I just read this VERY good piece by photographer Tony Sleep about being asked to work for nothing.
Here is a brief bit from it that really resonated with me:
You see I don’t want your stinking “exposure”, I want mutually beneficial, productive relationships with clients. I try to behave with integrity, honesty and fairness, and I expect clients will do likewise. Exposure is the end of that process, not a means. Similarly with bylines. I don’t require applause earned by being a sucker. If free matters more than good, ask someone else.
Like most people I work because I need to pay bills and support myself, my work and my family. The fact that I love what I do is why I have spent 40 years persevering whilst going without stuff most people take for granted.
Vocation is not an invitation to disrespect.
The emphasis is mine, but that last sentence REALLY resonated with me.
This is why I have a hard time asking folks to test knit, or sample knit for very small money. The money for knitters is small because the design fees I receive are INSANELY small, so I knit most of my own samples.
I just finished 2 hats for a friend who’s publishing a book. She assumed, and I have to admit I didn’t work hard to correct her, that I’d do each for $100. Each hat was at least 2 days of work, the fee should have been at least $250, but because she’s a friend I caved and said, “Sure!”
This was my own choice, I made it based on a previous relationship and I happened to have two hat patterns that I was toying with at the point that she contacted me.
You see, I can justify it ten ways from Sunday, but the truth is that if the editors, publishers, photographers, models were asked to work on a book or magazine for $5/hour, which is what this worked out to, they’d laugh and walk away.