Paid vs Free

Paid vs Free was a topic that came up a few times in the 2012 ProBlogger Event tweet stream. This is my view. I know for a fact it doesn’t suit everyone.


I don’t believe in working in your professional area for free. If you are contributing value to a company (an entity that is by definition geared towards making money) then why are you devaluing yourself by working for free?


When I was 17 I spent some days wandering around London while looking for work. I was canvassing businesses and dropping off my resume to anyone who would take it. I walked into a small media company to give my resume to the receptionist. The receptionist asked if I had any experience specifically in media. I said no, but I outline my relevant work experience in other industries. She told me to volutneer, because no one will get a job in media without having worked in media. I said sure, how do I pay my rent and eat? I politely left the office, without leaving my resume with them.


Guess what, businesses? It costs money to pay rent. It costs money to eat, to have a phone, to get to & from work and use that pesky electricity stuff.


When asked outright how I should pay bills while volunteering, no one has yet had an answer. Perhaps they’re all millionaires and don’t have that issue.


Having said that, I do believe in working in your chosen area as a volunteer – ONLY FOR A CHARITY. A business is there to make money. I really have no desire to help them with that by volunteering. Volunteering can develop skills that are applicable to any industry.


Relating this back to blogging, I think some of the debate comes back to a sense of entitlement – it’s not that bloggers are feeling too entitled by asking for payments, it’s that freelance publishers/brands are feeling entitled that people should work for free.


I do understand that there are many valid reasons for working for free. I know some of my favourite people on twitter do this, and for very good reasons.


Personally though, I think I’ve just been screwed over one too many times in this area as an employee.


What do you think about working for free?

4 Replies to “Paid vs Free”

  1. Hello
    I wrote a little about working for free here:

    I have a full time job and write and speak in the side. Some I’m paid for , others I’m not. Works well for me.

    1. I was actually thinking of your post at the time I wrote that! I honestly think I would have a different opinion if I hadn’t come across the intense pressure to work extensively for free in my day jobs.

      I would love to run my own publishing platform and (to sound like a total hypocrite here) I don’t have the time or energy for another business so I wanted to make it free on all sides – a way for people to get their work out there, but not pay them and not make money on ads/anything else (since in the recent debates the ‘profiting’ off unpaid writers seemed to be the key irritation). I haven’t thought too much about it though -and I keep coming across people who are already doing a great job with similar ideas!

  2. I think you know my thoughts here – yes to not working for free for a business. Yes, to working for free for a charity (and I do believe in giving back). It starts by valuing what you have to offer – and once you do that, other people value you too. I’ve just knocked back a job that came with the fringe benefit of being quite high profile – and there was a fee – but for me it wasn’t enough to warrant the upheaval to my family’s life – and my sanity.

  3. […] Paid vs Free Opinion post on working for free. […]

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