You might be afraid to work for free because you have bills to pay, but if you are trying to break into a field you are passionate about you are going to have to make sacrifices. You might have to work a second job on the side. You might have to spend a little less on groceries for a few months. However, your results will be worth all of the extra effort.
When you work for free, you are getting paid with exposure. You are getting your name put out there. You are showing the world your abilities. You never know who will stumble across the articles or artwork you upload online. An unpaid job could be a stepping stone that leads you toward success.
Unfortunately, a lot of employers will not hire you unless you have experience. They want assurance you know what you are doing. If you start out by working for free, once you are ready to move onto bigger and better things you will have plenty of samples to include with your resume so employers get a taste of your style. The more unpaid work you complete now, the higher your chances are of getting paid in the future.
When you work for free, you are developing connections within the industry. You are networking. You are getting to know important people in your field who could help you work your way to a paid position. If you develop close relations with respected artists, then you can use them as references. You can ask them to promote your work on social media. You can ask them to collaborate on a project with you. You can utilize them to help further your own career and then you can return the favor once you make it as big as them.
When you work for free, it is a learning experience. You are learning to meet deadlines. You are learning to complete projects instead of jumping to the next one without finishing the first. You are learning what other people like and dislike about your work through comment sections. Even though you aren’t making any money, you are still learning valuable lessons that will help you create the best art possible.
When you work for free, you will gain crucial experience in your field that you would not be able to get by skimming a textbook or reading an article online. You will learn how the industry works firsthand. You will meet other people who love the craft as much as you do. You will have the chance to interact with people who share similar interests, people who can become your mentors. They can give you precious career advice that gives you an edge over your competition.
When you work for free, you know you are interested in your field for all of the right reasons. You know it isn’t about the money. It’s about the cause. It’s about pursuing your passion. If you are doing what you love, then the absence of a paycheck won’t seem like that big of a deal because you are having a good time anyway. You are following your dreams. You are listening to your heart over your head.
Eventually, once you fine-tune your skills and have a long list for your resume, you should not settle for the minimum amount of money because you have proven yourself worthy of a paycheck. However, when you are first starting out in an industry, you shouldn’t be afraid to work for free. The work you publish without pay could open doors for you that are priceless.