11 responses to “Writing for free is not a business model”

  1. Paula

    You tell ’em, Michelle!

  2. Michelle Rafter

    Why, thank you!


  3. drew

    Right on! Love the Harlan clip.

    As a writer and publicist, I often donate my services to a local nonprofit literacy organization. I’m happy to occassionally “give it away,’ because I like to support and strengthen my community. But I’m always more than miffed when for-profit clients expect the same.

    And, it’s true — too many writers give it away or cut their fees, which devalues the work of all writers.

    This is such a big, and heated, topic. Thanks for bringing it up.

  4. Michelle Rafter

    I couldn’t agree more. I too am not opposed to working for no charge for charitable causes that I support. In fact, for the years that I wasn’t writing professionally while I raised my kids, I wrote all kinds of things, including auction catalogs, newsletters, etc., for schools and non-profit groups. I was contributing to my community in a way that benefited both of us – it helped me keep my skills up and the organizations got the use of a professional writer. In the end, I started to send an itemized bill to the groups I worked with so they could see how much they would have spent hiring someone, which helped show them how valuable the work was – and I advocate that other writers who work for non-profits do the same.

    Now that I’m writing full time again I still do some work for the non-profits I support but I’ve scaled it back substantially.

    Michelle Rafter

  5. Jennifer Langille

    This post, in addition to the the NYT piece have been an excellent “pep talk.” When you are just starting out it feels like you have to give some away to build a foundation, experience. Like doing an internship, which in my case was “in the field” since I did not set out to be a freelancer and have learned through the “Univ. Of Hard Knocks.”

    Thank you for posting and hope to do right by fellow freelancers and be very mindful of what is “given” away. In addition, more respectful of asking for something for nothing. I think I would rather pay or be paid a dollar on principle than nothing at all.

    Thank you.

  6. If you’re upgrading your writing career, j-school isn’t the answer « WordCount - Freelancing in the Digital Age

    […] a subject you’re interested in and pitch a few blog posts. I don’t ordinarily advocate writing for free, but if you’re just starting out, you’ve gotta prove to somebody you can do the work – […]

  7. Freelance 101: Getting started as an independent writer « WordCount - Freelancing in the Digital Age

    […] Writing for free is not a business model – Giving it away ain’t gonna get you anything but poor. […]

  8. The business case for a writers’ blogathon « WordCount – Freelancing in the Digital Age

    […] spend so much time writing for free, something that I counsel other writers […]

  9. Why writers should blog: it’s not personal, it’s business « WordCount – Freelancing in the Digital Age

    […] spend so much time writing for free, something that I counsel other writers […]

  10. Dear WordCount: What should I charge for writing blog posts? | WordCount

    […] you to write. If they’re that interested in you, you shouldn’t have to write posts on┬áspec. One possibility is to work out a deal so that if you get the gig, they’ll build the fee for […]

  11. Martin

    Nice article M’am, and the Ellison’s rant is fantastic, so, so true!
    Thanks for sharing.