When You Should & Should Not Work For Free

Hello friends, so i recently came across an amazing article that spoke to my soul, i read this article and i have written this post in my own words and how it relates to the Nigerian job/creative market. I believe this a post for everyone. I have come to discover that alot of people, especially Nigerian businesses, brands, individuals want free things/jobs, and its surprising that this behaviour is common with so called big Nigerian brands or persons. I have done some free Jobs in the past, but a lot of these jobs pushed me to where i am now,because these were jobs that gave me value (and at the very start if my career/path it was value over money, and also learning so much). Working for free varies for different people, at this stage in my career i can only work pro bono if i am gaining huge value and if its a collaboration that will enable both parties to grow.

Here are some other instances in which working for free may actually work for you.


You’re just getting started. Your work is rad (RAD), and you know the world will love it. (They will!) But you’re a little stuck when it comes to getting the word out, creating in vain and in a vacuum. One solution: Offering up some freebies to a legit company that can help boost you over the hurdle by letting you tap into their audience. In these situations, though, know that the promise of “exposure” is not enough. Get down and dirty with the details. Ask questions . Will companies link back to your site? How and where exactly will this happen? Will they promote you, along with your work, on their social channels? On related marketing materials? Big companies should have budgets, but sometimes the only way to get that toe in the door (and land a gig that might otherwise go to a more established colleague), is by offering to do it for free. But if a company isn’t forthcoming about their audience or how they’ll promote you, do not do it.


Sometimes one single resume line of you doing amaze work for a credible company can catapult you into the realm of paying jobs for life. The same goes for visual examples of beautiful work, whether you’re a graphic designer, photographer, stylist, or brand consultant.  Nail one job down, lean on it hard when talking with future clients or companies, and see where it gets you (and, ahem, they don’t need to know you did it for free).


Sometimes  projects with little-to-no budgets are attached to influential folks with big names and tons of connections. Tons of career breaks have been launched by a friendly “remember me? loved working with you” email after you’ve done solid work and built rapport with a killer new network of people”who can hire you”.


There are so many amazing things i have learnt by just volunteering or working for a brand/organisation, there was a brand i worked for a while back, and the owner of the brand literally taught me so much that i know now. I am very thankful that i did that job for free, because what i learned is much more of value to me now.


I believe there are some collaboration offers that may come your way that you should be able to do for free, especially when everyone will be benefiting equally, and at the end of the day it all comes down to value. Imagine Beyonce comes to town and they need a photographer or designer, lol you shouldnt even think twice before saying yes. Collaborating with the right people means we can all win.


Charity work is the one thing i believe everyone should do for free and that means by volunteering your service or your time. You will be making a difference in the world.


Many organizations make big promises about how working for free will help you. But most of those claims and promises just aren’t true. Don’t get lured into something based on the hook that your work could “turn into something big.” There’s a good chance you’ll end up donating a lot of your time and energy without getting anything in return. If you don’t value your time, other people won’t either. So it’s important to know your worth. And if you’re going to do some work for free, be intentional about it. Make sure it’s something that makes sense for you & your growth.



4 Replies to “When You Should & Should Not Work For Free”

  1. Thanks for this.

    1. You are welcome. xoxo Adohr

  2. Onyeka Okoli says:

    Awesome, thoughtful piece.

    1. Im glad you like it

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