Would You Work for Free?

There's a huge discussion over on LinkedIn about writing for free. "Would you blog for free?" launched the discussion and the general consensus is: not gonna happen. In fact, my favorite response was from Terri:

I will not write for free. Period.

Some comments discussed that writers are the only profession asked to work for nothing, but I beg to differ. It happens a lot, especially in education. And not just the teachers. Support staff, "educational assistants" are expected to work earlier, stay later, cover classrooms, and babysit forgotten kids who sit forlornly on the couch because Mom's late or Dad forgot or day care wasn't informed of early dismissal.

While these public servants often work for less than we pay babysitters (except with taxes and dues deducted), they are often asked to "help out" in times of need. And they do. Dumb, dumb, dumb.

You're a professional. Whether your bagging groceries, engineering an oil rig not to explode, babysitting, writing screenplays, conducting brain surgery or monitoring recess, all honorable work deserves honorable pay. Get it. And don't work for free.

But the web creates all kind of iffy situations. I was linked to YouTube to hear Harlan Ellison rant about the disservice of working for free, and loved it, loved him. But I didn't pay a cent to hear it; not to him, YouTube or the LinkedIn referral (thank you Terri). I absolutely agree we should be paid to work, but I got all that for free. And you're getting all this for free. Get it? It's a brave new marketing world out there on the web, and we're all giving it away for free.


  1. I send many hours writing, blogging, posting, researching, reviewing my website, twitting, FB, and on and on.. The Great part is we (my Wife and I)are doing it from home when we want,how we want and hoping that people visit us and buy something from our website. Beats corporate life, commuting, and watching TV. LinkedIn Group Memember.

  2. Hi Dave -
    You're spot on. I'm reading this book, Trust Agents, and it's all about giving it (ideas, thoughts, product, marketing) away for free. Sharing, putting it "out there." The ROI is not applicable in this web market -- it's a different beast. Still profitable, but measured in reputation, trust, and, eventually, $. Perhaps finally our time has come!

  3. Nope, I wouldn't work for nothing, I sit at home, watch tv, go to the pub, take the dog out, blog, do the barbecues all for nothing. I'd be much happier to get paid for everything. Should have been a lawyer.