Sometimes, it is OK to Work for Exposure.

A controversial opinion.

Stark Raving
3 min readAug 13, 2022


Photo by Kira auf der Heide on Unsplash

A friend from my coworking space exchanged a few hours work helping a local ski shop with its spreadsheets for an entire season of free snowboard rentals. Another stayed for free in four-star hotels across Portugal in exchange for managing their social media platforms. A third works from the Coworking space for free in exchange for taking beautiful photos of the community that the Coworking can use for its advertising.

That is respectively around 500$, 1000$ and 200$ saved.

Young freelancers often hear that they should never accept unpaid work for “exposure” and I agree with that 100%. Accepting to work for free has negative long term affects for you and for all other freelancers, as well as devaluing your time and your work.

That being said, work done not for free but in exchange with other services has a lot of benefits for freelancers that are just starting out and for oldtimers too. It is something that we should all consider including in our business plans, as it opens up many new opportunities.

1. A wider client base

Some companies can’t afford to invest in your services with money but can provide other benefits without their budget taking a hit. Hotels in the off-season have free rooms that they can provide with little cost to themselves. Ski rental shops in general have spare gear that they can afford to give out for free. This means that you can attract new clients, including smaller businesses with less margins, and local and family businesses. These companies might be less willing to take a risk on working with someone new, but working with them for an exchange of services is a good opportunity to prove your worth, and can lead to paid work in the future.

2. Develop lasting ties

There is something about a trade that creates a feeling of closeness with someone. It feels like giving and receiving a gift, and there is something very non-commercial and human about it, that can be the start of lasting bonds with other people and other companies. This is a great way to find new clients and building emotional connections with them. You both become invested in each other’s businesses through the act of…



Stark Raving

Intersectional feminism and environmental issues. Let’s make the world a kinder, more sustainable place. Support my work!