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One of the best ways as a freelance video pro to meet new people, and pick up new clients, is to do free work. Not many people like to hear that, especially when bills are due. However, it’s proven time and time again to be a great reel builder, learning tool, and method of exposure.

Free work usually allows you the freedom to do your own thing and experiment. However, you must be choosy about what you commit your time too. Just shooting the same old stuff does not do you any good.

When I am going to do free work, I’ve learned to evaluate each opportunity with these questions:

  • Does it add to my show reel?
  • Does it provide good exposure?
  • Do I want to do it?
  • Is it for a good cause?

The conundrum with doing free work is that it never seems free. After all, it’s still work. The ‘clients’ or beneficiaries often do not take into consideration that it is free and be quite picky about the final product. I always take this into account before committing to a project.

If you’re telling yourself, ‘this will be easy’, you are probably kidding yourself.

That is, at the very least, a best case scenario. You have to be prepared to commit to it as if it was a paying job. Otherwise, why even bother doing it?

Here’s a recent video I did for Hoops for Hope, a local New Jersey charity event to raise money for families still without homes from Hurricane Sandy. I thoroughly enjoyed contributing to such a good cause and used it as a chance to test out the new Edelkrone slider.

So going back to my question list….

1. Did this add to my show reel?

Probably not. Maybe a slider shot, but most likely not.

2. Did it provide good exposure?

Locally, yes. I met two Mayors, and host of others. Plus, the video will be shared with everyone and have a link to my facebook and website.

3. Did I want to do it?

I’ve been dying to try out my friend’s new Edelkrone Slider Plus and this was the perfect, stress free opportunity to do so.

4. Was it for a good cause?

It was for a great cause. Many families have lost their homes and received no help from FEMA or the government over 130l days later. This was the very least I could do.

Ultimately, the Choice is Yours

As freelancers, we are all presented with the opportunity to do free work at one time or another. It is certainly important to be selective, but equally important to not miss an opportunity to gain exposure and experience. I’d much rather be doing that then sitting at home on the couch. I’m curious to hear from other freelancers.

Do you do free or pro bono work, and if yes, how do you go about selecting which projects to take? How has it worked out for you in your experience?

Let us know in the comments below!

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