Should freelance writers write for free?

I’m a writer with one foot firmly in the roots of my own history, and that of the wider world – HOW many stories do even our own histories yield? Like many of us, I can form an argument for both sides, considering the decision from the fence with my salted caramel latte.

So, we’ll assume that people write for free because they have a need to say something, whether in a paper diary or on an online platform. People also write for free to share a love of something, perhaps reviewing music (which I love doing for Lyric Magazine,) or a book they’ve read (which I’ll do on Amazon and Goodreads if Iove an author’s work) or a Netflix series they’ve binge-watched (maybe on social media).

Writing for free is also a great way to raise your profile and build your writing portfolio, which every online writer knows. There are many sites who will happily take your words from you in whichever capacity you would like to share.

Writing for free is not without its problems.

The more writers offer their work for free, the more closures I see of print magazines, which I’ve been a fan of since pocket-money days in the 80s; my name is Emma and I’m a 40-something with a magazine subscription problem. I don’t read newspapers beyond headlines, or perhaps a Ryan Reynolds moment, and the in-print world definitely has a presence online. I do remember being shocked a few years ago when I discovered the local newspaper from a town I once lived in now only produces one or two copies a week. Some newsprint should be sacred. But rising costs and online accessibility mean I still don’t buy our current local newspaper. I’m more likely to head to Twitter for my news feed than a newspaper.

The Huffington Post arrived in 2005 which shook up the news world, offering content in a news format across the world. But it didn’t pay all of the writers, instead offering up exposure and a chance to build your writing profile. In the last couple of years there are increasing opportunities to be paid as a writer for the Huffington Post. Quality writing will always attract a fee, and there is more online competition; writers can self-publish opinion pieces on open platforms, such as Medium, and receive payment according to how many readers appreciate their articles. Obama writes on medium as well as lesser-known writers.

How do you decide what fee to charge as a writer?

Research into freelance writing payments will leave you exhausted, if not curled up in a rocking chair reconsidering your dream career. Ideally you work out what you need financially to survive on, against how long it takes you to research, write, edit and polish your writing, and find a willing person to invoice. And assume you’ll be paid within 30 days of your writing.

Thankfully, information, advice and support are readily available from both the National Union of Journalists (NUJ) and Writers and Artists, both UK-based.

Perhaps the writing you offer has a marketing background, either as a copywriter, or a content creator; the Chartered Institute of Marketing (CIM) could be the place you turn to for information and advice…maybe even your next job?

The vocabulary is rich and varied for my chosen career. Am I a freelance writer, self-published, an indie author, a copywriter, a blogger, a ghostwriter, or a content creator? At various points in the month I will be all of these, and some will overlap. I write articles for large and small companies, I create (gorgeous) Canva posts and Facebook Ads for crafters, I write and edit romance novels as ebooks and paperbacks. I write non-fiction ebooks for business owners. All of these strands generate income. The blogging, well, this is just a distraction from the first draft of my next novel.

I’m off now for a caramel latte and to appreciate some writing.

Happy writing.


2 thoughts on “Should freelance writers write for free?

    1. Hi Lewis, thanks for your comment. It depends on what interests you write about where you will market your articles. If you write down the keywords attached to your topics, then search online, you may find some useful markets for your work. The Creative Penn is a great website full of helpful information for writers:


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