I don’t know where to begin because there are so many things wrong with this.

  1. Do you think big “name-droppable” brands are going to work with an inexperienced freelancer who has no portfolio and struggles to find their first clients, even if it’s for free? There’s still an incredible risk that they don’t get any good work out of it and the whole thing was a waste of time (which is very likely if the freelancer is inexperienced). I can’t imagine what kind of recognisable brand would put themselves in that situation, when they have the resources to hire a reputable, experienced pro instead.
  2. Even if you did get a big brand to accept your free work, that’s just one project. You don’t gain “authority” from one gig. You’re still very much a novice. Unless you want to go giving your work away for the years it takes to build up a body of work that will attract top clients. You need a whole portfolio of proven work, and a roster of satisfied clients for references. Doing free work for big players isn’t a shortcut to actual experience, unless you find a gullible client who see stars in their eyes from one recognisable logo you drop in your portfolio.
  3. Who you work for is far less important than the quality of work you produce. When a potential client looks through a portfolio, they are looking for examples of where you’ve delivered good results on a project similar to their’s— something they can relate to that will give them confidence you can deliver for them too. Even if your free work is attached to an influential business, that doesn’t excuse the work from falling short of top-notch. Smart clients will see the disconnect between how you represent yourself and what you actually produce. And if you do have the ability to produce the world-class work an influential client would expect, then you damn well don’t need to be working for free as you should be able to command a good rate.

I’m a UX/UI designer from Auckland, New Zealand. Writing about freelancing & business for indie designers & creatives at https://solowork.co

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