How To Work For Free For Extra Money

Offering your skills and time for free seems like a counterintuitive move when you want to increase your income. But think for a moment beyond those soft bills and hard coins you wish you had in your wallet. Think long-term.

Working in any capacity, whether as a volunteer or an intern, can open your eyes to new opportunities, help you establish valuable networking contacts, drive you along on your way to an impressive new title or promotion, or even get you some nice value-add perks like free event tickets or gym memberships.

Always remember: working for free looks great on a resume!

Work for Free to Gain Exposure

Exposure to the people looking for your skill set and creativity can greatly increase your chances of getting hired. You must, of course, make sure that you work for free in a somewhat reputable company, making your value as a potential employee greater and subsequently making you more desirable for hire.

In addition, working pro bono at certain events can expose your skills to distinguished leaders and other influential members of the business industry. This is why you must always attempt to flaunt your involvement in projects that you’ve contributed to. Moreover, you must also attempt to interact as much as possible with influential people. Sometimes knowing a few well-connected individuals can open up lots of new doors for you.

To do this, try to convince the appropriate people in the organisation to arrange corporate events, seminars and get-togethers. You might even be able to influence the guest list or speaker list and invite as many powerful businesspeople as possible. This will help you to interact personally with some influential leaders.

Perhaps you can exchange contact information, express some ideas or even become friends. Even if you can’t take direct charge of the responsibility of doing the inviting, you can make some great suggestions that will help bring those significant individuals closer to you.

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Work for Free in NGOs

Work for free only in the NGOs that really cannot afford to pay you. The reasoning behind this is that popular NGOs probably do have the ability to pay you since they employ many other people in specific job positions. Agreeing to work for free in such NGOs would undermine the value of your abilities and skills.

Moreover, working for an NGO which is unable to pay you means you’ll be able to reach a higher level of the organisation, something which is normally quite difficult to accomplish even in for-profit companies. A vital fact to consider here is that small-scale NGOs most probably actually require unpaid workers to even start chipping away at making a relatively large impact on the world.

Therefore, wouldn’t it be most productive to work for less known NGOs? If you work for free for an NGO, make sure that you do work for a cause that you are passionate about supporting. A high level of passion may work in your favour. You may come up with an innovative idea that can bring you some exposure and make a real difference in the world.

Work for Free to Enhance Your Skills

Have you recently noticed that you’re not being hired because of a lack of skills and experience? This may have occurred because a younger generation of employees is constantly entering the job market with the most up-to-date skills and required work experience.

If this is the case, offer or accept to work for free in reputable organisations that agree to connect you to a variety of new skills and experiences. In this way, you’ll be able to stock up on some current skills that are in demand and then re-enter the job market with confidence.

Don’t forget that gaining new skills may also help you to land some side jobs that will help make some extra money. What’s even better is that these can help you expand your horizons in the job market. If your specialised career suddenly comes to a halt for any reason, you’ll still be able to use your additional acquired skills so that you can quickly land on your feet in a new career.

Work For Free To Increase Your Earnings and Boost Your Resume

After You Work for Free…

When you agree to work for free, it’s quite obvious that there are unseen benefits associated with it. In addition to this, you must try to negotiate directly so that you don’t shut out the possibility of getting some in-kind payment or perks of some sort.

Don’t start off an introductory conversation by offering to work for free just because you have a feeling that you won’t get the paid job you’re going for. Give the impression that you’re open to an offer of remuneration. During that initial discussion, you can introduce yourself as a pro bono contractor.

After negotiating, write up a contract to be renewed at regular intervals of a couple of months. In the contract state what you will receive in lieu of money in return for your free work. You may ask to use some of the products and research that you work on for nothing in your own website or blog (with references, of course!).

Otherwise, you might simply ask for a unique professional title for your function. The point is that you may ask for permission to use some of the results of the free work that you do for your personal benefit. If you don’t think that these results can be applied very well to your own personal work, attempt to negotiate some perks. For example, if you manage an event, ask for some house tickets to that event.

Perhaps there is a chance that the event organiser can offer free service for a day at his or her spa centre. Anything like this can be a wonderful reward for you! Be aware of the renewal conditions that you’ve stipulated in the contract. Make the best possible use of these by ending the contract within the designated time frame.

After this, you can actually ask for a paid job in the organisation by pulling up some supportive data and statistics. For instance, you might mention that your free work has led to a gain in followers for the company on social platforms – evident in the sudden 40% rise in sales after your arrival at the organisation.

What if You Don’t Want to Work for Free?

If you don’t want to work for free, say it straight out and refuse the offer politely. An informal reply like, “I have to earn money to survive, you know!” can damage your professional reputation. You wouldn’t want an organisation to have a negative impression of you or hold a lingering grudge.

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Founder @ The New Savvy
Anna Haotanto is the Advisor (former CEO) of The New Savvy. She is currently the COO of ABZD Capital and the CMO of Gourmet Food Holdings, an investment firm focusing on opportunities in the global F&B industry. She is part of the founding committee of the Singapore FinTech Association and heads the Women In FinTech and Partnership Committee. Anna is the President of the Singapore Management University Women Alumni. Anna invests and sits on the board of a few startups. Anna is also part of the Singapore Chinese Chamber of Commerce & Industry Career Women’s Group executive committee. Anna’s story is featured on Millionaire Minds on Channel NewsAsia. She hosts TV shows and events, namely for Channel NewsAsia’s “The Millennial Investor” and “Challenge Tomorrow”, a FinTech documentary. Anna was awarded “Her Times Youth Award” at the Rising50 Women Empowerment Gala, organised by the Indonesian Embassy of Singapore. The award was presented by His Excellency Ngurah Swajaya. She was also awarded Founder of the Year for ASEAN Rice Bowl Startup Awards. She was also awarded the Women Empowerment Award by the Asian Business & Social Forum. Anna has been awarded LinkedIn Power Profiles for founders (2018, 2017), Tatler Gen T, The Peak’s Trailblazers under 40 and a nominee for the Women of The Future award by Aviva


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