“You die from exposure.” This is a saying you’ll often hear in the industry. And it’s true. Working for free doesn’t pay the bills. But does working for exposure have it’s place? Sure. Sometimes it’s worth it. But when?
Reviews and blogging are a great way to gain exposure for your brand without committing to extra work. These jobs are usually done in trade. You review for someone else and they review for you. Both parties get the benefit and you both boost each others brands. The social media audiences of each of you see both posts and you both reap the rewards.
This blog is an example of that. I offer a blog share to the Stitch Sprouts designers. We have an editorial calendar with topics listed. The designers are invited to write on these topics and I link to their posts in my blog post. You’ll see that Jen Lucas is often mentioned as she takes advantage of this opportunity quite often. Speaking of Jen Lucas, her post on Working for Exposure is quite good. She talks about what might or might not motivate her to take a job for free—make sure you check it out!
Designing or working for charity is also a good way to spread your brand. This can help boost your name and your cause. It helps you raise money for a charity you feel strongly about and at the same time helps build your brand.
Some designers do this by having sales from patterns donated to a favorite charity, by donating finished goods to an auction, or by volunteering at events.
Often shop hops and guild events are looking for donations for door prizes. Offering a kit or pattern as a prize can help to get your name out there and help build a relationship with yarn shops and guilds. It’s usually a minimal commitment on your part and can go a long way to advertising your product. Everyone likes getting a prize.
Pretty much everything else falls into the sorry, but no thanks category. That’s not to say there are no exceptions, but usually there are not. If a company asks you to work for free, you need to ask yourself what the benefits will be for you. Will your brand be boosted as much as theirs? Since no money will be issued, what other non-tangible benefits will you gain? If it’s worth it, then go for it. If it’s not, don’t be afraid to say “no thank you.”