The Problem with the Term "Working for Free"

This post is from 2016.

Because, in most cases, it’s technically not for free.

Free is when you do something in exchange for absolutely nothing. If someone lets you in the club, that is getting in for free. If I give you my chips, then I’ve given you my chips for free.

If I share my resources with you in exchange for you helping me with a project - that is not free. That is an exchange of value. A barter. Not free.

I hear people alllll the time say they don’t want to work for free. I get that. I completely get it. I understand that MOST times we want money in exchange for our services. But most of the time, that same amount of money wouldn’t be able to buy you what you will gain from the experience. 

Right before I graduated college, I started working for a dope style blogger. At the time, I wanted to be a photographer so I took her pictures and then graduated to her assistant. I wasn’t monetarily paid for the work I did for a long time.


  • She taught me how to use Photoshop.
  • She taught me how to create a sponsorship deck.
  • She taught me how to manage a team.
  • She taught me how to maintain professional relationships.
  • She taught me how to take criticism.
  • She taught me how to be a girl boss. 

I couldn’t have bought those experiences if she paid me. 

Working with her introduced me to someone who introduced me to someone who put me in the television game. I couldn’t have bought that relationship. 

I’m just trying to present a new perspective. Now, at this age, of course I work to make more and more money but there are still times when I will do work for someone who may not have the means to bless my bank account BUT they have relationships that will be beneficial to me and what I’m doing. 

Working for free is only working for free if you gain absolutely nothing. If there’s someone you’ve always wanted to work but they don’t have the means to pay you, figure out how what they have or who they know can move you towards your goals. Make it work for you. Don’t just turn something down because it’s not financially rewarding. If you keep your mind open, it can be more rewarding in ways you would never be able to buy.

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