Every time we talk about writing for free, there’s outrage. Writers from all over the web chime in to discuss whether or not one should pay dues by writing for free and most agree that unless it’s for a meganame magazine or charity, the other party is taking advantage by trading content for exposure.
After blogging took off, many bloggers – me included – began guest blogging for the bigger name probloggers. I also put out calls for guest bloggers here. I had a contest called FWJ Idol where each week bloggers competed for a job here at FWJ. I chose the FWJ Idol route so the members of this community could choose the next blogger. I also had a guest blogger month to celebrate our 3rd anniversary. Well known and not so well known bloggers contributed writing for this event. My goal for this was to give lesser known members of the community a chance to be heard. Both times I was called out privately and publicly for requesting free content.
I thought about it a lot. It bugged me. I stopped asking for guest blog posts and now everyone who contributes is paid.
If you follow me on Twitter you know I have daily discussions about the people who ask for free content for websites and newspapers. No one is happy about the requests for free work. How dare they ask for free content! How dare they not pay writers! How dare they! This isn’t publicity, this is taking advantage!
So I blogged about it a few days ago: Guest Blog Posts: Free Content or Good P.R. In my post I wondered if guest blogging was the new write for exposure scam. After posting, something interesting happened; hardly anyone agreed with me. Very few people saw guest blog posts as “free content.”
So now I’m confused.
What makes it OK to work for free in one place, but not another? Why can’t I write for this guy’s popular website for low pay, but I can write for a professional blogger’s popular blog for free? Why is a content mill paying $15 an article – with byline – a bad idea, but a free guest post is golden?