During the past several months, I’ve gotten good freelance writing opportunities from two websites. One site pays a decent amount and the other pays quite well. And, the editor of the better paying site has been receptive to many of my suggestions for articles. However, there is one harsh drawback to each of these sites: my articles do not carry my byline.
I like making money for my writing and also want my name to be seen alongside these articles. Thus, I have had an internal debate going on regarding these two sites specifically, and the topic of anonymous writing in general.
Most writers wish to receive credit for their writing – perhaps for their resume, their ego, or just so their articles can be found more easily on the Internet. But, sometimes we get offers to write and we are told up front that we won’t receive a byline, or must assume a pseudonym.
The reasons why a publication might not publish their writers’ names can vary greatly. Some may cover controversial topics that could lead to libel accusations. Others might consider their contributors ghostwriters, and be publishing the same name on articles from a variety of writers.
The website that pays me well for my articles (and I have enjoyed researching and writing them) credits me with a pseudonym because I am not the only author for these monthly articles. It does sting somewhat not to have my own name there for all to see but I still write for the site. The other website gave me a byline for my first article, but subsequent pieces received none.
When writing without a byline, writers need to weigh the pros and cons of payment and opportunity versus our desired recognition and professional credits. I do feel a sense of success from seeing this work published and I am paid well for the work.
If you face this situation, the decision is up to you. I like having opportunities for being published, and for delving into certain subjects in my writing. But, I entered into both these situations knowing I wouldn’t receive bylines.
As an aside, I’ve had several letters to the editor published in a local weekly magazine. These letters have been published with a nickname of my choosing because I often express opinions that have been strongly critiqued. I want my opinions to be aired, but still have an invisibility cloak of sorts.
Name recognition is important in the writing industry. However, you can still be successful as a freelance writer without the byline.
Have you written without a byline? We’d love to read about it in the Comments box below! 🙂
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- Payment vs. Art
Ellen Levitt has been a freelance writer since the late 1980s. She is the author of six books including WALKING MANHATTAN (Wilderness Press) and the trilogy on The Lost Synagogues of New York City (Avotaynu).
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I do about $20-30k part-time writing a year and it’s all work-for-hire with no byline. The work is fairly easy for me and the companies I work with kept coming back to me to do more work so I’ve never once worried about the byline.