Standing in the Waldorf-Astoria, a conversation between Don Draper (the ad man of the series) & Conrad Hilton:
Hilton has just asked Draper what he thinks of the latest Hilton ad campaign, featuring Jerry, the mouse from Tom & Jerry, in the Hilton hotel in New York.
Don: “I think you wouldn’t be in the presidential suite right now if you did work for free.”
Conrad: “Don, this is friendly.”
Don: “Connie, this is my profession. What do you want me to do?”
How often do people come to you, expecting you to do work for free that is your profession? This is a predicament that lots of people face, and it is a struggle to deal with. You don’t want to hurt your friends, but you also want to be respected for your work, your livelihood, your JOB. Creative types already struggle with asking for what they are worth, but then you run into a situation like this and it all goes downhill fast.
I’ve had some really great experiences where I helped out a friend and the end results were worth more in the long run than money would have been, but I’ve also had a few not-so-great ones experiences, and they have burned me to the point that I finally had to set a policy for this. Realistically, I probably should charge them the same thing I would charge anyone else, but I am not comfortable with that. So instead I take a percentage off of my normal rates for our closest friends & family. It works for me.
The amount doesn’t matter — the point is to have a PLAN in place before the situation comes up. That way, you can sound confident and comfortable when you’re approached about working for a friend.
And remember, sometimes rules are made to be broken.
As for Don Draper? He did end up giving Conrad Hilton his very brief opinion for free (no one wants to think of a mouse when they are thinking about hotels), and in the end he won even more work from him. Sometimes you need to know when to take the calculated risk.