Please Stop Asking Us To Work For Free
I've started this piece multiple times.
The first few times I deleted it- it sounded too angry and I thought oh god if I publish this I will never get any work again. I'm not against being an angry woman on the internet (readers yell in unison: we know, Lizzie) but they were dripping with so much anger that they just didn't seem fair to publish. I had to take a collective chill pill or 7 and reset. The most recent time I tried to write this my computer decided to eat it (Mondays AMIRITE?!) and then I started to wonder are these all just signs from the universe that this blog post is not meant to exist? But I am both incredibly stubborn and wildly passionate about this topic so you're getting it anyway. Sorry, internet gods, if I have upset you by ignoring your warnings.
Here is the gist of my previous rantings: I get asked to work for free all the time and I am so fucking over it. It has been happening so frequently for so many years that it's almost as if I just broke through some barrier into another dimension and have zero fucks left to give. I have the good fortune of this happening both to me as a yoga teacher and me as a blogger, so you could say that I'm extra fucking blessed. This isn't a unique-to-me situation. This happens to my photographer friends, my make up artist friends, my personal trainer friends, and all my other female friends who are hustling their buns off for something that they really fucking believe in. Everybody wants us to work for free. For "exposure". For "a chance to build a relationship and see where it goes". It's so ridiculous that at this point my anger has turned into laughter. It's just so ridiculous!
Here's the thing that I don't get about this whole situation, the thing that makes me laugh. When people ask me to work for free they are basically saying hey I think that what you are doing is really cool and it could really benefit me! That being said I don't think that it's actually important enough to actually pay you for, lol! I've been asked to teach for the love of yoga instead of getting paid, been offered snacks in exchange for compensation, etc. Don't get me wrong, all of this stuff is super cool. But should I offer my landlord the fucking love of yoga in lieu of rent? Do you think my husband will be cool with me saving up for a down payment on our future home with snacks? Is that a thing? If it is a thing we could probably have bought a house like... last year.
This does not happen in more traditional job sectors. Like, you would never offer to pay a software developers in protein powder, you would fucking pay her. You would never think to pay your accountant in essential oils. I get asked so often to do full projects for clients (a million blog posts, 500 edited photos, Instagram pictures for the rest of my life until one of us dies) in exchange for... literally nothing. A pat on the back? A shoutout on their social media channels that never happens? I'm tired, guys. I'm so tired of spending hours each week just trying to convince somebody that all of my hard work and skill and intellect is worth paying for. I'm tired of telling people that I don't work for free.
Also, I'm just going to say it: I don't know any men that this happened to. I know that they are out there, I just haven't heard from them yet. (If you are a dude blogger/yoga teacher/whatever that is often asked to work for free let me know! I wanna talk to you). A good male yoga teacher is like a fucking unicorn, so I'm convinced they get paid in airplanes or some shit for each class they teach. Male bloggers aren't quite as prevalent as their female counterparts and also are perceived as a lot more rare, so they also tend to get paid more and more frequently. So, you know, just another super fun thing about having a vagina for all you kids to look forward to!
I used to feel so bad about asking to be paid, too. I would try to justify it and provide all of this information: I was saving for a wedding, I lived alone, I had car payments, this was going to take up 5 hours of my day, etc. But then one morning I just... stopped. I don't feel bad anymore about asking to be paid because that's just silly, and also I have never felt bad about it at a more traditional job. I have even, at the end of many back and forth conversations with giant businesses that aren't ultimately going to pay me anything for the work they want me to do said, you get paid for your job, right?
Not every company or client does this. So many of them are amazing to work with, most of them are. Most humans that reach out to me are doing so because they really think that my work is of value. But everyday there is at least one person who demands (they usually don't ask politely) so much work for free-ninety-nine. It's silly, it's unfair, it's offensive, it has to stop. Also yeah, hi, I know that I'm not the first person to complain about this. I know that this perspective is not unique. But I also know that we don't talk about it enough. I know that we need to get more comfortable standing up for ourselves as women and/or business owners.
To the people that want to use our services but don't want to pay for them: nobody has time for that. I'm not going to ask you to do your job for free, so please don't ask me to do mine for free. Please don't waste either of our time like that. It's obnoxious for both of us.
To my fellow female entrepreneurs working your tits off everyday to make your dream happen: I see you. Please don't ever let another person make you feel like you aren't worthy or deserving of fair compensation for all of your hard work because you are. Also, drop your business link below so that we can all support you and smash the patriarchy and take on the world. Or whatever.
Stay rad and get paid,