It’s time to talk about pay. Join the conversation, and find out how much you’re worth.


How To Get Paid When Asked To Work For Free

Posted by Heather Huhman

April 24, 2012
|2 min read

Are you an intern, freelancer, or consultant getting ready for a new job? Congratulations! Are they asking you to work for free? Bummer.

Unfortunately, some people assume that if you’re not an official “employee,” you don’t need to be paid. Some people may ask to “pick your brain,” for a quick favor, or to discuss something over lunch.

Here are four tips to getting paid when asked to work for free:

1. Know your worth

You deserve to be paid for your time and effort, just like a full-time employee. Make sure you know your worth and how much you should be getting paid – Check out Salaries for specific job titles at specific companies on Glassdoor, or Google can help, too. The payment would be based on the service you provide and the amount of time you work.

To calculate your worth, think about three things: experience, expertise, and competition. How many years of experience do you have in this field, and what’s that experience worth? In terms of expertise, think about what the going rate is for your work in your industry. For competition, think about what your competitors offer and what makes you different - or better - than them. Your rate and offering needs to be competitive with other providers in your market.

2. Don’t be embarrassed

Asking for money is never easy, but don’t be embarrassed. You know what you’re worth, so ask for it. Be polite and respectful, but also be confident. Trust me, everyone works expecting to be paid - you’re not being rude by asking for compensation.

3. Communicate clearly

Be clear and direct when communicating your worth and your needs to an employer. Don’t beat around the bush! Say something like:

“I’m so glad you’re interested in my work! I’d love to talk to you about the next step, which is a consultation. We can discuss my hours and pay, and your goals for my work.”

4. Be flexible

Though you’ve established and communicated your worth, be prepared to negotiate, as you would if you were negotiating salary at a full-time job. Be flexible in your expectations, and work with your employer to come to an agreement that suits both of you.