PIE=Paid In Exposure. Are Freelancers Left Hungry?
Economic conundrum for the freelance community: if our clients’ wallets are thin, should we work for less or no money? Michelle Goodman (we wrote about her new book when it came out in October) wrote “When to Work for Nothing” for the New York Times’ Shifting Careers column this past week. She coins an excellent phrase, PIE, or “paid in exposure,” for the discomfiting logic that working for free is fair to both parties. Long story short, Goodman thinks it’s a good idea if you need to build your fledgling portfolio, get in the door with your ideal industry or client, or up your karmic levels. Otherwise, freelancer beware! She puts it brilliantly: “When you agree to work free, you reinforce people’s misguided ideas that the self-employed are independently wealth hobbyists.” But it can be so tempting. The blog FreelanceSwitch posted an interview with a guy involved in a project to get Facebook users to write travel pieces that could get published into travel guides. Compensation? “A chance to win five years of free vacation at the resort.” Is this work, or a sweepstakes? Here’s a test case that a freelancer we know recently encountered: On Craigslist, a fledgling business posted a part-time gig writing and shaping its website. You’re asked to give a brief analysis of the site and write a sample article for to be considered for the job, which would be compensated with a share of the company’s equity. What would you do?