September 24, 2008
You Want ME to Write for FREE?! Ha Ha Ha!!!
I just read your article about the blogger, Nina Amir, who wants you to write on her blog for free. I could be mistaken, but at a cursory glance of her blog, it seems she's already used large chunks, if not whole articles from your newsletter to beef up her blog for the month of April.
I believe that's why she's been courting you to write for her blog, most of her blog relies on your material anyway. I was somewhat taken aback when I looked at it, as it seems she's just completely regurgitated your articles on the Amazon controversy onto her blog. Maybe I'm mistaken, like I said, I only looked at it briefly, but it certainly seems that way.
Real writing takes work, agony, blood, sweat and tears. A real writer knows that, and doesn't expect it to come cheap. A "cut and paster" just doesn't get it.
Thanks so much for your championing writers, rights, Angela. We all need to be reminded not to sell ourselves short.
By asking you to write for free, the blog owner showed she had not done her homework. Anyone who has been a subscriber to WritersWeekly knows your stand on writing for free. And if she was not familiar with your work, she should have at least read a few back issues (last week's would have certainly make it clear) before approaching you. This is as bad as freelance writers who send queries to magazines without firsthand knowledge of the publication. The lesson here is to never call or write to someone with a request without doing some research on the person or publication.
This is a tired argument from the print-only days, but with all due respect (don't you hate that phrase?), anyone who has a product or service to sell and markets it effectively writes for free a lot. Guest blog posts, forum participation, their own blog, guest articles, book excerpts posted online, etc. are all valid and respected ways to increase your exposure (yes, exposure works), get inbound links, and sell whatever you have to sell. Otherwise you wouldn't get 83 million results when you put "free articles" into Google. It's standard SEO practice to post articles linking back to your site and it's not a coincidence that freelance rates continue to go down, not up.
I agree with everything you told the person who approached you, but only because her blog has no traffic or following. If it were BoingBoing, the Huffington Post, or the Kos Report requesting a guest piece from you, the traffic could be so high it would crash your server. You'd be nuts to turn it down unless you don't care about growing your business.
The average person trying to promote something sees spending 30 minutes on an article as the same thing as doing a 30-minute interview or spending 30 minutes editing their website. If I write something and 100,000 people see it, or if a radio host interviews me and 100,000 people listen, or a magazine journalist interviews me and 100,000 people read it, what's the difference? My time is worth the same regardless---so the only question is whether that 30 minutes gets me $25 worth of something in return. In all three cases, yes.
I believe we're entering a fundamentally different media age, when writers need to be entrepreneurs looking at the whole picture rather than thinking of themselves as hired guns who get paid to do a specific job over and over---especially when that job is so easily done by someone else not expecting to get paid for everything they tap out at a keyboard. (Witness all the "user-generated content" out there---no arm-twisting necessary.)
I have always paid writers from the get-go on my travel sites, but I still write for a few that don't. Doing that has helped both of us quite a bit in terms of book sales. Compensation goes beyond a paycheck for a specific task.
I much enjoyed your article about the woman who asked you to blog for free. It made me recall that CNet (and you know they've got money, right?) tried to sweet-talk me into writing an entire blog for them for free. Told me how popular my articles with them were and then, when I asked how much the compensation would be, they said, "Oh, we're just starting this and we have no money." Maybe some day.
Then I asked the editor if she gets paid every week. "Yes," she said.
My response, "Well, if you get paid, why shouldn't I?
That was the end of that conversation and the end of me writing for CNet. Their loss, IMHO.
Your article on "writing for free" reminded me of something.
My dad was a sculptor. As you may know, they don't make much. So he did all kinds of odd jobs-teaching, repairs, commissions, etc. A man called him to fix an antique sculpture he owned, and asked what it would cost. My dad told him what his time was worth. (I could hear the guy, he spoke so loudly).
The man starting bartering, throwing his weight around. "Don't you know who I am?", he asked. Dad said no, (because he didn't).
