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Do free work because you want the practice, or because you want something to refer back to, or because you like the client.
Don't do it for exposure.

Borrow a leaf from our designer friends who love to rail against "exposure". They get it worse, because for some reason clients seem to think they're just doodling pretty pictures. Check out clients from hell and you'll get the idea.

 

I just checked out the clients from hell website. Interesting stories. Where I am from there's been an increase of people making WordPress sites and promising to deliver products in less than two weeks. A lot of people operating the small businesses will opt for them as they charge very cheaply. This has led to quite a large number of them especially the not so tech-savvy to view systems development as easy and you just drag and drop items to create a website. putting developers in the "doodling pictures" stereotype like designers.

 

There's nothing wrong with that example, though. You can knock together a WP site in very little time if you use or lightly modify an off-the-shelf theme.

If that's all the clients need then suggesting something custom is overkill.

Thanks for the Insight Sinclair. Highly appreciated.

 

Only do projects for free that are for the greater good. Check out democracylab or Code for America. As a bonus, socially conscious projects are bonus points when you're looking for paid work. It's a win-win and you're not being guilted into helping some 'entrepreneur' look good.

 

I never thought of things from that perspective. Very interesting.

I'm from Nairobi, Kenya. I've found an alternative to code for America for my region, github.com/CodeForAfrica . This is a whole new and interesting way of looking at things.

Thanks!!

 

That's really cool! I haven't seen Code for Africa before, I'll make sure to spread that link as well. Good luck!

 

I don't think a developer should ever do work for exposure. If you want exposure contribute to open source projects.
If you are compelled to work for someone for free, at least do it for a charity organisation or non profit. Never do it for people who can afford to pay you.

 

Thank you.

Do you know any charity organizations or Non-profits that need developers?

 

Short answer: exposure doesn't pay my mortgage.

Longer answer:

Is the person/entity benefitting from my work making a profit? If so, then they can pay me.

Is the person/entity looking to make a profit from my work? If so, then they can pay me.

Is the person/entity approaching me and expecting work done by a certain time? If so, then they can pay me.

If the entity is non-profit, is the budget for things other than what the entity stands for as large or larger than the budget for what they stand for? If so, then they can pay me.

My unpaid work is done entirely at my discretion. I choose when and how much to work on with an unpaid project and how to prioritize it. Generally speaking, I also approach them, because 9 times out of 10, if I'm being approached by someone for "exposure" work, it's very likely an attempt to take advantage of me and my work.

 

What sort of projects do you think made you grow as a developer and what is the general relationship with the stakeholders of the unpaid projects you pick up? Do they expect a lot from you and start making outrageous demands midway through the project?

secondly,
which are some organizations you'd recommend working with?

 

What sort of projects do you think made you grow as a developer

My own projects and that of people that paid me (seriously, I learned a ton from doing work at various agencies, where -- for better or worse -- the salespeople tended to sell things the production team didn't actually have the current skills to deliver, so we were forced to pick them up on the fly). I can learn and grow without taking on work brought to me by someone with promises of exposure.

what is the general relationship with the stakeholders of the unpaid projects you pick up?

Depends on the project, but it's usually projects that I care about for one reason or another. Since they're usually super-small, I typically have had direct contact with the maintainer for some length of time and have gotten to know them quasi-personally.

Do they expect a lot from you and start making outrageous demands midway through the project?

Since I come to them to offer help, not usually. If they do, then I drop the relationship, respond that they can start paying me, or otherwise enforce my boundaries. Like I said, I take on unpaid projects in my own time and I have other obligations. If they want to try to monopolize my time, then I want compensated accordingly.

I consider this boundaries on my time and energy, which I encourage everyone to set and enforce. The whole "exposure" thing, I think, is a way for someone to try to overstep those boundaries and take advantage of us. It's up to us as makers to not let them.

which are some organizations you'd recommend working with?

Code for America is a good one if you want bigger named stuff. Generally, I like helping out on little projects and stuff I personally use, which are generally maintained by one person in their own spare time. You can probably find a number of options in the various things you use, too.

Code for America is a good one if you want bigger named stuff. Generally, I like helping out on little projects and stuff I personally use, which are generally maintained by one person in their own spare time. You can probably find a number of options in the various things you use, too.

I'll look into some open source projects that need maintainers. There's find collabs which is a platform for open source maintainers to look for collaborators.

I consider this boundaries on my time and energy, which I encourage everyone to set and enforce. The whole "exposure" thing, I think, is a way for someone to try to overstep those boundaries and take advantage of us. It's up to us as makers to not let them.

someone once told me to build their startup for them. Long story short we had a discussion over on discord and he even went to the extent of adding me to their workplace discord server. But we hadn't discussed payment. So when I raised the issue and it became clear he wouldn't pay, He gave me some philosophical BS and removed me from their server.
Needless to say, I learned my lesson quite hard.

 

I think it depends, if you're a broke college student who has the skills to create something functional and of standard design quality, charge. If you are not pressed for money but need something to showcase a new skill, create a component or work on a composite for free or something small scale for free to showcase that skill. Why not? You get the practice and real-world evidence to show you possess this skill. Working for free or not doesn't have to be an absolute. Regardless of what it is, whatever benefit you need, make sure you attain that. Don't just give work away just because your friend asked you to, that's a lack of respect for you time and skill.

 

hmm...from the responses above and what I can make out is that benefits come in many different ways? especially when starting.

It's not always about monetary compensation isn't it?
Some of these projects will also help you grow as a person right?

 

As a person trying to build a portfolio of projects I've done and in preparation for the "outside world" (just finishing campus), I'm often asked for work by people with statements like "Oh you are so young, why do you need the money for? This will get you so much exposure."

At times one can leap at this chance to validate themselves. But at what point do you put a stop to this?

Personally, I don't believe in free work anymore, given the amount of effort and passion devs put in their craft.

what's your take? should one take as many free gigs at first? and when should you stop giving services for free?

Classic DEV Post from Oct 15

So meetup.com is going to charge attendees in future - what's next for event organizers?

So meetup.com is going to charge attendees in future - what's next for event organizers?

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