Barrett Manor

Julie Barrett is a freelance writer and photographer based in Plano, TX.

Why I Can't Work For Free

Fresh (almost) daily from Julie Barrett

The short version: I have bills to pay, too. 

Check out this longer explanation called "Why Professional Photographers Cannot Work For Free." I didn't write this, but it is so full of win that I had to link to it. Here's a point that will resonate with every creative:
Pleas of “We Have No Money” Are Often Difficult to Fathom
Oh, yes. A while back I was contacted by a magazine that wanted to use one of my pictures. Surely I'd do it for the exposure, right? Well, I looked into the magazine and discovered that it was one of those publications that relies heavily on ad revenue. The PDF I saw had close to 50% of the content taken up by ads. "We are unable to pay" doesn't wash in this case.

The text below this point talks about how everyone seems to get paid on a project except the photographers. I've got news for you: it happens to writers as well. They'll pay their web hosting, they'll pay their printing, they'll pay the guy who brings coffee to the office. Hell, they'll pay the office staff. But if they source anything from the outside they plead poverty.

The corollary to this is the old "I'll gladly pay you Tuesday" scenario. Surely I can work for free - just until the money starts to roll in. Uh, no. I did that once when I was young and naive and got burned - badly. There are always more important things to buy or people to pay than the lowly freelancer. I realize times are tough, but if you can't - or won't - pay for your content, perhaps you shouldn't be in business.

The nature of this business means that if we're not doing stuff on spec we're spending a lot of time putting together proposals, doing research, and keeping our skills up-to-date. Hourly or piece rates reflect that. And yet, there's always someone willing to undercut. Just remember, you get what you pay for. 

And Yog's Law still works.

Tags: Writing 

Filed under: Writing   Photography   Business      
10/12/2011 10:34:03 AM
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