Why You Should Never Work For Exposure

I know in this post, I talked about getting exposure. That’s the kind of exposure you get when you create something great and the right people saw it without it costing you a dime.

The exposure I’m about to talk about in this article has to do with doing work for someone for free.

I had a chance to talk to a young man that wants to get into video/media production.

His skills were at the beginner level but there’s a lot of potential in him.

He told me one day someone with a lot of influence wanted him to make a video for his company.

Great opportunity, right?

Well, there’s more to the story.

The influencer wanted the young video editor to do the work for free and he would pay him in exposure.

Like most young people that don’t know, he said he’d agreed to the work.

He worked probably 24 hours total (16 hours filming and eight editing).

After finishing, he attempted to keep in contact with the influencer. He wanted the influencer to promote him to his over 500k followers for that sweet exposure.

What did the influencer do?

He blocked the editor.

To be honest, if I was in that influencer’s position, I would have blocked him also.

Influencers and people with money love when they get suckers. They really love those that have a degree and think they’re above the rest.

Doing work for “exposure” is a rookie mistake.

Why do people think work for “exposure” only is a good idea?

Many are taught exposure is a good thing to have from those with “power.”

The unfortunate thing about the exposure trap is those with said “power” know how to effictively use it.

Either they were once the young man and decided to take advantage of the situation when they gained experience.

Or they were taught by someone how to do such a thing.

Either way, the young man I talked to learned a harsh lesson the hard way.

When doing work for “exposure”, ten times out of ten, the people that see the work done will more than likely not care who made the work.

If someone does care, they will contact the person for free advice.

It’s very rare for someone to watch the finished product and give the creator a call.

How to deal with people that want your work

Years ago, I was in the young man’s position.

Unlike him, I got paid for my work.

What did I do? I was upfront with payment.

If someone with money and/or enough influence wants you to make something for them, let them know they will have to pay.

If they’re not willing to pay, say you won’t work with them.

State your price and never give a discount. Coming across as desperate makes them lose respect for you.

When I was asked to develop a video for a blockchain conference, I told the person in charge my price.

They wanted me to do it for less. As a result, I walked away.

The moment I walked away, they sent me a message and said they will pay me the full amount.

Not only did I go above and beyond what they wanted, I was asked to work for them multiple times.

One sure fire way to beat the “exposure” curse is to not only have great work on your portfolio, you also need to make great work for your clients.

The only reasons you should work for free

This may sound like a contradiction to the entire post but this is very important.

The only reason one should do free work is the following:

  • You’re just starting out and need to build your portfolio
  • There’s someone you’re a fan of and you want to build a relationship with them
  • You’re doing an internship
  • They’re your friend, they’re starting out, and you want them to do well

Never do anything out of the “goodness of your heart.” Sad to say but in this game, one has to have a killer instinct to make money.

Nothing in the world is free. The world isn’t nice either. Why should you sacrifice your time and skills for someone that won’t do the same for you?

Pour closure

If you have enough experience under your belt and you’re asked to do work for exposure, tell whomever to kick rocks and keep doing what you need to do.

There is ZERO reason for anyone with experience to work with influencers for free.

If an influencer that makes money is too cheap to pay you for your services, they’re not someone you want to work with.

Keep this in mind when you create something brand new.

Peace & love!
Shaun