Do you want to be a successful freelance writer? Then you need to be paid well for your work.
I’m a strong advocate of freelance writers earning what they’re worth, but sometimes you should give it away for free.
Why? Because giving it away for free has several potential benefits…
Gets Attention from Potential Clients
An article by you in the right place at the right time — and with the right byline — can gain the attention of decision makers in your target niche.
Gets A Clip for Your Writing Portfolio
If you’re just starting out, you need samples for your freelance writer portfolio. Writing for free can get you that clip and allow you to demonstrate that you have professional skills.
Gets Links to Your Writer Website
The more links you have to your website, the higher you may rise in search rankings — and that can lead to more clients. Some freelance writers choose to do guest posts on other blogs in large part to boost SEO rankings.
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Gets You Subscribers to Your Blog
If you are also a blogger, giving away a free report is a great way to entice people to sign up for your blog updates. For example, I give away an extensive report that many people have found crucial for increasing their productivity and income: “27 Ways to Boost Your Writing Willpower.” (See the box in the right column to subscribe and get your copy, if you haven’t already done so.)
Gets Publicity for Your Work
As some of you know, besides being a long-time freelance writer, I’m also the author of two hiking guidebooks on Northern California. I was recently approached by the editor of a color magazine that’s available in many tourist/visitor locations. The editor found my photo of Black Butte near Mount Shasta and asked if she could use it in the publication gratis. I agreed, with the stipulation that I get a photo credit and a mention of my website.
It was only 10 minutes of my time to send her the high-res photo, and it may easily pay me back in increased book sales and subscribers to my hiking blog.
In a similar vein, I’ve let several publications print individual hike descriptions from my books, always, of course, with attribution that includes my website and mention of my books.
Gets Good Karma
You can use your writing skills to help out a nonprofit or a friend in need. Sure, you don’t get paid, but you’re helping others, and that’s an important part of being a good person. Remember, people have helped you in the past, and they will also help you in the future.
An Important Caveat
Be careful about giving it away for free. Do it wisely and sparingly. I see too many beginning freelance writers who spend way to much time and energy writing for zero compensation. Your main goal is to make money — lots of it.
What are your rules about giving it away for free? Tell us in the comments below.