So the man berated Dad, telling him how much "pull" he had, and how he "knew people", finally saying, "My daughter could fix this for half that price".
Dad responded, "So have her do it", and hung up.
Keep up the good work.
Your "write for fee" article struck a chord with me. I once sat for over an hour with a guy who was starting a magazine and wanted me to be his editor. After discussing the magazine and what he wanted, he looked me in the eye and said, "Do you charge for this (editing)?" Not what would you charge but do you charge!
I never saw his magazine hit print. Guess he never found a free editor.
I had my fill of the old "you,ll get lots of publicity" some time later when one newsletter publisher said she would pay me in "copies." I emailed her that when my mortgage company and grocery store, etc. accepted "copies" as payment I would be happy to write for her.
Surprise! I never heard back from her.
I'm not usually a rude person but I had lots of these experiences. It must be the free in freelance. I started saying I was a writer periodóno freelance.
Just finished reading "You Want ME to Write for FREE" and felt the need to let you know that to those of us 'as yet unknown,' you're the Betty Friedan of writers! (And my hero.)
Writers who haven't yet broken out into the larger, high-paying markets are constantly being lured into writing for free, to "build their credits." It gets tired. If a publisher likes my writing enough to publish it, I should be compensated. MY time is just as valuable.
Thanks again for your support!
I also worked briefly at a web start-upóthat CEO wanted hundreds of articles for free, and then got annoyed when the few we could scrounge up weren't living up to his standards. (Like a shoplifter complaining about product quality.)
I also interviewed at a well-established company that had started a for-profit conference division. Again, the VP in charge wanted to get writers to speak for free. ("They can mention their books at the end.")
Keep the good articles coming. Have to go nowómy plumber is at my door and maybe he can fix my sink for free if I give him some publicity. :-)
Richard J. Koreto
To that I would add one more "ha." Why would anyone want someone else to write in his or her own blog? My blog is my place to say what I want, when and how. Since I've had my own website with a blog I am having so much fun with the topic of tough diseases, informing people and sharing hope as well as making people aware of my books on two rare diseases. I can't imagine what the goal of that person would be with a blog written by someone else.
I loved your article about people requesting that you write for free! I can totally identify with this. Besides being a writer and publisher, I am a minister of the Gospel of Jesus Christ. I remember one celebrity asked me to be a speaker at one of her conferences. I said yes. One of the ways that Christian organizations pay an itinerate speaker is to take up a "love offering." Depending on the size of the group, the price varies. I asked this celebrity if she was paying on a love offering basis. She replied that she didn't pay her speakers and, because of the celebrity status she held, the speakers usually got other bookings. What finally happened? She didn't have any speakers.
I am learning more and more that my time and talent are valuable. I believe that the price I charge for my services is fair for my client as well as for myself. I always give them my very best.
Thanks for a great article.
45 Caliber Books
Just wanted to thank you for posting the letter from 45 Caliber Books. I just took advantage of this marketing tool and posted my books.
Appreciate all the hard work and personal investment that goes into your newsletter.
A Fun Book Marketing Campaign!
Hello Angela and Richard,
I would like to congratulate you and those connected with the Cotton for President Campaign.
I think this is an excellent way to generate interest/traffic for Mark LaFlamme's book, Dirt: An American Campaign. In return, it provides good exposure for those who participate as a "Friend of Governor Cotton", over an extended period of time. I am a very happy participant in your initiative.
Your approach puts to shame the Amazon Best Seller Campaigns, that we often see and that claim to give away over $1000 of near worthless e-books etc. with the purchase of the book they are pushing.
Congratulations on your approach and for taking the high road in promoting Mark LaFlamme's book.
Books for Soldiers!
Found this site today through a bookmarketing network on Ning. I don't know anything else about it, but thought you might be interested because of some of the other groups you support, and I didn't know if you were aware of it or not.
Good Writing & God Bless,
P.S. Great piece on writing for free, by the way. I wish people would understand that while writing is in the art category, it also falls into the biz category and the two can live together.
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