03 February, 2012
I recently saw a similar article regarding photographers. It hit home so hard I felt the need to explain it for my circumstances.
I am regularly contacted by companies and publications who either want to use my work or have me as a regular contributor. For free. I mean after all, what’s a little of my time sat typing in front of my computer right? WRONG.
There’s my computer for a start. Which cost me about $1200. Then there’s the internet I’m using to research for your article. That costs me about $500 a year. Given that I generally cover a lot of events there’s the petrol to get me there. $10. Then there’s the entry fee. Anywhere from $10 to $40. Up into the hundreds if it’s a festival.
I also know that while I’m out there in the field I am in part representing your brand or publication so it’s important to me that I look the part. So clothing and personal grooming are important to me and cost about $150 per outfit.
But it’s already published on your blog, so we want to use it but because it’s not exclusive content we don’t want to pay for it. WRONG.
To run my blog there’s my domain registration, DNS hosting and email hosting totalling into the hundreds. Not to mention the money I pay to have a graphic designer make my site look credible so that your affiliation looks credible. Also totalling into the hundreds. Oh yeah, and it's copyrighted.
And don’t forget, this isn’t just a hobby. I studied for three long years to be qualified to do what I do. That’s easily in the tens of thousands.
1,200 + $500 + $10 + $50 + $150 + $150 + $200 + $10,000 = $12,110
$12,110 it has cost me to get where I am right now. And that's being conservative. Do you know how much I have earned from all the blogs, guests posts, contributions and magazine articles I have written? Not even a hundredth of that.
The Media, Entertainment & Arts Alliance (MEAA) recommends freelancers charge $219 per hour or $892 for articles 1000 words or less. I am not asking for even close to that.
So if you’re a magazine, website, brand or advertiser who wants to use my work or even worse, write something completely original for you, PLEASE don’t come and ask to have it for free or in exchange for credit or “exposure”. You contacted me, you have seen my writing and deem me good enough to represent you so obviously I have enough “exposure”.
You have a marketing budget. This is what it’s for.
You obviously don’t expect your sales department or secretary to work for free. So please don’t expect me to.
Just because it is available online doesn’t mean it was free to create.
Still not convinced? How bout next time you go out to dinner you tell your waiter that in exchange for giving you dinner on the house you’ll tell everyone you know how good the meal and service was. See how far that gets you. At best laughed at, at worst thrown out. Now I’m still answering your emails politely…you see where I’m going with this?
Now I am all about helping out independent and community organisations and publications. We all have to start somewhere and there are definitely plenty of people and causes out there who I have no problem donating my time to. And I do.
But I also run this blog, work my full time day job and have a number of other regular online and magazine contributions. Aside from the fact that my time is in such demand, there is a lot more to creating an article than just an hour in front of my computer.
I'm not being snarky and I'm not aiming this at anyone in particular. I'm simply trying to explain the reality of it for me. It's very disheartening when people don't want to pay you what you're worth or at all.