In this continuation of my previous post on writing for free, I’m going to look at one more instance when it’s time to say no to not getting paid for your work.
In Part 1 of this post, I mentioned two situations where you should move on from writing for free to getting paid:
1) When you’ve already done free work for a “customer” and they want you to continue working for free
2) When you already have several writing credits to your name
Please refer back to Part 1 for the details on these two scenarios.
A third and final instance I want to mention is…
When you’ve already built a platform or created a brand for yourself. Now, you’re probably thinking, How can I create a platform or brand if I don’t have much writing experience yet? But the truth is, branding has become so important for a writer, that many are doing this first before they ever begin to start trying to get published.
I have heard of many writers who did not start out as writers, but rather as experts in their field. So, they built up a blog or a website, many even held workshops on their topic, and did all they could to become the “go-to” person for their area of expertise. Then, once people knew who they were, they started writing for magazines and then eventually books.
Depending on your subject area, this is a very feasible way to go, especially in today’s viral market. And, once you have established yourself to the point where you do have some name recognition and have begun to build a decent platform of exposure (through speaking engagements and so forth), you will have some leverage when approaching publishers.
You may not have writing credits to your name, but you can approach a publisher by letting them know how many followers you have on your various social media avenues, plus how many speaking engagements you do every month or year. In essence, you’re telling that publisher, “People know my name, and if they are interested in the subject I will be writing about for your magazine, they will come to you to read it.” Having a built-in following before you ever approach a publisher gives you a good case for getting paid for your work.
A great example of this is a now-author I know who began experimenting with a food fast. She wanted to clean up her body and kick-off a major lifestyle change. She had tried many different kinds of fasts, but chose one referred to as the Daniel Fast, after the story of Daniel in the Bible, who basically only ate fruits and veggies and nuts and seeds, despite the king’s offer of giving Daniel the best meats and “delicacies” he had available.
She recorded every single thing she ate as well as how she was doing psychologically and physically during this fast. She blogged about it, tweeted about it, even set up a website for recipes. After a period of time (a few months, I believe), she had so many people following her blog, asking her about her recipes, and trying the fast for themselves, she decided to turn her experience into a book.
She got picked up by a publisher because they could see how much interest there was in her subject, and since she had been though it herself, she was an expert so to speak, in this type of fast. She was not a writer before this experiment, but she is now. We are seeing this more and more in the publishing world.
The point of all of this is to say, don’t think you have to continue to write for free. If you have the credentials, and you have the experience, and people want to hear what you have to say, you should get paid for saying it!