Tuesday, April 29, 2008
should you write for free?
What do you think? Are there good reasons to use your valuable freelance work-time for no pay?
It depends. Sometimes different kinds of payoffs are just as important.
Samuel Johnson said, "No man but a blockhead ever wrote, except for money."
I disagree. Sometimes there are good reasons to write for free. For example, I just started working as an editor in training for Bella Online. I'll be the blockhead Samuel Johnson talked about if this non-paying job ends up taking too much time away from paying assignments just to keep up with writing one article per week. But, I don't think it will. I'm a quick writer, and I chose a subject I'm passionate about. I have access to resources at home and many years of experience in the education field to draw on.
Many beginning and experienced writers choose to write for non-paying sites like Bella Online and Suite 101, so, what are some good reasons for doing it?
If you are a new freelance writer without a lot of writing samples to send to potential editors, this type of job can pay off pretty quickly. Bella Online encourages new writers to think of this opportunity as a free education and chance to collect 52 writing samples - one per week for a full year. Think about it. For a year a new writer (like me) will post an article per week in public view for editors and the general public to comment on - and they do! When I wrote for Suite 101 I collected some good writing samples, plus, I got regular feedback from readers knowledgeable about my subject. These types of sites also claim the exposure can jumpstart careers as a niche expert, and I suppose that could be true.
I have paid money to take online writing courses, and did find them valuable. Writing for a non-paying site is a "school" of sorts that requires you to pay in time and effort rather than tuition. There is a training period with actual required courses and deadlines. The information is valuable, especially if you are interested in writing online content.
the writing habit
If you are new, like me, it's not always easy to create a daily writing schedule. A freelance writing career requires writers to think with a business sense; get up every day and write!
One fear I've heard over and over from new writers is knowing when an article is done. Working for free as a niche editor online requires you to write and post weekly. No perseverating for weeks or months over one story, one article, one proposal is allowed when you must turn in an article every week.
So what do you think? Am I a blockhead? Do you ever write for free?