Should freelance writers ever work for free? Posted on December 15, 2018 by Jacob Jans in Uncategorized 21 comments on “Should freelance writers ever work for free?” Morena Duwe on December 17th, 2018 - 10:54am This concept is contingent on so many factors—it’s not so black and white. Ideally, no writer should ever write for free but unfortunately that is not the reality for most, especially for an up-and-comer. As a travel and music journalist, I’ve written in exchange for festival/concert tickets, all-expenses-paid trips, and have even written free copy for friends and family. Paid gigs should always take precedence, but if an opportunity comes that you feel is more valuable than money, I say take it. Whether that be a byline in a reputable publication, a chance to travel for free, a backstage pass, a notable interview, a favor for a loved one, or even just a writing project that brings you joy, only you can be the judge of its value, and value is not always equated with money. Reply Nora King on December 17th, 2018 - 8:12am Employers in other lines of work do not expect new employees or temps to work for free. Why should we be any different? Reply Bonnie on December 16th, 2018 - 6:24am Harlan Ellison: Pay the Writer https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mj5IV23g-fE Reply Randall on December 15th, 2018 - 9:45pm No fracking way. I never work for free. I set my own prices and test the market. I get more respect when I know what my work is worth because others pick up on that sense of confidence. If they don’t want to pay what I am worth, we simply do not work together. Reply Chelle Cordero on December 15th, 2018 - 8:47pm The only time I ever “worked” for free was as a volunteer with a non profit and i helped them out with a fundraising campaign, I willingly donated my time and skills. If I am working. I darn sure want reasonable monetary compensation. Reply Lynn on December 15th, 2018 - 8:25pm Ah, yes. The joy of writing for free. A prospective client once told me that if I wrote for free, he would be more than willing — willing — to work with me. Let that sink in. Reply Liz on December 15th, 2018 - 3:51pm When I started 10 1/2 years ago I did write for free. I had no degree no training no experience. I had the idea the concept the column title and everything that went with it. I was putting it in the free paper because I wanted exposure. The only non negotiable items on my list was my byline and I kept the copyright. Two and a half years later, they moved me to the subscription paper. I informed them, no I didn’t ask, that now they owed me the dignity I paying for my words if they were using my name to sell papers. They weren’t happy. I beat them to death with the words dignity and respect. I didn’t get much but that wasn’t the point. I went up from there. 4 months ago I self syndicated my column across the state and we’ll go National after the first of the year. Your question, should you ever write for free, check out all the facts, see what you have to offer, but don’t ever ever give up your byline or your copyrights. Reply Joyce Laird on December 15th, 2018 - 2:46pm NEVER! Have more respect for yourself. There are more venues available today that pay for good writing talent than ever before. Put forth the effort & you will reap the benefits. I’ve been freelancing for decades. It never pays to “write on spec”. I learned that lesson early in my career. Think about it. Would your mechanic fix your car free? You pay for your goods & services. Why should your work be different? Your talent is worth it. What you charge is up to you but charge something. Reply Chantal Gaudiano on December 15th, 2018 - 2:05pm If you cannot afford to write for free, do not write for free. If you can afford to write the occasional piece pro Bono, and if you want to, to appear in a given market, then do so. But I do not respect places that refuse to pay at least 20 crnts a word or who pay writers only for page views. Way to starve or become homeless. Reply Gabriella Keren on December 15th, 2018 - 1:44pm No, I don’t think it’s good idea to write for free. But some employers make the assumption one should because they don’t consider writing as actual work. It’s time for writers to explain how many hours they invested in an assignment, how many times they edited, how far they researched their facts, etc. Quality comes at a cost. Also, the market is full of writers willing to do $5 jobs, so they have cheapened the trade and the quality as well. Sometimes to get the job, you have to give an employer a good deal but never work for free. A short piece or trial test to assess a writer’s aptitudes is fine. But get the message that writing is work. Reply jbdean on December 16th, 2018 - 9:47pm If writing isn’t “actual work,” let’s see THEM do it instead of hiring us! 😉 Reply ace on December 15th, 2018 - 1:15pm You’re not just cheating yourself if you work for free…you’re cheating your fellow writers by encouraging a cheapening of the value of writing as an occupation. You are encouraging the “race to the bottom” competition and a perception of writing as “just a hobby” anyone can do. HELL, NO. Reply Marjorie Preston on December 15th, 2018 - 12:46pm Bad practice. I’ve done barter arrangements but would hesitate even to do those nowadays, because I’m so irked by the whole 3 cents-a-word stuff I see on job sites. When I was starting out and making no money, I wrote resumes for $25 apiece. That same company now pays $20 — even less than the pittance they paid in 2013! Shame on them and on anyone who rips off writers. Reply marietta kosovsky on December 15th, 2018 - 12:14pm “Effect the industry?” Shouldn’t it be “affect the industry?” I certainly could be wrong; please tell me. I’m learning Reply GAIL GIROUARD on December 15th, 2018 - 12:18pm You are right, marietta. Reply Ryan Griffin on December 17th, 2018 - 2:52pm It just depends on how you’re using it. Affect is the verb. Using ‘effect’ as a verb instead of a noun just means ‘to create an effect’. “She was affected by the tornado.” “The mayor used the tornado to effect change in the community.” OR “The mayor used the tornado to create an effect of change in the community.” Reply Trish Weems on December 15th, 2018 - 12:11pm Freelance writing is like any other job but less appreciated by those who “USE” writers for their own greed and financial benefit…where’s the love in that concept? Reply Jakob on December 15th, 2018 - 12:03pm Hey r not getting paid to.write this Reply Kimberly on December 15th, 2018 - 11:59am EVEN when I first started working as a freelancer, and I was super green in the field, I NEVER worked for free. I was getting paid. It wasn’t a lot, but I was definitely getting compensated. It’s not a good idea for freelancers to start accepting the whole “work for free” culture because it is eventually going to effect the industry for us writers because clients will start to say, “Well fine, if you won’t work for free, I’ll just find someone who will.” If I am writing for a platform that uses the “exposure in exchange for your free work” excuse, this is BS because any website that TRULY provides IMPACTFUL exposure means that they have a lot of views and traffic, which, in turn, should mean that they make sufficient revenue to PAY their writers. And if they don’t make enough money to pay you because they’re not bringing in enough traffic, then I don’t see how a freelancer would be gaining any exposure to begin with! Reply Trish Weems on December 15th, 2018 - 11:53am Why would a freelance writer work for free unless he or she is just getting started without a professional work portfolio to show potential clients? Reply Sheila Mart on December 15th, 2018 - 11:49am NO! Reply Leave a Reply Cancel replyYour email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *Comment * Name * Email * Website Notify me via e-mail if anyone answers my comment.