15 Witty Replies To Use Whenever Someone Says You Should Work For Free


I met a designer lady once to talk about a brief job over coffees.

She mentioned upfront she forgot her wallet so I offered to pay; instead she went on: “I won’t pay at all – You can tell me how much PR is gonna cost and I’ll give you this dress and this bag – together they’re a couple hundred euros, you know, I did not even think you’ll ask me money, in my world this is how we do it, you give me a logo, I give you a sock etc…”

She emailed me the dress and the bag links next day; I never replied but I wish I had the guts back then to tell her those are very well tailored things – that will unfortunately never pay my rent.

Here and there, I still get photography jobs turned down when the client suddenly remembers they have a cousin with a camera.

The freelancing world is rough. We’ve all had tables turned when we were just starting to plan a big career investment, had clients bail out on us for our younger, less prepared but more eager to affirm themselves interns, or simply got turned down because our work was not considered eligible for pay.

These are 15 auto-reply options you can feel free to use if you ever find yourself disrespected by a client, or in a situation such as the one described above, mostly when you need to reinforce the fact that creative people don’t live off coffee, flowers and social media tags. 

1. “Yes, your company has a lot of potential, but unprepared interns will cost you way more rookie mistakes than a professional, on the long run.”

2. “You must be very old fashioned, as Colonialism ended about a century ago.”

3. “Those social media mentions are very nice, but I’m afraid I have to eat.”

4. “Advertising my own blog sounds cool, but I prefer the anonymity well spent cash grants you.”

5. “Thank you for considering me for this position. Unfortunately I can’t accept the proposal right now. I may be able to recommend someone else in the future, however no one suited comes to my mind right now.”

6. “I bet you’re one of those people who always think of as many as 6 impossible things before breakfast.”

7. “No, graphic design is not something you do in Paint.”

8. “Have you considered crowd funding?”

9. “Yes, I’m doing it because I’m loving it, not because I’m hungry about money. So are you, right?”

10. “The only advice I can give you free of charge is google all your questions. I found mesmerizing things out there.”

11. “That’s such a cool project. I almost feel bad I can’t be in it.”

12. “I thought we had something going on. I guess we’re not compatible.”

13. “You’re so funny.”

14. “I don’t work for free.”

15. “Oh, it sounds terrible that you can’t pay me. I bet you can’t even pay for this ginormous Chai Latte. Quick, let’s run before the bill comes!” Thought Catalog Logo Mark

Ioana Cristina Casapu is a book author, photographer and producer living life in transit.

Keep up with Ioana on Instagram and ioanacasapu.com

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