"Required reading" for today's smart writer.

"Required reading" for today's smart writer.
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Monday, June 7, 2010

Should You Blog For Free?

A few months ago, I was reading a question posted to a popular forum for writers and bloggers.

A young woman, relatively new to the blogging world, but whom had a pretty decent portfolio in publishing work in different genres, was eager to start a "career" in blogging.

On one job that she happened upon, the requirements were realistic and the topics requested were within her range of interests and experience.

She was pleased as punch!
There was just one problem.
The guy (potential employer) told her that she would have to work for 3 months for free, and they would discuss pay after that trial period.

Confused, she asked an "expert" in the field for feedback.
Maybe you've experienced something similar on your path to success.

Should you or shouldn't you blog for free?
Well...the answer is yes and no.

Here are a few factors to consider.

1. It's a new site---Is it a quality publication, but perhaps new? There's nothing wrong with writing or blogging for free, if you are passionate about the subject matter and the publication. Free work is one of the potential down-sides of start-ups. It's your call. I still work for free, even though I have established enough "credits" not to have to. With one publication that I contribute to for free currently, I do so because the blog owner is just so sweet to work with, and she seems to get so excited about everything I write! Not just that, it's a quality site that I'm happy to be associated with.

2. You're a new blogger. Sometimes I'm really amazed at how many folks feel they should be paid for their writing without paying their dues. Huh? Before you seek cash seek to hone your craft. Sometimes the experience can be more valuable than a few bucks from blogging efforts.

3. The cause is worthy! Perhaps you feel strongly about animal rights, or immigration, or education, and there's a site that does a good job highlighting relevant issues that mirror your principles. Go for it! You'll feel that you have made a difference; and that's worth being proud of.

4. Consider that nothing in writing or blogging is really for "free". Sometimes you get paid in exposure. Sometimes the fringe benefits might add up in "new friends" and important networking opportunities. Sometimes you get paid upfront. Sometimes you get paid down the line. You alone have to decide what's most important based upon your goals, your experience, and your lifestyle.

Don't blog for free for long. And never if you feel taken advantage of.

What's your take on the topic? Have you ever blogged for free? Would you?



  1. Great points. I think they can apply to other writing too. As you said, there are many factors to consider. I've tossed the general topic around a lot. My husband's thoughts - he compares writing for free to his job (finish carpenter); he doesn't go into people's homes and work for free, so why should I work for free. But he didn't march into their homes without paying his dues either, he learned his craft, etc. I think a good balance is necessary, and it may take a bit to find it.

    It's a shame that there are so many blogs, sites, and publications that take advantage of writers by not paying, or paying less than minimum wage. I know, there are the exceptions that you pointed out, and I agree completely. I'm talking about the full color glossy magazines and professional websites. I realize, being self employed, that budgets can be tight and all, but without their writers, they have no publication. As I said, I've gone around about this topic a lot:)

    The only blogging I've done so far is for my own blog, which of course is free. I'd pay myself but it would have to be in chocolate at this point. I expect to blog for free for friends and certain other situations, but if it is a regular job like thing, I'd want to get paid. For as you mentioned on my blog today (and thanks, btw) serious blogging takes time and commitment. Who knew? :)

    So, there's my rambling two cents for the day...
    Good topic, thanks!

  2. Karen,

    Thanks for your thoughts here. You're right; it is a shame that so many publications fail to pay writers. I like the analogy your husband uses. But the difference between other professionals and writers is sometimes the industry dictates and norms. Often we're "expected" to wait for pay, and it (sometimes) unfortunately goes with the territory.

  3. Interesting point you raised, Jennifer.

    Personally, I think it's okay to blog for free. If I was that lady though I'll keep my options open. Sure I'll blog for free, but I'll also use the opportunity to do more publicity for myself and if something comes along before the 3 month free blogging period, I'm moving on unless they want to consider paying me of course.

    I think it comes down to knowing what you're worth, believing in yourself and making that extra effort.

  4. Tola,

    Thanks for your thoughts today.
    You have some good points. And you're right; it does boil down to self-worth and extra effort.

    Enjoy your day.

  5. Nice article. And here is my invitation for you to guest blog and answer "what is a blog to you."

    Please have a look at this post and write a blog post for readers of Fine Art of Blogging. Here is your invitation:


    I hope you consider it a worthy cause.

  6. Jennifer Brown BanksJune 8, 2010 at 10:47 AM

    Thanks so much for writing, Shirazi, and for the invite. I'll check it out soon and get back to you.

  7. Many thanks. I shall look forward to reading and publishing your post. Shirazi

  8. I think it's OK to start for free, but like you said, don't do it for long unless it's your own.

  9. Jennifer Brown BanksJune 12, 2010 at 1:24 AM

    Thanks for adding to the mix, Marcie.:-)

  10. I agree with you on the part that creates a path to improving your writing. If you really get to accomplish this , everything else is secondary. If you have literary gold to deliver,you will always sell.

  11. Jennifer Brown BanksJanuary 11, 2011 at 6:51 PM

    Hi Carlos,

    Thanks for sharing your thoughts. I appreciate it.