Good advice. Wish I knew some of this stuff when I was a young designer looking for experience.
Amazing; sage advice, beautifuly executed.
I worked free for friends, and regretted it. Other than that, I have asked for market rate, or worked on my own projects, pushing boundaries, bending rules, going deep with code and focusing on high concept show pieces and did pretty good. I would do pro-bono work for non-profits if they are doing good work.
You might want consider reading this: http://www.jessicahische.is/thinkingthoughtsaboutpricing
This is wonderful, and more people should see it.
Haha very nice. But my answer will always be this. http://noprobono.info/
I love it, very helpful and candid.
But a note on FREE work: I didn't see the word "learn" anywhere on the decision tree. Nor "capacity," which has at times been a determinant for me.
That is, if I've only got about 20 hours on the books for a week, with nothing new on the horizon, I'll entertain free work (which, let's call it what it is: a favor) if there's something I can learn from doing it.
Even if it doesn't end up in my portfolio, I can use that time to play around with some new design tool, meet new people, test out new design concepts, or just keep myself from getting rusty.
And it's been my experience that work begets work -- I recently heard from the friend of a friend of a client I helped three years ago. You gotta play this freelance thing all the way to the river.
One last piece of advice: always make a client sign my standard contract and SoW, even if it says $0 at the bottom. (It's also a great way to scare away disreputable people.) As every great ref reminds his boxers before a fight, "Protect yourself at all times!"
Site is down.
Looks like it's working fine!