If you freelance you will know that it is truly stressful. The most obnoxious part of being a freelancer is that clients think it’s free! Even your friends do! Ok, so how am I suppossed to pay the bills? How would you like to work for free for a random stranger and MAYBE get paid IF they become successful or MAYBE get stock options if you work a significant amount..?!
Just because you chose the creative route to provide for yourself, it does not mean that you have to give unconditional freebies. If they have a tight budget that is not your problem, give a discount or do a trade but do not slave off because you are a very sweet person.
An exception is for it to be a gift to a friend or family member. For example, designing a couple’s wedding invitations instead of getting a blender from their registry.
It’s ridiculous how common these requests are becoming very ordinary for the average Joe. Someone I know (or knew), would just contact me when she wanted new Facebook profile pictures and I would take her portraits. But one day I was fed up and said I charge now and I can give you a friend and family discount. I haven’t seen her or heard from her in two in a half years!
If people genuinely love you and want you to succeed, they will make up for your time and efforts, not necessarily in a financial way. I assisted a Photographer friend’s photo shoot for a couple hours, in return I asked for free time at her studio as a trade. A win win for both!
I have made many free designs for non-profits and didn’t even get a thank you or credit for my work. My advice to you is making sure you get a tax write off from the organization or at least credit for your work to be used on your website and portfolio.
Learn from my mistakes, don’t make free designs for start-ups either – I never got a penny royalty from them even thought they sold a couple of my designs.