Q: Are there ever any instances where you think writing for free is OK?
A: Yes. Here are a few examples:
- Writing for a charity or organization you support, such as your church newsletter, college newspaper, alumni newsletter, or your child’s school’s Web site.
- Writing to get free publicity for your products or services, such as a book, CD, e-book or even to drive readers to your blog or Web site, where you DO have products for sale.
- Writing to get a client publicity. Technically, you’re probably not writing for free. You’re getting paid by the client to do publicity, but the magazine isn’t paying you for your work.
- Writing for friends or family to build your clips while getting them publicity (or notoriety!) I’ve edited several of my father’s books without pay, but when he won the Bram Stoker award (tying with Clive Barker!)––I put THAT on my résumé!
Q: Are writing conferences worth the money?
A: If you get a good one that’s tailored to YOUR needs, absolutely. There are lots of different types of writers’ conferences, though. So if you’ve been to one (or two or three), don’t assume they’re all the same. I taught a magazine writing workshop at the Pikes Peak Writer’s Conference back in 2001 and was shocked that there were almost no other non-fiction-focused workshops. Almost all were geared to the craft of writing (fiction), finding an agent, writing dialogue, developing characters or plot, etc. Some conferences are more diverse, offering fiction and non-fiction (or even things like copywriting, editing, and script writing), while others are very focused. Most will give very accurate descriptions on their Web sites, so do your research.
To find an upcoming writers’ conference, visit http://writing.shawguides.com. You can search by date or region. Or learn about the latest and greatest conferences at the Writers on the Rise Conference Confab column by Pamela Kim.
FYI, if you’re a magazine writer, I’ve heard great things about the “One-on-One” conference in Chicago. Supposedly you get much better face time with editors from major national magazines that pay upwards of $1/word. One sale could pay for your trip! Please note that, unlike most, this conference requires that writers apply and be selected in order to attend.
Articles, books, greeting cards, oh my! Wendy Burt is a successful full-time freelance writer and editor who has more than doubled her income since leaving her job as a newspaper editor just three years ago. With two women’s humor books for McGraw-Hill and more than 1,000 published pieces, Wendy’s typical day might including writing ad copy, greeting cards, health articles, personal profiles or her marketing column for Her Business magazine. Her work has appeared in such varied publications as Family Circle, The Writer, MSNBC.com, NewYorkTimes.com, Home Cooking Magazine and American Fitness. Wendy teaches “Breaking Into Freelance Writing” and still finds ample time to spend with her beautiful baby, Gracie. Visit www.BurtCreations.com to see books by Wendy and her award-winning dad. More info at www.WendyBurt-Thomas.com.