Why freelancers shouldn't be afraid of working for free.

As a freelancer, potential clients are constantly trying to haggle your price down, sometimes as low as $0. It takes skill to sniff out the good opportunities from the ones that won't help your career at all.
  1. There is no guarantee of paid work.
    The couple of times I've taken unpaid work was when I didn't have anything else on my plate. I took the opportunity of quick-turnaround unpaid work to keep my skills sharp and maybe even learn a thing or two.
  2. Use unpaid work to build industry contacts.
    Get to know the people that you're working with for this unpaid project. Become friends with them. That way, they'll be more likely to recommend your name the next time they're looking for someone to operate a camera for their next film... And maybe this time you'll get some cash.
  3. Unpaid work is a great way to try something new.
    Sometimes with a paying client, you may not have the opportunity to try something you think would be really cool but the client deems to risky. With an non-paying client, you can do whatever you want because they haven't paid you anything, and if you fail, then there was no money on the line. Although, even if you failed, you would have learned how not to do it for the future.
  4. It's great for expanding the reach of your product.
    Imagine if you could reach a new audience with this project. That whole audience now becomes a list of potential clients all because they say your name on a video.
  5. In summary, always ask yourself this.
    "How does this project help my long term and short term goals?" If you take some serious time to consider this question, it will be a lot easier to say no to pointless free projects and yes to the ones that can help you down the line.