“I’m sorry, we just don’t have the budget to pay you”, says the multi-million £/$ company, “but it’ll be good exposure for you!”
I see things like this pop up in my Facebook feed quite regularly from folks who’ve received random emails from individuals and companies asking them to work for free and they choose to quote them before ridiculing them on their public timelines.
Then somebody usually posts this link (or rather, a copy of it hosted somewhere else claiming it as a genuine email exchange – yup, folks, it’s pure fiction).
It’s funny, sure, but not the way to win people over you actually want to pay you for what you do.
I get emails like this myself. I’m sure most of you reading this have also received one or two (or hundreds).
When you get an email begging for free work, if you think you can educate them and turn them into a paying client, go for it, give it your best shot. If you don’t think you can, then delete it, don’t worry about it and get on with your life.
Personally, I think this video from Mike Monteiro should be required watching for any creative freelancer.
While the vast majority of clients are those with whom you may establish great long term relationships, you’re going to get begging letters, and you’re going to get the occasional client that tries to worm their way out of paying. It’s inevitable.
Just plan for it, prepare for it, and deal with it appropriately.