I had a writing instructor tell me once to “Never write for free!” Her reasoning made sense. Writers who will work for free lower the chances that freelance writers will get paid well. After all, there’s always someone who will accept a lower fee. If writers don’t stand together to change things, editors and consumers will never value the work we do. Right?
I’ve come to see that such a view is idealistic. It’s all well and good to tell a beginner writer never to work for free, but really, how else is an untried wordsmith going to get any work? Clips are what a writer needs, and I firmly believe that when an editor reviews a writer’s clips, he doesn’t care whether the publication paid or not. He cares about the quality of writing.
So, I write for free (so far, just blogging). And I occasionally edit for free (only FellowScript, which looks great on my resume!). I also do book reviews for a free copy of the book (Booksneeze). Or just because I like the book.
That said, I also write and edit for pay. Slowly, as I get more experience and start to develop a reputation for excellent work, my writing and editing income will go up.
What is your opinion of my instructor’s advice?