Early in my career, I was offered bylines and exposure in exchange for my precious words.
While I appreciated the help getting my name out to potential clients, I also needed a paycheck to keep food on the table. I struggled with whether or not I should write for free as a guest blogger or submit guest posts to big-name blogs.
I wondered if I should accept low-paying writing gigs to gain experience. I felt guilty, often. I hate seeing artists offered pennies for their creativity, and then I was in the same situation.
I think many new writers struggle with this balance. Where do you start? Will writing for free limit your future opportunities?
So, here’s my story. When I first started transitioning from writing for old-fashioned print media to writing online, I did indeed write for free or for unreasonably low pay.
Yes, I did the pay-per-click work, blogged for less than minimum wage and submitted guest posts.
And, if I had to do it all over again, I would do it the same way. Why?
⦁ Writing for free was good practice for meeting deadlines, working with editors and adhering to guidelines. If I was going to screw up, it might as well be with something that was for free and not part of my must-earn budget.
⦁ I made connections that lead to paying projects and referrals to other paid projects. You never know when your contact will go to a new job, and keep your name top of mind because of your writing quality and customer service skills.
⦁ I used many of my low-paying, free writing samples on writing applications. Those links in-turn became stepping stones to bigger and better projects.
⦁ My early writing helped (slowly) build my online presence, Klout score and huge cache of articles in my writing portfolio. They became the foundation for a rewarding, profitable career.
With that said, don’t write for free for long.
Do only as much work as you need to build confidence, application samples and the start of a professional social media following to promote your writing services.
Trust in your abilities and apply for paid writing gigs as soon as possible.
Most writing projects pay per word or per project. You may start out at .10 (or less!) per word, and that’s fine. You have to start somewhere. Just be sure to scale your prices as your skills improve and your social media audience grows.
Your craft is valuable and should be compensated.