Flowchart: Should You Work For Free?

Here’s a decision chart that’ll amuse those of you who work independently, perform some freelancing/consulting work, or just happen to be especially good at something. Should you do the work for free? Well, it depends:

(click to visit site)

By Jessica Hische at ShouldIWorkForFree.com.


  1. Funny. Worth a look. One error, though — on the left-most side, you can’t answer “no” to “are you altruistic”… a mistake for Allah, perhaps.

  2. Love this one! Especially the part about helping out your mom, so true!

  3. What is it about businesses that try to get you to work for free? If they can’t offer you money, nothing else they offer is going to be worth a damn. They might as well just come right out and say they are scammers or incompetent.

  4. I would warn anyone who does work for free to require exclusivity. Following the flow chart for nonprofits, I recently landed in the far right at “Yes.” After a month of helping them, I suddenly stopped hearing anything. I later found that they had gotten the same help from several people with similar skill sets. They had ultimately decided to abandon me. Nothing feels worse than having your work ignored after you graciously agreed to work for free.

    Contrary to popular belief, I think there is fundamentally less morality in the world of “free” (except for your Mom). One side has no skin in the game and is free to flake out. The other must pony up his contribution up front. Even a nominal stipend can change things — $100, say. It may not be much to you, but it is a game-changer because it is something from them.

  5. Ken absolutely right. Working for nothing is the best way to get nothing. I always ask a client who asks for a steep discount, “What is your own response to your customers/clients? Now, that’s a good starting point for negotiation.” It’s always amazed me how many people will ask for a discount but would never think of giving it to their own customers/clients “out of the good of their heart.”

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