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Freelancers being asked to work for nothing

Creative freelancers, including graphic designers, copywriters and photographers, are frequently asked to work for free - and many agree in order to get exposure and build relationships.

A poll of over 1,000 UK creative freelancers, conducted by Approve.io, has found that 70% were asked to work for free in 2016; 9% of those agreed on at least one occasion.


The research shows that it has become increasingly common for companies to ask for freebies - promising freelancers more experience or greater exposure for their work. Those under 25 years of age are much more likely to agree.


The study shows that:

  • 70% of freelancers polled said they were asked to work for free at least once in 2016;
  • Women are more likely to be asked to work for free than men and are also more likely to say yes;
  • 80% of UK freelancers who did work for free did it for the experience;
  • Photographers, graphic designers and copywriters are the most likely to be approached about working for free and are most likely to say yes;
  • Under-25s were almost twice as likely to work for free as over-25s.


The research also reveals that social media appears to be driving this trend - many study participants saying they were approached on Twitter and Facebook by businesses asking to use their photographs, artwork and content in return for credit. Others said they were asked to provide free work to demonstrate their capabilities to a potential client before they could be considered for paid work.


However, the data shows that cities with a large concentration of technology, media and creative industries - such as London and Manchester - have a lower percentage of freelancers willing to work for free.


Charlotte Whelan, Project Manager at Approve.io, said: 

"There's a difference between helping out a mate or offering your time for free to a good cause or charity and being exploited by a businesses that could - and should - be offering to pay for your talent."

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