This week I was contacted by a third large publication looking for me to provide content for them, for free.
The first one approached me about 6 months ago, I was intrigued and asked as to the remuneration, and was told there was none, but wouldn't I be happy with the exposure.
The second was a couple of months ago, same deal, actually made out that I was being difficult asking about money.
The third was even more shambolic, I was approached by a freelance student journalist on behalf of the publication, and when I wrote to the publication for clarification I was told there was no fee being paid as it was such a short article.
These are large magazines on the shelves of shops, FULL of advertising and I'm sure their staff all receive a wage. So why would I work to provide their content for free?
To get the name of this blog out there in the public eye? (which isn't even my target audience, Jane Soap thinks I'm a nutter and I'd be inviting criticism anyway)
If I am to write a piece I have to:
a) find something or someone to entertain my two children, who I home educate so are with me 24/7
b) find time and space to brainstorm my piece.
c) write, re-read, edit, re-write until I'm happy with it
d) email the publishers back and forth before and after my writing process, sometimes chatting on the phone
e) deal with the aftermath. If it went well, read the comments of appreciation, if it was received badly, handle my emotions about the criticism.
All of that, and I should be happy to do it for free, to maybe get a few more hundred page hits on my blog one day? Which don't equate to any more income for me, seeing as I have not monetised my blog with pay-per-click ads.
It's totally not worth it for me. Is it an Irish thing to expect people to work for free? A female thing? A writer's thing? A stay-at-home-mom blogger thing? Am I supposed to be grateful they asked me in the first place?
Who out there can actually afford to work for free? Would a graphic designer work hours on a logo for a client for no pay? Would a novelist trot out a short story for free? Maybe in exceptional circumstances, for a charity or something, but not as a matter of course. And I wasn't approached by a charity, I'm talking about big companies here with big bucks behind them.
And here I sit with my dirty dishes at the kitchen table, tapping away on the laptop while Spongebob entertains my kids, who have asked me at least 5 times to come and play, and have gone away each time disappointed because "mommy's working". That's my "overheads", guys. That's the price I pay for taking time out of my mommying day to work. My kids miss out. Maybe we miss the sunny morning at the park and stay inside instead because I have a sponsored blog post to finish. Maybe I am cranky and sleep-deprived because I stayed up until 3am editing posts to be published this week. My kids miss out.
So I'm not going to work for free. No thanks, don't even ask.