I woke up today to a bunch of chatter on Twitter about how “journalists don’t work for free, so why should bloggers” – as the conversation went on, eventually it distilled down to “people don’t work for free and it’s a massive insult to be asked to do *anything* for free!!”
And that’s where I started to get irked.
Add Insult To Injury
Are you frikking kidding me people? What world do you live in – because it certainly isn’t the same one I am occupying at the moment.
People work for free all the time. That big project you had to stay really late at the office to finish last week..? You worked for free. Those times you dealt with an issue or sent an email or two from home on the weekend…? You worked for free. When you were asked to go above and beyond the call of duty in order to meet a deadline…? You worked for free.
Will Work For….
Now, those are the obvious examples – and I suppose the argument would be “well, you’re already getting paid if you’re working a full time job, so those examples don’t count!”
Ok, I’ll bite. Let’s look at it another way. You’re a blogger and you’re working your tail off trying to build a community and gain visibility for your property. You’ve definitely worked for free, and most likely above and beyond your “real job” working hours and after you’ve put in a 50 hour work week.
Show Me The Money!
That blog is starting to pick up and maybe – just maybe – you are hitting that golden moment where you can start monetizing the darn thing! But really, you’re a bit of an unknown entity – unproven – and a company or brand wants you to work with them a bit on spec to test the waters with you. You are appalled. Incensed. Outright insulted even! And you take to the social airwaves to make your points and vent your frustrations.
You Scratch Mine And I’ll Scratch Yours
My bet is that you won’t be getting too many more offers from too many more brands to partner up. Because unless you’ve been living under a rock these last 10 years or so, you would realize that the economy is in the toilet. Mobile and web have exploded (i.e. there are a bazillion bloggers out there doing the exact same thing you’re doing – and better). And lots and lots of people will happily do writing or PR work on spec in order to prove their talents and increase their name recognition. You scratch my back and I’ll scratch yours. If the almighty dollar is the only thing that strokes your ego and gets you out of bed in the morning, then you are missing out on a whole lot of opportunity.
I write for free all the time – because I understand that it benefits me in myriad ways:
- I’m looking for work and need to be seen
- I want to keep my writing skills sharp
- I want to ‘pay it forward’ and help out people who have helped me in the past
- And I strive every day to grow my own community, make valuable new connections and develop deeper relationships with people
Give To Get
There is no amount of cash money that can deliver the things I mentioned above. I’m obviously not talking about the shysters and snake oil salesmen who want to hire people for $10.00 and hour. And you have to be on your toes and be sure you’re not being taken advantage of. But really? “No one works for free”? If that’s your attitude in this space and you’re actively trying to build a brand for yourself – then I wish you godspeed and good luck. Because you’re gonna need it.
Thoughts? How much free work have you done – if any – to enhance your reputation?