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Welcome to Season 2 Episode 6 of the Creative Business Success Podcast! I’m psyched about today’s episode because we’re going to be talking about something you don’t hear a lot in creative business circles: how working for exposure can be GOOD for your business! Elizabeth, the artist behind By Elizabeth Hope, is joining me today to share how and when exposure can be truly beneficial for your business’s bottom line and how to figure out when it’s okay to work for exposure.

Here’s a cheat sheet of some of the episode highlights:

Elizabeth’s intro, 1:03
“Exposure is the bad guy!” 2:05
Elizabeth’s experiences with working for exposure, 2:45
How to find the right opportunities to work for exposure, 5:29
Know your audience before working for exposure, 6:57
Working for exposure when starting your creative business, 10:13
Working for exposure as practice for working with clients, 11:06
Should you get paid for other work before working for exposure? 12:41
One of the most effective digital marketing methods, 15:17
Get creative with the value from working for exposure, 17:51
How to use working for exposure as marketing, 18:26
How to use working for exposure as business networking, 21:02
Presenting yourself professionally while working for exposure, 21:41
Improving your creative business through working for exposure, 22:23
Choosing when and who to work for exposure, 24:22
Finding GREEN flags before working for exposure, 25:53
Other times to work for exposure, 27:01
Vetting someone before working for exposure, 28:47
Elizabeth’s closing thoughts on working for exposure, 31:34
Where to connect with Elizabeth, 33:15

Let’s dive deeper into a few of these key takeaways…

1 | Know your value when working for exposure

If you’re working for exposure simply because you don’t think anyone will pay you for your creative work – STOP. That is the worst time to work for exposure and it’ll only degrade your confidence as a creative entrepreneur. We mentioned this several times in this episode because it’s such an important point.

Some folks are confident enough in their creative work before they make a sale that it’s okay for them to work for exposure before that. If that’s not you, though, wait until you make a few sales before you seek out or accept exposure work. Knowing your own value will help you communicate that to your work-for-exposure clients and keep you from getting suckered into a bad experience.

Working for exposure can be good for creative entrepreneurs, but you have to know yourself. Give yourself a self-evaluation to determine if you’re mentally ready to work for exposure or if you should wait.

2 | Vet your clients before working for exposure

You may have heard Elizabeth mention that SHE sought out her work-for-exposure clients, not the other way around. This is the opposite of most work-for-exposure stories. By seeking out her clients, Elizabeth was able to validate the opportunity before accepting it.

One of Elizabeth’s key criteria for accepting a work-for-exposure project was the charities the project would support. When she and her client have a mutual goal for the project, it helps Elizabeth know they share some of the same values and that they aren’t in it to take advantage of her.

Another good way to vet a client before working for exposure is to ask if they have a plan for marketing. If you can create a marketing plan with them before starting the project, you’ll both be more likely to get good returns from the project. If they aren’t willing to create a marketing plan with you, you may need to re-evaluate the project to make sure the client is in it for the right reasons.

By vetting your clients before working for exposure, you’re setting yourself up to be a success story instead of a horror story! Look for the green flags just as much as the red flags, like we talked about in this episode, before accepting a work-for-exposure project.

3 | Find other value in working for exposure

While we’ve all heard horror stories about other creative entrepreneurs who worked for exposure, it doesn’t mean that’s the case for everyone. Elizabeth is a great example of this! At the time of this recording, she was working on two projects that she was doing for exposure.

The key difference in Elizabeth’s story is that she knows exactly what value SHE is getting from these projects. Yes, she’s giving value to the businesses she’s working with, but she also has a solid plan to get a monetary return for her investment of time. If you go into a work-for-exposure project with a plan in place to get a financial return, you’ll be in a much better place than many creative entrepreneurs.

Whenever you work for exposure, there should be a solid plan in place for you to get a monetary gain in the end. It may not be directly from the project, but it could be from referrals or marketing opportunities that you receive from the project. Regardless, you need to get something out of the project in the end!

Want to connect with Elizabeth?

You can find her on her website, and on Instagram @artistshope, on Facebook @artbyelizabethhope, and Pinterest @byelizabethhope. Don’t forget to subscribe to the Creative Business Success Podcast for more episodes and share your biggest takeaways in the comments!

The Creative Entrepreneurs L.A.B.