Blogging Tips: Should bloggers write for free?

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Blogging

A question that comes up a lot when you are a blogger is, should bloggers write for free? Sally explains why just sometimes it is worth considering…

Like most people, there’s not much I like more than an email dropping into my inbox offering me the opportunity to write for a new client. However, nothing zaps those warm and fuzzies faster than reading on to find that my reward for writing will be a “great link” to help raise my profile.

As a professional writer, I tend to think writing for free devalues what I do for a living, and every time someone works for free, it makes it just that bit harder for the rest of us to earn a living.

However  – as with most things – it’s not always straightforward.

If you’re a new writer or blogger, writing for free might be a good opportunity to raise your profile, gain new readers, build experience and skills and help boost your portfolio so you can get more of those paying clients we all love. And not everything we do should have a price tag attached, after all. Sometimes, we can do things because they’re fun, or challenging, or really interesting.

But it’s important to think carefully before agreeing to do anything (writing, speaking, advising) for free. Here are some questions you might want to ask:

  • How much time will this take? Is it sending a post I’ve already written, or writing a quick 300 word opinion? Or is this a 500 word feature involving talking to people and getting quotes? It’s important to value your time, after all.
  • Will I gain new skills, contacts or knowledge in taking on this job? It can be worth doing a freebie if it means you get to work with a great company you want to be involved win in future, or if you’re going to learn something you can apply to (paid) work later.
  • How great is that link? If you are being rewarded with a link to your blog, consider what that link is worth? Does the site have a great Page Rank or a huge audience? Can you ask for additional exposure – on a newsletter or website, or in the company’s customer magazine, for example?  Track the traffic a link generates and be realistic – is it worth spending an hour a week writing for one or two clicks?
  • Is everyone else getting paid? If a project is voluntary, working unpaid is no big deal. But if everyone around you is getting paid but you’re not because you’re just a blogger? That’s not good.
  • How long will this go on? If you agree to take on unpaid writing, be clear about what you’ll write and for how long, before you start charging for your time. It’s very unlikely that after six months, someone will say, “Wow, that woman has been doing such a great job for free, I think we should start paying her now.”

Of course, most of us would like to be offered buckets of cash on a regular basis, but writing for free MAY be useful, providing you’re getting enough out of the deal. What do you think? Do you expect to be paid for blogging? Or have you found free writing has been useful for you?

Sally Whittle is founder of The Tots100, Foodies100, Hibs100 and Trips100. When she’s not working she can be found blogging at Who’s The Mummy, or having fun with her daughter, Flea.

Sally is the publisher of Foodies100, the UK's largest directory of brilliant UK food and drink blogs and bloggers. Every day of the week, we promote the UK's best and most exciting blogs about food and drink.

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