One of the biggest challenges launching MATAGI, has been convincing people to “work for free.” I’ve had some missteps and disappointments when folks failed to show up. Those failures brought me back to the drawing board and made me question if getting folks to work in mini-collaborations was possible? (Spoiler: It is.)

Many folks think it’s crazy to expect people to collaborate without a guarantee of compensation. Those “what’s in it for me” folks, aka Takers, aka Defectors, aka Non-Cooperators, aka Evil Gits* were never going to be MATAGI-ers.  MATAGI-ers are artists, creatives, cooperators, and collaborators. 

However, there are countless stories of folks taking advantage of and/or undervaluing those same creatives. Complaints of online magazines only paying professionals with “exposure” and Clients From Hell stories of freelancers being undervalued. So before I attempt to write my thoughts on how to get folks to work for free, I wanted to share my (beta) decision tree for how I weigh the cost and benefits of volunteering my time.

I do think that it makes sense for folks starting out to give free samples and/or test drives in order to gain experience, recommendations, and insight.

That said I would also urge everyone to start charging for their services before they are ready. Folks tend to value work the amount they pay for it, and you need to gain experience with clients that value your work appropriately as soon as you can.


* My Game Theory professor was British can you tell 😉






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