Useful lessons for freelancers – #9: Volunteer Your Services

Volunteer your services. Better to be working for nothing than working at nothing. Most charities would love to hear from you. Help people. Make a difference. Do something wonderful.

And you don’t have to volunteer for charities – many small businesses struggle to exist. Help a friend or a friend’s friend to succeed in their new venture. Each bit of experience you collect has massive potential benefits:

  • CV enhancement
  • New contacts
  • Karma credits
  • Testimonials

So I recommend that you embrace any opportunity to get involved. Of course, be careful not to get a reputation as the person who does things for free.


  1. Hi Leif,

    Great website, blog – everything! I am (quite literally) just starting out in copywriting with limited experience and no certificate saying “I’m a copywriter”. My contact book is empty, likewise my bank account. But I really want to do this. I NEED to do this! Any pointers much appreciated.

    Found this post on working for charities to build experience very interesting. Who (and how!) should one approach?

    Thanks in advance,

    Comment by Natalie — January 15, 2009 @ 7:13 am

  2. Hi Natalie – glad you found some useful information here.

    As for contacting charities, in my experience the bigger ones won’t be very responsive (the wheels of admin can turn very slowly) so you may be better off approaching small local charities. And if charities don’t appreciate the value of copywriting then offer to help local businesses – or your friends’ businesses.

    Start telling people that you are starting out as a copywriter, and that you’re looking for opportunities to practice so will basically work for free. It’s probably the best way to build a portfolio when you have no experience.

    I recommend you check Freelance Advisor (, who I also write for – they have lots of good advice for freelancers and in the next few weeks they’re releasing a guide to starting out as a freelancer, which might be perfect for you.

    Oh, and have you read my post on creating a web presence? Now’s a good time to start. And get business cards from – and if you’re in Brighton pop along to the Brighton Farm ( to chat to some friendly freelancers.


    Comment by Leif Kendall — January 15, 2009 @ 7:26 am

  3. Yup, good advice. It also holds in normal career change … when you want to change direction, volunteer at something worthwhile as you get to take responsibility for things you could never hope for if you applied for a waged job. Definitely applied to writing work. Mind you, you have to be clear about deciding where freebies end and mortgage payments rule …

    All the best.


    Comment by Russell — January 20, 2009 @ 10:36 pm

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