a ninja for hire.

For the past four years, the 27-year-old Newton resident has worked as a professional stunt performer for films and TV shows being made in the Boston area, like Ghostbusters, set for release this summer. Sometimes work takes him to New York. Sometimes California. Sometimes he models. Basically, he says, he takes on “whatever gig comes my way.”

 Yami is one of a growing number of workers participating in the “gig economy,” the hip-sounding term used to describe those Americans who make their livings in nontraditional ways — nontraditional meaning “in ways not limited to a 9-to-5 job” or, framed in less optimistic terms, “in ways that don’t usually offer health insurance.”

According to a 2014 study commissioned by the Freelancers Union, 53 million Americans are independent workers, about 34 percent of the total workforce. A study from Intuit predicts that by 2020, 40 percent of US workers will fall into this category.

Read the rest of this article.

Then feel free to chime in yourself. What do you think? Any ideas for stabilizing the coming independent workforce tsunami? What would you like to see by way of a sustainable social safety  net? In case you didn’t know, the independent workforce is now about 1/3 of the US economy. The same statistic holds true of independents in Arlington, Mass.

The comments section awaits you!

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