“Great game…please make it free.”
“Lots of amazing features…I will rate it 5 stars if you make it free again.”
Check out the reviews of any paid application or game in your Windows/Android/Apple app store and you’ll notice one thing in common. Yes, you guessed that right. The irksome ‘please make it free’ comments. Want proof? Just type in “please make it free” in your browser and hit search. (As of today, Google returns approximately 24,00,000 results).
I wonder what goes through the minds of the people who write these comments. Would they say the same thing in person in a brick and mortar store? And if they want an app or game for free, why don’t they browse the free section? Developing any piece of software often entails blood, toil, tears, and sweat. It is certainly reasonable if the people behind it want to be paid for it, right? It’s shocking how creativity and freelancing are so undervalued that most people feel they are entitled to freebies. Even though I know it’s not me, it’s them, this kind of behavior can really do a number on one’s self-esteem. And oh, the pressure to say yes because many peers are doing/recommending it is so intense!
Sadly, I know this from first-hand experience: I frequently get unpaid writing “opportunities” in my inbox. you’d think i’d get used to it, right? Nope. It feels like a kick to the stomach every single time.
Here’s one LinkedIn message which I got recently:
Do you think I replied to this guy? You know I did, even though it was after a lot of back and forth. I wondered if it was worth it, but I simply had to.
Of course, he didn’t agree with anything I said. And although I expected that, I still felt majorly let down. Why can’t people treat others just as they would like to be treated…at least in the professional world? It isn’t that hard, is it? If they expect to make money when they work, why do they think freelancers and creatives will be a-okay with not making any?
It’s every freelancer’s responsibility to refuse to work for free. Because irrespective of how much exposure or experience is promised, you are being exploited. Even if you don’t need the money, you are lowering the bar for freelancers everywhere. And not everyone can survive without making some cash. No amount of amazing exposure or experience can be used in place of money.
I wouldn’t want to be the reason someone is struggling to pay the rent or eat three meals. Would you? Besides, isn’t work without pay SLAVERY? I rest my case.
PS Gig economy is on the rise. Check out these statistics and see for yourself.
Have you ever been asked to do a gig or job for free? How did you deal with the situation? Share your story in the comments below.