Wednesday, May 03, 2006

To Write For Free--or Not

This article may be published freely so long as the complete author’s bio box is included.

by Linda J. Hutchinson

Word count: 495

Put a bunch of writers in a room, virtual or real, and it won’t be long before at least two heated discussions ensue, typically: traditional publishing vs self-publishing, and whether or not to write for free.

I like to be paid for my work. I imagine that you do, too. There are times, however, when writing for free can have huge paybacks, whether that was the intended purpose or not.

Consider this:

You have a favorite charity. They need a letter written for the annual fundraiser. You volunteer to write it. Even though your name may not go on the bottom of the letter, the committee knows who wrote it and your name will go on their list of volunteers—which does go out to the masses on a regular basis. The committee is usually made up of local business people who may hire you to write copy for their sales campaigns. You’ve just gotten your foot in the door with them. Or, if they can’t hire you, they just might float your name around the lunch table to their friends who can. Or, the charity itself may hire you for upcoming fundraising campaigns.

You are an aspiring writer. You know you could be successful but you have no published clips. You can’t get any published clips because you have none. We’ve all been there. Consider writing an article for one of the many free article mills on the net. The first one I put out there a couple of years ago is still being picked up and re-published! Lately it’s been flying under the CarFax banner. Voila! Your first clip! Here’s a short list to try:

You have a product you’d like to test market. That product could be copywriting, or letters from Santa, or a school play. Target your market with your article and put it out there using the free article services. Track the responses.

Blogging: Either you love to blog, hate to blog, or just don’t get what all the fuss is about, but blogging is here to stay. It is the newest form of free expression and it is everywhere! Corporate America “gets” it and has hired bloggers to push their products.

Those search engine ‘crawlers' and ‘bots’ pick up comments in blogs quickly, so be careful what you say. (Some immodest souls have lost corporate jobs due to their rants in blogs.) And by all means, leave a courteous comment on someone’s blog! With your name and website address, of course.

Writing for your own website can be the most satisfying of all the writing you will do for free. At least it will be for free in the beginning. After you’ve shown what you can do with your website, you can then get paid to write all that copy for someone else’s website!

It’s all called marketing. Unfortunately, sometimes as writers, we must do it for free. Sometimes. Pick your times carefully.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Linda J. Hutchinson is a multi-published freelance writer and photojournalist who lives in TN and OH. Her articles and features have appeared in magazines, trade journals, newspapers, newsletters, on websites and in e-zines. Her first novel is in process.


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