5 Reasons to Never Work for Exposure

Photo by Daria Nepriakhina on Unsplash

Recently, I told a publication that I just couldn’t work at their rates. With how much work each article needed for this national magazine, I was making near minimum wage. After taxes, I was definitely making below it.

The publication’s response? Do it for your portfolio.

Here’s where their argument fell short and why (or when) you should never do work for your portfolio’s sake.

1. You have more work than you know what to do with.

This is where I currently find myself. I’m admittedly a workaholic and I’m constantly pitching and taking on new clients. It’s a problem. I currently have way too much work on my plate and I’m working way more than I want to. If you’re in the same position, why do something that’s not going to make you the rate you deserve for all that effort?

2. You need to pay your bills.

You could, though, be in the other camp. You could have too little work and you’re struggling to make ends meet. In those cases, why not focus your energy on what’s going to pay you top dollar for your time, versus devoting a large chunk of time to something that’s not paying you well? While you may want that exposure, it’ll never pay your bills.

3. You may not actually need help improving your portfolio.

When a client tells you to do work to improve your portfolio, that assumes they know your goals for your portfolio. Maybe you do some food writing on the side, but what you really want to do is work on marketing copy for tech startups. A byline from Food & Wine isn’t going to help your portfolio.

4. Most of the time, the client is bluffing.

This is the oldest trick in the book. It’s how companies get interns to work for free. “Experience.”

Please. Value yourself more, because the client isn’t doing it. If they did value you, they’d pay you more.

5. A robust portfolio isn’t everything.

It’s true! This all ties into your freelancer goals. Is your goal to become a renowned journalist with your name in all the top pubs in your niche? Then, by all means, do something for exposure.

If, however, your goal is to make more money, in less time, while working for yourself (as it is mine), who cares about your portfolio? You can make more writing for the little guys than you can the NYT (and that’s a promise).

Holly Riddle is a freelance travel, lifestyle and food journalist and copywriter who dabbles in fiction. She can be reached at holly.ridd@gmail.com. Her website is hollyriddle.org and her Twitter handle is @TheHollyRiddle.

--

--

--

Content creator, full-time freelancer. Passionate about non-traditional careers. Published thousands of non-fiction articles and not one word of fiction.

Love podcasts or audiobooks? Learn on the go with our new app.

Recommended from Medium

Why I Quit My Job to Become a Freelance Writer

Getting Clients Emails for Coaches

Using Bitcoin as a Freelancer

How to Deal with a Clueless Client

The Shortest Guide to Launching Your Freelance Consulting Business

Why Freelancers Should Think Twice About Providing ‘Test Content’ for Companies

The World is my Office

From Freelancer to CEO of a Microsoft Gold Communications Partner

Get the Medium app

A button that says 'Download on the App Store', and if clicked it will lead you to the iOS App store
A button that says 'Get it on, Google Play', and if clicked it will lead you to the Google Play store
Holly Riddle

Holly Riddle

Content creator, full-time freelancer. Passionate about non-traditional careers. Published thousands of non-fiction articles and not one word of fiction.

More from Medium

What we can learn from 1960s Scandinavian Film to better understand Human-Computer Interaction?

What are the differences between classic and professional bathroom design?

I Bought The First 5 Things From TikTok Ads

Nic stands in the center of the frame holding a phone with the TikTok logo on it in his right hand, and in his left hand he holds a variety of different products.

“LUNCHTIME LAUGHS” THAT BOOST PRODUCTIVITY, CREATIVITY AND RELIEVE STRESS