Authors & Speakers Network Blog with Larry James

Monday, January 27, 2014

Writing for Free! Should you?

Filed under: Author Tips — Larry James @ 7:30 am

I do. I occasionally write for free. I’ve been a blogger (four blogs) for many years now and usually these articles are written for free. It’s okay to write for free if nobody is paying you yet. It’s especially nice when someone admires your work enough to offer to pay you. Young writers have to demonstrate to people what you can do before anyone’s going to offer you money.

A blank green horizontal chalkboard with chalk and eraser. 14MP camera.How can you justify writing for free? If you are a beginner and need to boast you morale, do it. It’s one way to gain experience and show people what you are capable of. Look for places with a large audience to get the maximum coverage. You have to judge for yourself whether or not the people has the type of reach and audience to justify giving them something free of charge. If the people you’re writing it for practically guarantees you an audience, do it.

“Every writer should start with the assumption that their work has value and they deserve to be paid for it. But it’s short-sighted not to allow for exceptions, and those exceptions will change over time.” ~ Jason Fry

If you feel you work may be important to boost a cause, do it. Check out the groups that are worthy and submit away. Careful not to allow groups to take advantage of your willingness to support their cause. You cannot write for free perpetually. When groups continue to ask for more and more… perhaps it time to pull back and quote your fee.

Appearing in highly respected publications can often lead to discovery by agents or publishers. Cosmopolitan once printed a quote from one of my books which led to more quotes and excerpts for no fee. I was excited because saying your work has appeared in Cosmopolitan, Redbook and others looks great on your resume. I eventually received payment for several articles as well as recognition. Every new writer starts off in the same Catch-22: You need experience to get gigs, but the only way to get experience is through gigs.

The Hilton Hotel Corporation saw something that I wrote online for free and hired me as their National Spokeperson in 2002. As a result, I appeared on 14 radio talk shows to relay their talking points and almost always had time to mention my books and website. The talk shows were all syndicated and that put me on the radio in about 157 major cities in the U.S. From that… I was contacted by the producer of ABC TV’s “The View” and about 5 months later Barbara Walters interviewed my on “The View.” Writing for exposure, when done right, doesn’t yield an overnight success, however, it may be your road to writing success.

Freebies are okay and they are a terrific way to hone your writing skills. Take your time. Check for typos. Edit your work. Test your articles with other writer friends. Your close family friends will almost always tell you your article is great. While that’s nice to hear… professional writers will tell you the truth and offer suggestions to make it better.

Blogging should be one of your priorities. If you are blogging about the same subject all the time, eventually you may want to put thhe articles all together and call it a book. I often use freebie excerpts of articles to promote the sale of by books.

“There’s a thin line between being tenacious and being taken advantage of,” said Katie J.M. Baker, a staff writer for Newsweek. Exposure and experience can be valuable but never allow yourself to be taken advantage of. Some writers like to write, and don’t need the money.

Bet you didn’t know that E.L. James’ “Fifty Shade of Grey” was available for FREE online long before it became the blockbuster it is today. Point made!

Writing is a profession and your work eventually deserves compensation. I believe that “good” writers should be paid. I started my writing career by writing for the Owingsville High School paper in high school. Now I have five published books and over 2,500 articles, not all published, but I will never quit. I also believe that if you are serious about writing as a career, you must write something everyday. That was good advice from my original mentor, Peggy Fielding from Tulsa. Now I write something everyday.

Young writers would be wise to know that they should learn as much as they can about promoting your work. Be prepared to write and promote! Study other writers. Mimic them. Find someone who is doing well and adapt what they are doing to your own personality. Great promoters eventually get paid for their work.

Larry’s NOTE: This article was inspired by Martha Orr Conn who wrote an article I read many years ago.


Authors & Speakers Network Blog

Copyright © 2014 – Larry James. Larry James is a professional speaker and the author of three relationship books, “How to Really Love the One You’re With: Affirmative Guidelines for a Healthy Love Relationship,” “LoveNotes for Lovers: Words That Make Music for Two Hearts Dancing” and “Red Hot LoveNotes for Lovers.” His newest book is “Ten Commitments of Networking.” Larry James also offers “Author & Speaker” coaching. Contact:, P.O. Box 12695, Scottsdale, AZ 85267-2695. – More than 110 articles especially for Authors & Speakers at:

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