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I’m British, and I was brought up to belive that it’s not polite to talk about money. But I will make this quick point, in response to a company that popped up this morning on my Twitter feed.

The company is called Freesist. I’m not linking, you can Google. It’s a company that, as far as I can gather, helps people find freelance writers who will work for free.

(I’m hoping it will turn out to be a parody account. Even if it does, the following still stands.)

If you are a freelance writer, unless you are very fortunate, what you will mostly get paid is shit-all. Anyone thinking that freelance writers, or writers in general, make squillions is kidding themselves. But writing is work (I know sometimes it doesn’t LOOK like work, when we’re staring out of the window sucking our biros) and work deserves to be paid. You wouldn’t work in Tescos for nothing, unless you were on some barbaric government WorkFare scheme. You certainly wouldn’t CHOOSE to work in Tescos for nothing. So why should you give your work away for free?

I’m not talking here about barter. Barter is fine. Barter is “I’ll grammar-check your essay, you fix the coding on my website”. I’m talking about “Will you write this for me for nothing in return? It’ll give you good exposure!”

No it won’t. Exposure is a mugs game. If you tell someone you’ll willing to work for “exposure” you’re a mug. Exposure won’t pay your rent. When you pop into Tesco try paying at the check-out with a bundle of exposure and see where that gets you.

Exposure kills.

If you choose to work for exposure, not only are you devaluing your own work, you’re devaluing the work of other freelancers. You’re sending out the message that writing is not worth paying for.

Your work is not worthless. MY work is not worthless. Don’t send out the message that it is. You deserve to be paid.