Monday, October 6, 2008

Would you accept this offer?

Posted in writing tagged , , at 10:35 pm by Elaine Petrowski

These days lots of people seem to be starting  up online businesses, web commerce sites,  business blogs etc. Because they need content to fill these sites, many are seeking freelance writers.

Good news for writers, you say? There’s just one hitch. Have you noticed that more than the occasional ad  says something like  “We’re a start-up and don’t have a lot of money, so we pay little or nothing. But we do offer great exposure”.

Since when did freelance writers become the tool with which others hope to take their potentially high-trafficked, income-generating sites (great exposure, right?)  to the top of the heap, for free?

As a freelance writer, I learned long ago you can’t take “exposure” to the grocery store. Or pay for necessities like fuel and clothing with clips or links.

Why do people insist that writers should be willing to work for little or nothing? Freelance writing is a BUSINESS. Perhaps even a CAREER.  In fact,  a business just like the aforementioned blogs or web commerce sites.

Here’s a thought. What would happen if these same entrepreneurs suggested the “great exposure” idea to their auto mechanic? “Fix my car for free and you’ll get some great exposure when I drive it around town? ”  Would they have the nerve to try that idea on the house painter, dentist, hairdresser, dog groomer etc.?

Am I ranting?


  1. CS said,


    I really get this. I tried to sell a story to a magazine—right out of j school, it was a class assignment I had done, profiling a non-profit—and let them see the full text. They liked it and wanted to publish it. The owner/publisher called me up to tell me, then said they couldn’t pay for it. When I said, sorry, no, you can’t publish it, his response was: “It’s a charity. It’s great exposure for them.”

    “Yes,” I told him, “they are a charity. I’m not. I expect to be paid for my work.”

    I’m not sure he really got it, but they did pay me a small—very small—fee for my 500 words.


  2. darkroomdreams said,

    Hear hear! Excellent point! Definitely not ranting. People assume writers are desperate for exposure when really we kind of need money to live on.

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