Exposure can leave you vulnerable to the elements.
Before you’ve started you have already played yourself. You’ve set the value standard for your work and the biggest exposure you receive is your price tag, people love to talk about a bargain. But you don’t want to build a business on bargain prices. Well I don’t anyway.
But there is something in the idea that you can take and use for your advantage. I think if you are setting the terms and rules of engagement then pro bono work ‘for exposure’ can work. But you have to be careful you are in control.
The reason people can capitalise on the ‘exposure’ offer is because they understand that you love what you do. The rationale is that you should then be prepared to do it for free. This puts the power in the hands of the organisation commissioning the work.
Take the power back. If you love doing what you do, and money isn’t the motivation, then you have all the power. You can then use this power to selectively distribute you efforts and talents in meaningful ways that directly correspond to the kind of exposure you want to receive.
For example. One of my clients is a popular local charity that are really good with social media. They respect my time and service and pay for it. However from time to time I will provide pro bono work because it’s a win win situation. I have a clear understanding of what defines a win for me. It’s this:
The work is directed entirely by my, I don’t compromise on style or colour. I do what I want and how I want it.
The work is making a contribution to a cause I am passionate about and see the first hand results of in my local community
The work is presented and distributed broadly to my demographic in a way that compliments my brand.
These three points help me decide when and with who I choose to initiate a pro bono project. By retaining power over these areas this becomes a strategic form of marketing in which I have seen direct results.
If the exposure leaves you vulnerable change the relationship dynamic so it’s to your advantage.
Never work for exposure, but feel free to work with passion and engage your preferred clients.