I was contacted recently by a website looking for someone to write three, 500 word articles a week, for $20 an article.
I considered it. Sixty dollars a week – or $240 a month – would be helpful right now, especially since after taking a long creative break my monthly writing income is smaller than the weekly allowance for most American teenagers.
In the end, I decided that it wasn’t enough money to justify the time I would need to spend writing the articles. And while I would retain the copyrights and could resell the articles, I’m not writing in that genre any more so I wouldn’t have a ready market for reprints.
Too much work, not enough money.
This was on my mind this morning when I read this great piece by Revolva and her offer from the Oprah Winfrey folks to perform at Oprah’s “The Life You Want” tour – for free. (Really, Oprah?)
Back when I was covering entertainment for Christian and community publications, my writing income ran the gamut from several hundred dollars an article to next to nothing. And sometimes nothing.
I hear a lot from people who criticize writers who write for free. It devalues your talents, they tell me, and they’re right. But every once in a while, I’d have a legitimate reason to give away a reprint or pen a new piece for no financial compensation. I considered it a sort of tithe, a sacrificing of my gifts for the benefit of someone else.
The key was that I made the decision to offer my services – often to a local band that needed a press kit bio, and always when it was someone I respected, believed in and wanted to see achieve their goals.
When it came to publications? Almost never. I wrote for cheap – and I mean super cheap – for publications that had almost no budget. And I wrote for lovely compensation from publications that had the budget to pay and me happily did so. But when it came to publications with lots of money who offered me nothing? No way. Continue reading