Freelancing Doesnt Mean Writing For Free. Does it?
Writer's forums are bustling with debate over whether or not a writer should send something out for free. Some people feel that writing for free weakens the market for other writers, while some people feel that writing is an art that should be shared freely.
I personally chose freelance writing as an actual calling. I aim to do something I absolutely love to do while getting paid for it. I spend a lot of money on research materials, computer software, books, ink, and other writing tools. I also spend a good deal of time simply researching my markets. I would hope to get a decent compensation, especially when what I am writing might help some other chap make money.
With that said, I do write for free at times. I'm doing it right now. This article that you are reading isn't going to be added as a clip to any résumé of mine, but it is a simple promotional tool. It promotes me as a writer. Invariably, there are several good reasons to write for free, though there are a couple of good ones not to write for free. Below is a small list of reasons to do so.
1. In some cases, writing an article in a newly established (or small but reputable) literary journal or ezine can help a new writer develop a repertoire. Small presses usually struggle to stay afoot and cannot afford to pay their contributors any royalties. One great thing about publishing for free with some of these presses is that they may actually become larger. If that happens, well, you've already established yourself as a writer with them and you've got the clips to prove it.
2. If a writer has a book or a website to promote, he or she can write (for free, of course) articles in ezines. People who read the articles can then click on a link to the author's book or web page.
3. There are times when a message is bigger than the act of writing. For example, if a writer is looking to spread the word on a charitable organization, or has figured out a way to create world peace, well then, it might be best to shoot the article out to hundreds of places on the Net for absolutely free.
Okay, so there are some pretty decent reasons to send your work off for free, but here are some things you should keep in mind before writing for an empty hand.
1. Many websites make money from the content on their sites. They will place adds on their sites that automatically match certain keywords in the articles that are submitted. So, you don't get paid for your hard work, but the Webmaster is getting paid. Think about the sites where you are submitting your work and weigh the benefits.
2. Think about the copyright, the copyright, and don't forget to think about the copyright. (Redundancy intended). Will you retain the rights to your work? Can that 'publisher' turn around and sell your article for a profit? Any time you have something on the Internet, whether you get paid for it or not, it is considered published. Many paying entities would like to have first rights to an article or a literary piece. 'First rights' means that the article was never before published. Be very careful when posting your articles on the Net for free, especially if you can make a good penny from them from a reputable publisher.
3. Beware of vanity vultures. The Internet is swarming with people trying to make money from writers. If a 'publishing company' offers you the chance to have your work published 'for free' (free to you, and of course, free to them), be cautious. Poetry peddlers are infamous for such a lure. Poets are offered a chance to have their works published in special leather bound anthologies, but never get paid for their work. Even worse, these poets are told that they will have to pay for the anthology! Always check the company before floating your work into their lairs. You should be able to see a sample of the type of work that they publish.
In summary, it is really easy to get something you wrote somewhere. The question you must ask is whether you want to be paid for it, whether you will really gain any notoriety from it, and whether it will satisfy any promotional needs of yours.
Have fun writing.
Devrie Paradowski is an aviation weather forecaster and part time freelance writer. She has written several weather related articles for her local newspaper, "The White Falcon." Her creative pieces have been featured by "Adagio Verse Quarterly," "Meeting of the Minds Journal," "Poetry Renewal Magazine," and "Eclips E-Zine". She has also written dozens of content articles for the web, including such sites as Pagewise, Poetryscams.com, and Literaryescape.com. She is the author of a small poetry chapbook called "Something in the Dirt," which can be found at http://www.lulu.com/devrie
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