Would you work for FREE?

It's an interesting question.

Do you like what you do enough that you would still do it even if you weren't being paid for the work?

I'd venture to say that people in creative professions like writing (yours truly), graphic design, music, acting, and so on would say yes, as would those who work in charitable organizations devoted to a cause about which they're passionate.

On the other hand, people who view their jobs as a mere paycheck are probably less apt to think this way. They're the ones already eying the clock at 4:50 and bolting out the door at 4:59.

I'm one of the lucky few whose favorite hobbies (reading, writing, editing, proofing) coincide with his job responsibilities. I'm a copywriter/editor by day and a freelance writer at night. My true passion, though, is this blog, as it allows me to express myself myself freely -- with no politics or overbearing boss to get in my way.

It isn't so much the work, company, or industry itself that drives people to want to get up in the morning. It's really about how much latitude you have to make decisions. Does the job allow you to propose creative solutions to problems? Is your opinion taken into account?

Unfortunately, most jobs -- especially those at large companies -- require that employees follow the rules and toe the line, causing them operate in rote fashion. This is certainly the case in my day job. My boss -- not to mention her boss -- micromanage all the work that gets put out in my department. I don't have much of a say as far as the words that get put on paper go, so I'm basically a glorified editor and proofreader.

In my case, whether I'm working for McDonald's or the start-up tire shop around the corner, I have a passion for words. I like playing word games and looking up definitions of unfamiliar words in my spare time.

Obviously, I would much rather get paid for my work. But if someone were to ask me to proof or edit something for her as a favor, I would do it -- and probably have fun doing so. I actually did some freelance writing free of charge while still in college, just to gain more writing experience to put on my resume.

Still, some people might enjoy their work but refuse to do it for free. More likely than not, they don't like their trade enough to view it as a hobby, or would much rather be doing other things in their spare tine. (In the case of, say, accountants, social workers, and doctors, I don't blame them!)

So, to reiterate my main point, people are more willing to work for free when:

  • They are truly passionate about their work--they find it fun, mentally challenging, and worth doing even they're off the clock
  • The job allows them creative expression
  • It involves a cause that matters deeply to them
  • They are doing it to gain knowledge or experience for better opportunities
Do you like your job enough that you'd do it for free?

For more posts, click here: How to Understand People

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