How Can I Attract Contributors?

Hi Angela.

I’ve been subscribing for a while, and now I am on the flip side of the job market. I am hoping to start a newsletter and wondering how to attract contributors. It is to be a “sharing” newsletter, so the writers need not be professional. I’ll be the editor, and at least at first, the writers will not be paid. Do you have a place on your site where I can spread the word? If not, do you know where I can?

I think it’s extremely unfortunate that you’re planning to ask fellow writers to write for free. As you know, new publications don’t offer any significant exposure. I’m sure your ISP isn’t working for free, nor your electric company, or any other service you’re using to create and promote your new publication.Why, then, should writers be asked to donate their time? Writing for you won’t pay their bills or feed their children. It will only benefit you and, if they’re new writers, provide them with false hope of exposure.

And, if you ask writers to write for free, veteran writers will flame you to kingdom-come and your reputation in the industry will be destroyed.

If you can’t pay writers, perhaps you should find another line of business? It never ceases to amaze me how many people start these little newsletters and websites with no money to pay their initial bills. You can’t start a business without money and expect it to survive, nor expect to offer a high-quality publication. It’s like asking people to support your pipe-dream, which is incredibly selfish and unfair to new writers who don’t know any better.

We never, ever promote pubs that don’t pay writers. Even when I started and had zero income from it, I spent my own personal money to pay writers, and money was tight back then! It’s never fair to ask someone to work for you for free, especially when those people desperately need to be paid for their work.

You should reconsider and offer payment, even if it’s a small amount. Doing so will not only keep your reputation intact, but it will also bring in a much higher caliber of manuscripts. If you can’t pay writers, save yourself a lot of time and frustration (and save your reputation at the same time) and don’t launch a new business until you can afford to pay the people that will ultimately help you succeed.

Angela Hoy