Write for free and you take us all down

There is a catch in your voice when someone asks you what you do and you answer that you’re a writer. And the catch is that everybody thinks they can write. Most can’t but that’s okay, I’ll never score a goal at football or successfully tie my shoelace, I don’t beat myself up about it. I also don’t go selling my services as a shoelace advisor. But enough of the not-we advertise themselves as writers that they damage what we do. And because they cannot, literally cannot, distinguish themselves in any way but price, they go hell for leather in distinguishing themselves on price. You want a 5,000 word article for 20 cents? I’ll do you 10,000 for free.

You will never find a shortage of people foolish enough to hire people for free – it’s a core tenet of how the UK government believes everyone but themselves should be volunteers – but you could ignore that. It’s harder to ignore the line you get that writing for free will be great exposure.

The Freelancer by Contently argues this week that this could be true. The full piece is centred on Lisa Earle McLeod who writes for Huffington Post for free and says that her articles there are responsible for “nearly every major sale” her company has made. But:

McLeod recognized lawyers and physicians don’t give their work away for free. But she said her business model isn’t based on writing. Writing is a means to an end, a strategy for generating more work in other areas.

“My business model is speaking and consulting. Why wouldn’t I write for free?” she said. “Now when people call me, I don’t have to establish credibility.”

Writing for Free Can Pay Off. But Only for a Select Few – Gary M Stern, Contently.net (27 August 2014)

Let’s see her speak and consult for free, then.