Today’s topic is a controversial one. In fact, the title alone made me think twice before I finally published it.
By now we all know the reasons why you shouldn’t write for free. They are quite obvious, so I won’t go into detail here. However, have you ever considered writing for free even as an experienced freelancer?
It turns out there are several [subjective and opinionated] reasons why I personally believe this is occasionally worth your time.
Break into a New Niche
A few years ago I became interested in writing short entertainment news, but whenever I spotted a paying opportunity, they usually required relevant writing samples. Sadly, I only had generic content that was not at all related to journalism.
One website ended up accepting me based on my irrelevant samples, but the previous two I had applied for quickly denied me. If I could do it all over again, I would have probably contributed several free pieces to some clients as a means of growing that specific area of my portfolio.
Sure, I could have also simply written some samples on my own blog, but this wouldn’t show off my ability to connect and work with others.
Bottom line: This subjective approach largely depends on the niche and the publication you are trying to apply for. Sometimes you’ll easily tap into a new market. Other times you might have to consider this option.
Build Powerful Relationships
This is where guest blogging comes in, but many authors don’t explore this opportunity to its full potential. When a contributor submits a free article on someone else’s blog, he typically has three things in mind: Exposure, traffic, and leads.
How about the opportunity to bond with someone really big in the niche?
Most authors enjoy jumping from one blog to another in an effort to get a backlink from a wide range of authoritative websites. There’s nothing wrong with this, necessarily, but publishing one-off articles and quickly moving on isn’t doing you any favors.
In my opinion, writers should write for free if it means forming a long-lasting connection with one powerful individual as opposed to seeing their name on dozens of decent-at-best blogs.
Contribute to Charitable Organizations
We are all for the money and wish to continue getting paid to write, don’t get me wrong. Sometimes, however, you have to focus on something you are deeply and profoundly passionate about.
For example: A charity organization that helps animals find a new home may be in need of an article. If you’re a big animal lover with the time and the means to contribute, wouldn’t you love to provide your expertise and help out?
To Get a Point Across
Similarly to the above, sometimes you may want to be heard but you simply lack the audience. How would you reach people’s ears about the subject you are so passionate about?
Writing the topic on your own blog likely means having to grow it first, and the same goes for your social media channels. In this case, it is probably wise to consider a popular venue where you can express your thoughts and opinions freely. Maybe, just maybe, this would allow you to sleep better knowing that your compensation came in the form of reaching thousands of people.
Finally, writers should write for free if they can reuse their work in exchange for name/brand awareness. You are, after all, writing just one article and spreading it all over the web. Just make sure these blogs are actually worth the effort.
Not every blog accepts previously-published content, but a careful Google search will help you find such places without a doubt.
Do you believe writers should write for free under certain conditions? Do you contribute to any given website at no charge? What are your personal reasons for doing so?