After Writing for Free, Nobody Wants to Pay Me! Am I Blacklisted?!

After Writing for Free, Nobody Wants to Pay Me! Am I Blacklisted?!

I really like your new format!  Thank you!!!!!  I am a contributing editor for a small Catholic newspaper but it’s an unpaid position.  I am hoping that one day to be paid for my writing.  It’s like I’m black-listed or something, know what I mean?  I have tried women’s magazines, religious magazines, etc., but no luck.  Do you have any tips?  

Again, thank you.

– L.

Unfortunately, if an editor knows you’re working for free elsewhere, they’re going to be greedy, and expect the same benefits. Imagine a yard mowing service coming to your door, offering their services, and saying, “I’ve been giving away my services elsewhere but I’m expecting you to pay me.”

Not very professional and, to be honest, you’d have to wonder about the quality of their service. Even if you’re an excellent writer, if you’re giving away your work for free, it makes people think you don’t have a very high opinion of our own work. If somebody else is making money from your writing, but you’re not, you’re getting a very raw deal and your continued acceptance of such treatment is, forgive my frankness, the sign of an amateur.

I would omit any “free” jobs you’ve worked from your resume, and only mention gigs where you got paid. In my opinion, you should also NEVER offer to write for free again. Writing for free not only degrades your value, but it also degrades the value of our entire industry. The more writers work for free, the less the industry is willing to pay for quality writing work.

Please also take a look at our bestselling book of all time, QUERY LETTERS THAT WORKED! Real Queries That Landed $2K+ Writing Assignments. You’ll find copies of real query letters that never mention writing for free. Instead, they landed assignments worth $2,000, and more each!

– Angela

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QUERY LETTERS THAT WORKED! Real Queries That Landed $2K+ Writing Assignments

Peek over the shoulders of highly successful freelance writers to see how they earn thousands per article! The query letter is the key!
In these pages, you'll find real query letters that landed real assignments for national magazines, websites, and corporations.

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  • Abbi Perrets' form letter that brings in $30,000-$45,000 annually
  • Sample phone query from Christine Greeley
  • The Six Golden Rules of Queries and Submissions...and How I Broke Them! by Bob Freiday
  • Your Rights As a "Freelancer"
  • and ANGELA HOY'S SECRET for finding ongoing freelance work from companies that have a stable of freelancers, yet never run ads for them!

3 Responses to "After Writing for Free, Nobody Wants to Pay Me! Am I Blacklisted?!"

  1. Roy Stevenson  December 13, 2015 at 1:58 pm

    Great advice, Angela. I would just add that we travel writers often don’t get paid for our articles, or are paid a token fee, but we use them as collateral to get press trips to exotic destinations that would have cost us thousands of dollars. So, at least if you’re going to write articles for free, try to land some perks.

  2. Sherry Hanson  December 10, 2015 at 4:05 pm

    I agree that we writers should not write for free, but if we make an exception (in my case it was for Habitat for humanity), I don’t say I did it for free. I have been a freelancer for over 30 years. It is getting harder to make any money, but other than the above instance (volunteer work) I will NOT write for free; it would degrade my reputation and also it is a bottom line decision.

  3. Lorelei Nettles  December 10, 2015 at 12:59 pm

    I also write for a religious site for free, but I list it as volunteer work. This separates it from my list of jobs and I haven’t found it an issue.