Working for exposure: Should you do it?
If you’re self-employed, an entrepreneur or working in a creative field, you’ve more than likely been asked to work ‘for exposure’ at least once. That is, trading your products or services in exchange for marketing and publicity rather than cash. But while it might seem like a fair trade, and a good way of increasing your potential client base, is working for exposure actually worth it? Let’s take a look.
Find out what ‘exposure’ means
Before you agree to work for free, find out exactly what you’ll be getting in return. Will you be given a vague “Oh our customers will see this and really love it” or will you be given a more specific “Our website has 3 000 unique visitors per day, and we’ll put a write-up on your business and a link to your site on our homepage for a month”? If it’s the former, it’s an instant no. If it’s something like the latter, it could be worth considering.
See if you can leverage the exposure to your advantage
Does the potential client have a mailing list that you can market to? Can you ask them to consider you as a preferred supplier for their next paying job? Can you leave flyers or business cards at their premises to create awareness for your products or services? If there’s a way you can tangibly leverage exposure to your advantage, it could be a profitable marketing tool for you.
Decide if it’s an association that can benefit you
While you may not be getting paid in rands and cents, often working with well-known, big name brands can be rewarding in itself. Being able to list a popular brand collaboration on your CV or being able to feature the work in your portfolio can help give you credibility and build your reputation. Judge whether or not the client in question could be a useful partnership for you, and go from there.
Ultimately, the choice to work for exposure is a hotly debated one, with some arguing that you can’t pay the rent with exposure (true) and others arguing that it can be a helpful tool when used judiciously (also true). At the end of the day, it’s up to you to decide whether the risk is worth the reward. Either way, you’ll learn a valuable business lesson.
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