“I don’t take a piss for free.”
Most journalists at some point will be asked to work for free, especially young journalists starting out. They’ll tell you its for publicity. That it’ll help you get work in the future. But what exactly does that mean?
I’ll get publicity for not getting paid so that some company in the future will ask me to work for money? If they act the same way, this publicity will lead to me being asked to write more pieces for publicity. Working for free only leads to more working for free.
I’m not saying that there are never any reasons to do something for free, but publicity is a specious reason, particularly for a company that has money and will make money off of your free labor. I do speak at and host panels at conferences for free, but I value the experience of being at and participating in conferences.
I have written guest posts for friends, and I will continue to collaborate with friends on the Web in the future. But when I write a piece that has value for a company that makes money, I expect to be paid.
My rule is this: If you’re going to work for free, you might as well do it for yourself, on your own terms. Start a blog and do the same exact thing there, exactly as you want to do it.