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Summary: If you're a professional writer, it goes against grain to write for free. But it may just be best move you ever made.
Total words: 850
The Writer's Dilemma: Should You Write For Free?
Copyright (c) 2002 by Angela Booth
If you're a professional writer, should you ever write for free? I used to be adamant that that way lies madness. However, I've changed my mind. Sort of.
I still believe that if you're writing for a major publication which accepts advertising, you should be paid, and paid well. If a magazine, newspaper or Web site charges thousands of dollars for advertising, they can afford to pay writer for content which delivers eyeballs to that advertising. Without writers, there would be no advertising, and publication wouldn't exist.
However, there are problems.
=> The problems with paying writers' markets
Here are several of problems I've identified:
* Declining pay rates for writers. If you write for major magazines, you know that you're getting paid less today than you were in eighties.
* Stiff competition. You send your query in, and never hear. This is understandable. Major magazines receive hundreds of queries every week. If they replied to them all, staff would never get anything else done.
* Editor churn. Even ten years ago, if you sold to a major magazine, you formed a relationship with editor. You sold her other pieces over next year or two. Nowadays you're lucky if editor is still with magazine when issue with your article in it hits newsstands.
* Slow payment in tough times. Even with pay on acceptance markets, you may wait months for your check.
* Wasting time. You can spend days wracking your brain and researching, to find perfect story for a particular market, and then receive reply, thanks, but: "We're running a story on that in our next issue" or "We've just signed a writer for that".
What's upshot of all these problems? If you can't stand heat, get out of kitchen. I've turned to copywriting, that is, writing for businesses, rather than put up with hassles of writing for magazines.
=> The benefits of writing for free
It makes sense to write for free if you're being paid in other ways.
For example, as promotion. My sister and I have just partnered in a new Web site Digital-e --- Info to Go:
I've been happily writing articles to promote site for a few weeks now. I send my articles out far and wide and hope that ezine editors and Web site owners will publish them for free. It's not really writing for free, it's quid pro quo because in exchange for using my articles, publications include my Resource Box, which includes a link to my site.