Price You Pay

Working for free is never a good thing. Period.


This article was originally published at I am J. Dakar.

When Fresh sent out a tweet instructing her followers to share and favorite the video below, I knew it was something worth checking out.

Writer Harlan Ellison from his documentary Dreams with Sharp Teeth

Writer Harlan Ellison went in, didn’t he?!

“They always want the writer to work for nothing.”

In an article for The Nation, Julia Wong laments capitalism’s role in journalism and what it means for writers.

“Fifteen dollars per hour has become a rallying cry for service workers, but what is a fair standard for writers?” she asks.

Entertainment Weekly has joined the fray of media brands like Forbes, The Huffington Post, and People that have created “contributor networks.” These networks allow anyone to write for the publications in exchange for “prestige” instead of a paycheck. As a result, publications such as these question writers’ value.

“Prestige, of course, is worth even less than dogecoin when it comes to paying rent,” Wong writes.

“The only value for me is if you put money in my hand.”

Prestige will not pay your bills. That’s why media outlets should compensate writers for their work.

For someone starting their career, an internship can be a valuable opportunity. Internships at for-profit enterprises must compensate interns under the Fair Labor Standards Act. Exceptions are possible if the conditions in this fact sheet exist.

It’s an amazing thing to see potential in someone and take them under your wing to show them the ropes. Don’t use an opportunity to reap the advantage of someone’s work without compensating them (in some way) for such. Working for free is never a good thing. Period.

If they’re making money from your work, why aren’t you?

“The problem is there are so many writers who have no idea that they’re supposed to be paid every time they do something; they do it for nothing.”

Publicity is not payment.

Doing this hurts writers who depend on selling their words to make a living. Besides, it could lead to others expecting you to continue working for free.

How will you ever make money from your work if you’re willing to work for free?