As a successful freelance writer, I often find myself engaging in conversations on forums and in various groups about the topic of writing for free. My position? Professional writers, or those aspiring to become professional writers, should not write for free. I’m not talking about when you write for your local community newsletter, or for a nonprofit organization you support, but about writing for outlets that make good money off the content on their pages and on their websites. Here are some of the most common arguments I hear for writing for free, and why they are just wrong.
1. I need the clips.
I get that we all need to start somewhere and that it is hard to break into paid markets when you don’t have work to show editors. However, you don’t need to line someone else’s pockets to show off your writing skills. It’s easy enough to set up your own blog and display your talents there or to write carefully crafted pitches that make editors want to assign you stories even if you are a newbie. (That’s how I got my start). “There are plenty of places that are built on the business model of exploiting writers by not paying them. Are you going to let them do that to you?” asks Gwen Moran, a seasoned New Jersey-based freelancer and co-author of The Complete Idiot’s Guide to Business Plans.