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Navicstein Rotciv
Navicstein Rotciv

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Stop working for free, Should you ever work for free as a developer?

In general, the obvious answer is NO, don't be fooled into doing free work based on promises it will pay off for you in the end.

I receive invitations to work for free Sometimes clients even expect me to pay for my own data -- While that business model may work for some people -- like those who want to create the next Facebook in town -- working for free usually doesn't pay off.

But let's explore this idea and have an open mind before reaching a decision.

What if you have no experience as a freelance web developer?

When I talk to new web developers about freelancing, some of them tell me they will start freelancing once they are expert developers. Some go a step further and tell me they know they need to be a veteran before they can start freelancing.

You’ll get hired because people trust you, not because of your experience. Experience can build trust, but it’s not the only way to get there.

What if you have no work experience to get a full-time job?

It's not easy to get a job without experience, but it can be done. With no work experience, it can feel impossible to get a job. What do you do?

My answer is: YOU NEED EXPERIENCE

How do you get experience?

You charge for your services then you work for free. But this depends on where you live, most times, working for free means that you have other means of survival, and working efficiently means that you're surviving or have means of surviving, for example, in some parts of Africa, you need constant electricity, data, and a good PC, imagine a self-taught developer that started programing with just an old PC with 4GB RAM, in this case, you'll be limiting your experience by the number of programs the PC can carry. To work means that you have a good PC, data and in good conditions to work let alone the experience

You charge for your services

This is the first thing you try, Charge for X and ONLY if they don't go ahead, charge less (that's what I do) If they still don't go ahead? You do it for free (in exchange for a testimonial and to add it to your portfolio) - that's if you have enough time and little experience.

Working for free IS NOT a bad thing.

Yes, in the short-term, it sucks. But in the long-term, it's beneficial.
Working for free is TEMPORARY. Do it for 2 or 3 clients in exchange for a testimonial or portfolio experience. You get EXPERIENCE and this EXPERIENCE helps you land more clients or a higher paying job.

Trust wins work

When you’re new, the barriers to getting hired onto an engineering team are daunting. Freelancers have a different set of barriers, but they’re easier to negotiate. As a freelancer solving problems for businesses, it’s trust, not experience, that wins work.
It's that simple. EXPERIENCE and CREDIBILITY do the selling and convincing for you. Let it convince your prospective clients. Play the long-term game. Trust me, this strategy works. I'm speaking from experience and it's worked for many other high-paying freelancers as well.

Discussion (4)

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mrmerc profile image
Ömer Çelik

Nice article but why so many duplications?

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navicsteinr profile image
Navicstein Rotciv Author

My bad... I copied multiple blocks from Grammarly when I was formatting the post and didn't even cross-check it, thanks for commenting.

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mrmerc profile image
Ömer Çelik

No problem man, nice post, keep it up 👍

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chidicode profile image
chidi-code

This is a great ideal.