Creatives, your skills are in high demand by many organizations, businesses, and individuals. Sometimes even by friends—if they need a website, advertising copy, graphics or other creative work produced.

Last Sunday a dear friend asked me if I could design a website for his new business. He doesn’t have a lot of money to spend and thinks of me as someone who could provide a good product. I’m very glad he has confidence in my abilities, and as much as I would like to help him, I don’t have time to do his project unless I take time away from something else that pays better.

When I do have time to add a project, however, sometimes I go ahead and say “Yes!” – even if there’s little or no monetary reward. What are the factors that help me decide?

  1. Passion—If the project is for a cause in which I believe strongly, I will carve out the time. Volunteering our skills (or offering them for much less than the market rate) for worthy causes is personally fulfilling and adds value to any project.
  2. Career Development—I will probably say “yes” if I think that I will learn something new from the project, meet or work with someone in my field who could be a good contact, gain a skill or client that could improve my resume or add to the strength of my portfolio. This type of work experience is also a great way to fill in gaps in your work history or get great references!
  3. Respect—It is always surprising to me how often volunteers are treated disrespectfully as if they are only worth what they are being paid. Having worked as a professional with volunteers and as a volunteer with professionals, volunteers deserve more respect, not less. If you treat me respectfully, I am likely to help you out over and over again. Amazing how something that simple can create such loyalty.

Yes.  It is hard to say “no” to a friend without feeling guilty, I know. But if you have the time, don’t need the money, and can think of some way that investment of time capital pays off for you, everyone can benefit from your talent!

Wendy Stackhouse for Artisan Creative