Like many authors and bloggers, I started writing simply for fun and started a Medium account to publish some of my work. Initially, I was set on publishing once every two weeks, and my blog featured various articles on linguistics, language, and culture. I would get a few hits but would often only share my writing with friends and family. I have always loved reading fellow Medium articles and have taken lots of advice from Medium offers. To date, I have my work published in some Linguistic magazine, and I recently published my first book with Penguin Random House. One piece of advice that I see constantly on Medium and that I disagree with is that you should never write for free.
While scrolling through Instagram, Youtube, or even Medium, you often see articles with the title: “how to make $10,000 per article” or “know your worth and never write for free”. These catchy headlines often encourage you to click and read the article and learn some valuable lessons to learn. Although it is important to note that there are various paths and experiences, and just because someone is making money on their writing doesn’t mean that your will. While making money off of one article is wonderful, often writing for free will allow you to improve as a writer and build a path for future writing success. While it is always important to know your worth as an author, it is also important to work on your writing abilities. Here is what you can learn from accepting the free writing job. It is important to note that I am not someone that solely lives off of my writing.
1. Gain Experience Working with Editors
When I was first asked to write an article in my local paper after receiving a community award, I was really excited. The idea of getting paid did not cross my mind as getting my writing physically published was a lifetime goal for me. I was asked to write a 500-word article on leadership. Previously, I had always self-published my work and had never worked with an editor. Since I only understood the world of self-publishing, I had to learn to work with an editor and accept their corrections. While I may not have agreed with all the edits made, I did learn how to better structure my writing by making my points more clear and expanding on certain thoughts.
While I was not paid for this writing opportunity, I gained insight and constructive critique of my writing style. It was the first time my work was featured in a community publication, which was also the first time that people outside of my close circle who knew that I was interested in writing. This lead to further opportunities to write and edit for other people.
2. Learn to Let Go of Your Work
Freelance writing comes with a lot of ups and downs, as often publications don’t pay for your writing unless the publication approves of it. This can lead to ups and downs as some times you are making money and other times you are left submitting pitches that never get a response back. While it is disheartening working hard and submitting pitches, you learn to let go of your work. There was a period where I was submitting 5 semi-interesting articles to various publications and I never heard a response back. Initially, this was extremely frustrating, as I was working for free! Although taking a step back allowed me to realize the importance of working on quality articles rather than publishing a large quantity.
This experience allowed me to learn to let go of my articles or pitches which genuinely were not good. By going through this experience, I learned to focus on spending time on working on thoughtful pieces. Through this process, I noticed that these thoughtful pieces were the ones that ended up succeeding.
3. Find Out What You Struggle With
While receiving many rejections, I started asking for feedback. Most of my feedback included “your topic isn’t relevant for right now” and “your topic needs to go more in-depth”. While accepting feedback is challenging, I have learned that it made me a better writer. I applied the feedback and resubmitted articles. Some of them got accepted, and most important I built up the courage to have conversations with editors and curators as to why or why not they liked or disliked my articles. This allowed me to get published in one of my favorite linguistics magazine, and taught me to not take critique personally. I was able to build up my writing stamina and become a better writer.
4. Build Your Author’s Resumé
While pitching to Penguin Random House, they asked for an author’s resume outlining all of my writing experience. Most of my previous writing experience was free writing opportunities — whether that be publishing on my personal Medium blog, or writing some articles for some blogs. These free opportunities allowed me to demonstrate my writing experiences and show my writing credibility. While the free experiences didn’t pay at the moment, they provided me with a better opportunity; to market my abilities, even though they weren’t paid.
Writing can be very personal. Although taking the chance to share your writing is a wonderful opportunity — even if you don’t get paid for it. Submitting your articles allows you to gain valuable experience with editors, refine your work, build writing stamina, and let go of mediocre ideas. Through writing opportunities, you build your network, your writing abilities as well as your author’s resume. These experiences make you more credible and allow you to pave your path as a more qualified author.