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Friday, June 30, 2006

How I Got Paid By Writing For Free

A lot of freelance writers complain about writing for free or for peanuts. Most of the time I agree with them. Writing is a skill and freelance writers should earn a fair rate. But there are times when writing for free is useful. Let me give you an example.

Last July, I was helping a friend move house. It made me realize that I knew a lot about moving and sparked a series of articles on moving house. The articles are:

  1. Move-it Yourself: Five Steps to Success
  2. DIY House Moves: Five Ways to Make Sure Your Stuff Stays Intact
  3. Hassle-free House Moves: Five Strategies For Success

I had no particular audience for them, so I submitted them to EzineArticles and GoArticles and forgot about them for a while. To my surprise, those articles have been reprinted on several websites and are among my most popular (non-writing) articles. (They've also been scraped onto several Blogger blogs, but that's another story.) I got two benefits from writing these free articles. The first was almost immediate. Within a few days, I found links to my site on Google and other search engines.

The second was more recent. Last week I got an email from a site which specializes in house moving. They'd seen my articles and wanted me to write something specifically for their site. Of course, they wanted me to write for free as the site gets half a million visitors a month and they would give me a resource box. I held out for some money and I'll get a nominal sum for writing the article. The good news is, that I should be able to use this for further promotion - and as I'm hoping to write an ebook on moving, that can't be bad.

My point is (and I know I'm not the first or only one to say this) that writing for free isn't writing for free if you get something out of it. As a new writer, writing for free can give you clips that are published all over the web. It's a chance to hone your writing skills and build up some expertise. If you have a good selection of clips then you will make a better impression on editors and others who might want you to write for them.

As an established writer, writing for free is a chance to get some exposure and show off your expertise in particular areas. It's also a chance to have some fun writing about subjects that are not part of your core area. Whichever category you fit into, it's about promoting yourself as a writer. Do enough promotion, and that can lead to writing jobs that you WILL get paid for.

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