Freelance Pro Tip #29871041: Know Your Own Worth.
You're a smart, talented, nice person who deserves to get paid properly for their time and talent.
Don't get conned into working hard and putting your skills to use in exchange for the promise of "exposure" and/or "press." Some folks call that a collaboration. However, a collaboration (to me, at least) is when both parties benefit from the effort put in. If you feel like you'd be taking on most of the burden it's okay to say no.
A lawyer friend of mine put it this way: You wouldn't walk into Target and say, "Hey, can I have some free boxes of cards? I'll tell all my clients I got them at Target. What great exposure for you!" Sounds absurd, right? Because IT IS.
I'm quite happy to do work for free when I genuinely care about the project or person. It gives me warm fuzzies and puts good vibes into the world and I'm all for that.
If someone approaches you about a project but doesn't discuss compensation, it's on you to bring up the topic. Set a fair price and present it. If they balk at the cost, you have to decide if you're willing to work within their budget. If you do, great! Strip down the bang they'd be getting for their buck though. Have a price in mind that is the very least amount of money you'd do the work for and consider that your red line. If they don't budge or can't meet that baseline price, simply wish them well and walk away. Never burn bridges.
There are plenty of clients out there who are happy to pay for good work and, frankly, life's too short to settle for any less than you deserve.
p.s. If you want more motivation, check out the CreativeMornings video below.