To Work For Free or Nah?

People begin the freelance journey from different points. Some start with a few side projects related to their field, and then others are completely self-taught.

We are an emerging demographic. Our legitimized educational and professional experiences are not necessarily directly tied to our freelancing careers. It does not mean that we are less qualified, we’ve just been on a different path.  

In this process of becoming a professional freelancer, you find yourself needing to build your clientele. One of the most common ways to do this is through freelancing for freeand/or whether you should do work for free. It is a matter of opinion, after all, you are the one living with the work. 

In the beginning, I have worked for free. I've helped friends with their sites, and I gained so much experience from it that I wouldn’t have gotten if I charged. BUT, It was miserable time for me professionally. It's exhausted and frustrating.

Your Friend is Now Your Client

If you’ve decided to do something for a friend, do all elements as you would for a customer – the same process, contracts, and client terms. Meet with your friend in a formal setting. You are not only getting experience in what you are doing, but you are also gaining experience in how you work with clients.

Full Artistic + Design Direction

I wish I implemented this when I did free work. I learned a lot from those projects, but those friends were a real challenge to work with, and some of the work I wasn’t able to show in my portfolio. They asked for design decisions that took away from the design. A couple months ago, I was listening to a podcast talk about free work, and one of the key points they brought up is design control. If the friend/customer is not paying you, they can at least sacrifice design control, aka you don’t have to make those ridiculous edits.

Obviously, some people might take advantage, and give their friend an awful design, but this advice is not for them. If you are doing really good work, and your clients website means as much to them as it does to you, then they should feel okay with this compromise.

Always Have a Contract

Just because the work is for free, does not mean you should have a contract. They are getting a project done for $0. It still should fall under similar terms and parameters. Contracts outline roles and responsibilities, and you do not want your friendship to get muddied up because things were not clear. Since you are also having a friend review your contract, you can ask them feedback on this stage of the process – how did you present it, things that were unclear, etc. 

Identify When You’ll Charge for Work from the Beginning

This point is just excellent customer service. In the beginning, I didn’t communicate this well. I didn’t foresee some of the issues that would arise in projects. Since I never communicated extra charges in those projects, my policy has been to do the updates for free, but on my time. Often these changes are subtle, and both the clients and I were pleased with this process. I have made a note to communicate extra charges to customers from the get-go since.

Don’t sneak up charges on people; it’s tacky and bad custom service. I had a friend receive free work from someone. She thought it was just a mutual meeting and collaborating. Then, when the person said that she was going to charge her, my friend declined the service for personal reasons. The person unfollowed her from everything. If people decided they can’t afford to pay you – it’s not personal. Determine how you can finish the project to ensure mutual respect from both parties, keep everything cordial.

Free Work Should Not Take Over Your Life

You need to make a living. If you are still working full-time, start small. Maybe one or two projects. Don’t overextend yourself, even more; you will already be over-extending yourself.

By doing free work in the community in which I wanted to establish myself in – design – I created myself as a credible and professional resource. I am getting to the point where I am having to be serious about charging when I felt comfortable and confident. These days, I don’t do any work for free. 

I definitely won’t do any work for free, and I definitely won’t swap services for anyone. My business is no longer just something starting out. If I need someone to do work for me, I pay them. Currency is definitely the best way to support another brand. 

What are your thoughts on freelancing for free? What issues have you faced? 

VYRL Co. Design on Spotify: Black Content Creators Playlist for Productivity

Like many, love listening to music while I work. To me, it’s part of my creative process. A few years ago I noticed an interesting change in my work depending on the type of music I was listening to. I also discovered that certain music tended to bring out much more creative ideas quicker than other types of music. In short, certain genres in music influence creativity greater than other genres. Ambient, R&B and electronic hip-hop beats tend to bring out the most creative ideas and increase productivity in my experience. 

So this week I thought it would be dope to create a playlist for others. Check it out! 

What do you listen to when you're creating? Feel free to share your playlists in the comments section! Myself and others are always trying to discover new music. 

