By Katliegh Merrier:
Freelance writers have stressful jobs at times. Tight deadlines, grumpy editors, picky clients, and rejections can all leave even the most experienced writers a bit frazzled. On top of this, there are plenty of discrepancies on how we should best do our jobs. One of the biggest controversies within the industry is of course:
When, if ever, should freelance writers write for free?
Many experts say you should never work for free, regardless of your level of experience. Others hold fast to the idea of completing an internship of sorts – writing for free until you learn the ropes.
I’m of the opinion that there are a few reasons to disregard your purse strings for the greater good. Let’s see if you agree…
You should write for free when:
1. You’re just getting started
We all have to start somewhere. Whether you’re just starting out and are clueless about how to write online, or you want to spice up your portfolio with some shiny new clips, writing for free can certainly help you build a writing portfolio.
I started, like many of us, working for content mills. After quickly realizing there were much greener pastures just over the pitching fence, I found a blog I thought would be a good fit for my writing, and that was my big break.
2. You want to break into a new niche
Breaking into a new niche can be just as terrifying as pitching for your first paid writing gig. Just because you’re a confident copywriter, doesn’t mean you can’t have a groundbreaking new idea in the science-fiction realm, even if your previous work has had nothing to do with this.
Something as simple as typing up some compelling copy for your favorite book club for free can relieve some tension and let you adapt your writing skills to something you truly enjoy. Even if there’s no money in it, it’s worth it to do something you love that will also boost your self-confidence and expand your writing skills and contacts.
3. You want to make the world a better place
Perhaps you’re a fashion blogger by trade, who happens to have an unattested love for your pet pooch, a shelter adoptee. You’ll probably never get a chance to write about Sparky on your own blog, but the shelter you saved him from could probably use a heartwarming story from an established writer, perhaps convincing readers to reach out to abused animals.
Writing for free for charitable organizations you care about can make a real difference in your community and the lives of others – and that’s nothing to be scoffed at.
A final warning on writing for free:
I’d like to make one thing overtly clear: I’m not suggesting that you write for content mills and big corporations for only a byline or a few pennies. Writing for free doesn’t mean your writing isn’t worth payment – it just means you’re willing to take the time to either further your freelance writing career and/or help a worthy individual or organization out.
Sometimes it can even be good for your writing to let your thoughts flow freely with no invoice in mind. After all, as a freelance writer, there’s no greater experience than knowing the words you’ve labored over will truly mean something to someone else.
What about you? When, if ever, do you think freelance writers should write for free? Let me know in the comments below.
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Katliegh Merrier is a freelance writer who had her fair share of experience with content mills before deciding it was a lose-lose situation. Find out more over at her website, www.katisquickwrites.wordpress.com or connect with her on LinkedIn.
Image courtesy of Geraint Rowland via Flickr.