Working For Fun

woman sitting on a ledge in a Starbucks-like coffee shop working on a laptop on her lap

A film-maker recently approached me with a request to have me voice a character for them. The budget was “just for fun”! People have tried to get me to work for free before, but I’d never seen “fun” as a payment term.

Although my work can be fun, I don’t work for fun, I do fun things for fun! My motivator is having the cash to purchase Twizzlers and strong coffee. The cat needs food and the car needs gas. You know, the usual reasons.

I shared this anecdote on Facebook and the responses were priceless. Many people in different lines of work can relate to being asked to work for free, if not for fun. Those in a hiring position sometimes think their gigs are so special that we’ll climb over each other just for the chance to take part. Today I’m sharing some of the responses from people in a wide variety of occupations.

Writing for print isn’t as lucrative as it used to be – I know because it’s part of what I do – but I didn’t know it could get this bad.

I once worked for a magazine (using the term loosely) and the owner/editor believed asking contributing writers to work for free was fine – because it was an “honour” to be published in his magazine.

Barb S.

I was asked to teach a cutting course – I am a butcher – to a room full of teachers on a PD day. When I asked about pay, the response was they would buy me lunch. So, I get to be the only person in the room working and the only person not getting paid to be there. Hmmmmm. I do not think so. Chris L.

I love the – can you fix my computer, amplifier, TV, VCR, etc…. and I’ll buy you a coffee, lunch, or beer… Yeah…. no… I don’t fix your junk for FREE!!! Dan B.

Now, if a friend asks for a favour, that’s one thing. But if you approach someone’s business and try to get work in exchange for a beer, you deserve a good shunning!

Glen Foster, “That Canadian Guy”, once talked about working for “exposure”. His comment was, “this is Canada, you can die from exposure”.
I once had a potential client ask me if I would hypnotize him to find an answer he couldn’t remember and that he’d pay me if it worked. Guess what my answer was?

Julia W.

This one’s by my former radio colleague, Robert S.

Looooooong ago, the radio station in Simcoe wanted me to do free on-air shows to see if they would hire me. Hahahahahaha. No.

In voice-over, it’s rampant. If not free, then you’re asked to work awfully cheap. Some wannabe clients will try to grind you down to where you’d be doing several hours of work for about $10. Someone will do it, no doubt. But that someone won’t be me!

2 thoughts on “Working For Fun”

  1. I love that – “you can die from exposure” – perfect. MY WORST experience was a guy who I’m sure now was mobbed up, trying to get me to come to his modelling agency to speak to parents. “Don’t you want to ‘give back’?” he asked. I fell for it. Felt guilty. All of the charity stuff etc. I’d done and this jack** made me feel guilty. I can’t believe I did that and all I wanted to do was have a Silkwood-style chemical shower when it was done. I hope none of those parents spent money there!!!

    1. Oh no. I know that feeling! It feels like you’ve done something that goes completely against your character. 🙁 It was a guilt-driven blip in a stellar career. THAT guy LIVES that way!

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