This is something that comes up a lot in creative freelance work. You’re always going to get that one client who wants to convince you to work for exposure. Work to put it in your portfolio. In the creative field it’s common to encounter someone who feels like your work isn’t really “work.” There’s even a website dedicated to these encounters.
My opinion has always been your work has value. Never work for free.* Yes, that was an asterisk. Because there are some situations where it’s ok to work for “free.”
Here’s a good example: Internships are ok to work for free because you’re getting school credit, a letter of recommendation, and real-world experience you can talk about during interviews. Although, I would highly recommend asking for a stipend because transportation costs can be murder on a student’s wallet.
Ok, technically that’s not really working for free. You’re getting compensated in some way. If your only benefit from working is exposure, then you should walk away. Exposure is something people die from. Seriously, exposure doesn’t even work for entertainers. But if you’re still undecided, follow this big helpful flowchart.