I Don’t Write for Exposure

Or, why you should get paid to write

A Freelance Writer

In my efforts to become a freelance writer, I have pitched a few publications in the past couple of months. Some of them have really strict admission guidelines. One, no joke, requires writers to have a PhD to submit. I skipped that one.

I submitted pitches or spec pieces to several normal-level-of-education places, and for a few, got a no-response rejection. That’s normal.

I received a few acceptances. One, I was really looking forward to, because they were right up my alley. They liked the pitch, but there was a slight problem: I had mentioned something about payment. If I agreed to let them publish my work for free, they’d take it.


Would you say that in any other profession?

Imagine going into a restaurant and saying to your server, “This food looks good, but I won’t order anything unless it’s free.”

Or getting your car fixed and saying to the mechanic, “Instead of paying you, what if I just tell people how great you are?”

Writing takes time. Time to research, draft, and edit. Articles don’t exactly fall from the sky, you know? I can just put them up on my personal blog if I want them to be free.

But you know what the excuse always is? “We’ll give you exposure.”

The idea behind exposure is, “We won’t pay you for it, but someone else might see it and maybe they’ll pay you in the future.”

When I think of “exposure,” I think about people lost in the woods, cold and alone. “If they hadn’t been found right away,” news reports say, “they’d have died of exposure!”