Levitate, Levitate, Levitate, Levitate....

I absolutely adore levitation photos, but have never tried in a way in which I was really proud to showcase on the internet. While in Galveston, Me and Tiye had plenty of time to explore and we found ourselves in a 8-story abandoned building. While doing portraits, we decided to give them a go.

Here's what we came up with...

Levitation shots are really fun and easy. Here's what you do..

* Set your camera to a high shutter speed and continual burst (if it has it).

* Get your subject to jump and keep their faces calm (not strained from the jump) and their hands/arms/feet in a certain position.

* It's really important to catch the photo while they are on the up of the jump. If you catch them on the way down their hair and clothing fly upwards, ruining the illusion.

* Try out lots of different poses. We tried running in the air, jumps into handstands, horizontal leans and more. Some people even get amazing results when they jump into lotus position.

* Make sure your model is agile. The neater they can keep their body with straight legs, high jumps and good muscular control, the better. The more all over the place they look in the photo, the more it looks like a jump rather than a levitation. And they shouldn't be the type who are scared to fall. In a lot of these poses we ended up face first into the sand, but it was really fun :D

This weeks photo challenge: Tag @VYRLCODesign and use the Hashtags #Levitatevyrl to create a follow train of your best levitation shots!

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Budget Travel: Why sleep in a hotel when you can sleep in boat?


Ok so, this Galveston trip happened by complete accident. I don’t want to make this a long story but basically myself and my roommate, Tiye, was supposed to go to Austin, Texas Friday afternoon. Something happened at the car rental place that deterred us from driving there so we decided to freestyle a whole trip to Galveston since our bags were already packed. 

And as you know. I’m always down for adventure. 

Instantly, we made new plans. We were able to book a stay at our timeshare for $50 for Saturday/Sunday with Holiday Inn Club Vacations Galveston Seaside Resort . We were lucky that my parents timeshare had available rooms for Saturday/Sunday. However, we still did not have a place to stay that night.    Immediately we began to search for inexpensive lodging and started with Airbnb.  I am almost ALWAYS on a tight budget, but that doesn’t stop my need to wanderlust and so Airbnb has became my prime source for traveling.  Instantly we saw a sailboat listed for $69. Excitingly my roommate said "OMG! Let's book it!"....and then we booked it to Galveston. 

Since we booked the boat the day of the trip, we weren't sure if the owners would be ready for us to come so soon. Usually Airbnb hosts need a full 24 hours notice. We contacted the owner/host, Samantha, through Airbnb and heard back almost immediately.  I told her about myself and how my roommate and I was coming to Galveston on a completely impulsive whim. We we're told to meet her at the Galveston Yacht Club. Once we met, we learned that she is a portrait painter and then we was given a briefing on the basics of the boat and the location of certain amenities around the club. 

Tiye and I loaded our things onto the boat and then did some photography for the rest of the evening afterwards.

Not only was the whole "sleeping on a boat" experience wonderful, my Host completely outdid herself. She left us with a list of coffee shops, best restaurants and activities in the area!  She gave us great tips on what to see and do while we were in Galveston. 

 The next time you are planning a trip, whether it's a short overnight stay in Galveston or you're just feeling adventurous and want to experience living on a boat for a day. Check the link out below. 

Special Thanks to Amanda (owner of the sailboat)* for being an amazing host!*


Want to spend a night in a sailboat under stars in Galveston? You can book below!


And for those who are just here for the pics..... 

Photo Locations: Galveston Yacht Club, Abandoned building (9 story building on Avenue E and 22nd), Galveston Seawall, Holiday Inn Resort Galveston - On the Beach


 I am finding more and more that these experiences are quite often the BEST ones.  You know, the ones that your brain wouldn't even allow you to have.  The unplanned, spontaneous, DROP IN YOUR LAP magical moments that lead to amazing memories and thus I challenge you to try to do something a little outside of your comforts with those you love. Already have? Tell me about it below? Tell me about your most spontaneous outing? and please... share you favorite Texas Airbnb's.