Plain and simple – don’t ask people to work for free.

Lawyer friends of mine are always getting asked for free legal advice. They spend all day getting paid to “lawyer” and some random friend presents them with a legal conundrum over happy hour, expecting them to do for free what everyone else pays them to do. It’s 2019. That’s gotta stop. We have to do better by our friends.

If you work every day, being asked to do that thing you do outside of work hours for no money seems senseless. Sure, there are causes to which we donate our time and talents. But random friends and people looking to profit off your labor aren’t it.

Most insulting is when people tell you there won’t be payment and you’ll be working for “exposure”. I’ve been told this. Someone asked me to speak at something after seeing me speak elsewhere. She said she thought I was poised and well-received by the audience and spoke well. And then she went in for the kill: the favor. She asked me to speak at a thing she was doing where people would be paying admission. She then said, “I can’t pay you; this will just be for exposure.” *slow blink* But I’m already exposed. YOU know me, which is why you’re here asking me to work for free. I politely declined, fighting the urge to let her know how rude I thought her request was.

Intellectual labor is labor. If I am paid to do something, don’t ask me to do it for free. You wouldn’t ask a carpenter to build you a house for free, would you? Instead, mention that you need something done. If I offer to do it free of charge, fine. But coming right out and asking makes things awkward.

Have you done this? Have you asked your accountant friend for tax advice? Your writer friend to edit something for you? Your personal trainer friend to be your accountability partner? I could go on. You get the point. Don’t do it. Pay people what they’re worth.