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Sooke entrepreneurs: Have you been asked to work for free? — 10 Comments

  1. Do you mean helping out a neighbor or volunteering, that sort of thing? In which case I would say that there are many people who do this. Or are you asking if businesses are asking people to work for free in which case I would say that no I don’t see that because local businesses are very aware that the people they hire are their neighbors who need to be paid so they can live.

  2. Tough being a photographer. I get asked weekly if I would mind them using my photos for “name credit”. Many people don’t respect the arts and it being a business. I have 10k+ invested in equipment and 20 years experience plus education. A mention of my name to my image does not pay my monthly mortgage.

    If you are using my images to garner better exposure to earn you more visibility or work you are essentially using my images to make you more money.

    And if you think it helps my business for getting more exposure, you’re wrong. I would rather the money so I can choose my own path of marketing and it likely wouldn’t be with your business.

  3. Totally agree, Jason! I opened a home based graphic design and print business in Sooke in 1990, after having already spent 20+ years as a successful, professional graphic designer within the printing industry in Toronto. I worked my buns off, 24/7, to help make my clients’ businesses and organizations successful. However, I was often asked for discounts, donations, spec jobs and freebies… far too often, to be honest!
    When there’s a family to feed, bills to pay and a household to maintain… beggars can’t be choosers. You’re sometimes forced to make difficult compromises – or lose the job and go without!
    I urge people to THINK ABOUT THIS the next time you try to “get a deal” from a small business person in our community. Especially from those in the creative world. (You’ve heard the term “starving artist”, no doubt?) Just because what we sell is our artistic talent and creativity, we don’t just flip a switch or press a button and “hey, presto” a fabulous work of art falls into our hands. Far from it! It can be a very long, agonizing process to “get it just right” to keep our valued clients happy… trust me!
    That last comment on the attached video really hits home.

  4. Yes this happens a lot in our industry, Pure Elements hair stylists and make up artists have given many volunteer hours to fashion shows, and fund raising events, and we love it! We get a great sense of community, and we love to give back. We also get wonderful exposure for our great talent. We have been lucky to be asked. And if we can’t its usually due to a full day booked.
    But we do get friends in our beginning years of work who take advantage. But we learn to set boundaries when we are heavily booked at work, and can’t possibly do home haircuts. Its bad business all the way around, stylists and estheticians work hard and spend money yearly on education, my advice to friends, “give your stylist friend a break! Book an appointment at the saon!”

  5. Running a recording studio, and live sound stage is also hard work… It essentially eats out your entire weekend (IF you can get a booking-which takes many hours marketing beforehand). When you get a call, you have to convince them with an extensive list of successful projects that their project is safe in your hands. As they will tell you, they are thinking about hiring Tom Lee for their performance. But since you are ‘new’, they don’t want to pay you and you have to prove yourself at the same time.

    I was thankful for some locals for hiring me to run a stage a few years in a row for a festival, I worked really hard to put on a very successful stage and earned every penny! I moved what seemed like my entire house for a weekend to bring all my instruments, sound equipment to the stage. (Thankfully nothing was stolen…) I was expected to be on the stage from an hour before opening to an hour after closing helping people use my equipment properly, and running the sound board, equipment, stage management, supplying musical talent, and putting things away.

    Part of my commitment was trying to entice artists from Victoria to come perform so we didn’t have to listen to ‘open mic quality’ performing as the client had complained about in previous years. I wasn’t able to attract anyone without paying them at the very least gas money… The venues suggestion of a cooler of free pop was a resounding NO and probably scared most of the quality talent away! Music was expected to be provided from 9am till 5pm over a span of 3 days. The talent that I brought in was well received, and appreciated via applause and crowd engagement; well worth a few bucks! The clients also brought in talent as well, but only managed to damage my equipment, complain about the brand names of my gear, and have me field a lot of complaints about the quality of the performers that the *clients* chose because they didn’t adequately check into the artists skills. It was frustrating for me to hear that they were paid extremely well to be brought in from Vancouver, and there was not even gas money for the local Victoria or Sooke musicians… In my pushing for getting bands a little extra, the client didn’t renew my services again the following year; which was fine. I wasn’t about to take a paycut for all the work I did because I knew that the only way I could get people interested is to pay them myself… How much should you expect to earn for putting in three 15 hour days in a row with no lunch break? Now subtract all your expenses, maintenance, paying the band, to-go lunch,

    In the end, I had to pay to get my own stuff fixed.. And it took me WEEKS to get my studio/house back the way it was. Even forgetting about personal ‘salary’, we do have expenses to upkeep or we can’t maintain even the basics of our business! Equipment tends to break if you have careless people on your stage throwing your things around.

    This was my last client before I decided it was too much work this business and quit. My equipment is all still here, but any time I think about starting my business up again, I might have a meeting or two with someone to pique my interest, but nothing materializes from it, as this person is also seeking the same thing I am. Bottom line is, there is no ‘deal’, and often some of these music gigs are not about how ‘fun’ you think our job is and that we deserve less. It is long hours of work making sure that we provide the best in entertainment (Or technical expertise) that we can; trying to make everyone happy all at once. Often times all of the behind the scenes work we do is not even noticed.

    I also have a ten thousand dollars in equipment, and a degree… Think I could find work doing it? Not so much. My time is better spent working for ‘the man’. At least he’s able to charge a fair price for his product so he can pay me. :p

  6. I nod in agreement to the comments above . Absolutely yes. I have been asked to do things for a severe discount or for free. You know, “get my name out there” …

    It is not understood that it an be quite an issue for me to decorate an office or restaurant for free, have some of my best works “out of inventory” and not readily available for sale, at risk of being damaged and nothing financial to show for it.

    If a deal was to be struck – the better option would be for a piece to be purchased and a sign indicating this and then – possibly a couple for sale to accompany it. This indicates enthusiasm and that the office/restaurant chose to invest in the artist versus just getting decor for free.

    I do and will continue to shop local. I personally boycotted Walmart and giants of that ilk around 10+ years ago. The majority of gifts I purchase are of the hand-made variety. If we want a true local economy , a sustainable economy – we have to walk the walk.