Don’t Write for Free!

by Barbara Mende
Before I joined the NWU, I wrote a humorous book about job-hunting – well, as humorous as a book on that subject can be.
I contacted news outlets to publicize the book, and as the word got around I was approached by several entities: job clubs and unemployment offices that wanted me to speak, newspapers that wanted me to write articles and columns, even bookstores that wanted me to give talks.
When I asked what they’d pay me, they all said – as if with one voice – “We don’t pay, but it’ll be great exposure for your book.”
And I did all these things, including two years’ worth of weekly columns, before I went to my first union meeting. People at the meeting asked what kind of writing I’d been doing and I told them I’d been trying to get exposure for my book. Then someone said, “People DIE of exposure!”
After that, I knew where to look for opportunities. I wrote articles and columns for a national online newspaper that paid me very well and a local paper that paid me moderately, but let me recycle the free articles from the past. Now I had clips to show to other outlets and get more paid work.
Those people who want to give you exposure are still around. Please try to avoid them. You know what can happen.