sometimes it pays to put yourself out there for free, at least just in the beginning when you are trying to find out what you enjoy writing about and how you want to go about it.
How to become a writer and get paid for it.
Rebecca Ellen Bingham

My suggestion based on my own experience: NEVER negotiate a project whereby you give your work away for free. Rather take, without negotiation, a project FOR a client and announce you are doing this for free to learn for that industry. Don’t give the client the idea they have free reign to tell you the details, but hold control to say what you will offer and make no exception. If the client insists on exception — THIS is the time you initiate negotiation for a paid project.

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