My Will Not Work For Free Manifesto

Write for them ... for no compensation.
Write for them … for no compensation.
I openly admit that I’m probably going to come off as sounding like a crazy kook, but how would you feel if someone asked you to work for free?

As a professional content writer/blogger who has a popular following and reputation, I get a fair amount of paid work to do the same for others with money-making business ventures. I’m lucky that I get do to work I enjoy with some pretty fantastic people. I’m happy, they’re happy. At the end of the day, we all go home and live the lives we’re grateful to live and afford. After all, that is the purpose of work, right?

And then I get pitches for “opportunities” all the time, and we all know that “opportunity” means “We want you to work for us for free.”

Normally, I don’t tell people and their business ventures, “Here’s what I think of your opportunity,” when I hit the delete button on my laptop, but this time, I decided to tell a profit-generating website what I think with an email reply. It’s not nice (neither is the expectation that people should work without compensation) or kind, but it’s something that needs to be said.

Here's the "fantastic opportunity" this company is taking advantage of from uncompensated writers.
Here’s the “fantastic opportunity” this company is taking advantage of from uncompensated writers.
Hi Jason,

I’m going to be very blunt with you. When I see pitches like this from commercial websites that offer me “fantastic opportunities”, it means that they’re asking me to provide unique keyword-rich quality content to bolster their SEO and digital footprint for no compensation for my time, talent or online reputation and clout.

And then you expect me to promote my uncompensated work through social media contacts you don’t have to promote your websites? Who is this opportunity for, me or you?

If your car breaks down, would you expect a mechanic to fix it for free because you called him an expert? If you went to a restaurant because you were hungry, would you expect to eat for free because you called the chef who prepared a wonderfully delicious meal an expert? Would you be willing to work for someone for free? I don’t think so.

Since you found and approached me, who is really helping who here? Don’t you think that I should be able to reap some reward from the risk that you and I are taking in this “fantastic opportunity”?

Content writing and management, social media consulting and online marketing is something I do on a professional basis. They’re skills that a lot of people don’t have or don’t have time to do on their own. It’s time I spend that puts a roof over my head, lights on in my house, water running in my faucets, and clothes on my back. Having someone call me an expert and taking time away from my paid work does none of those things. I fail to see where the opportunity is for me and I consider expecting a free ride on my coattails as an insult.


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