It is amazing to me how many people expect artisans and writers to work for free. It stuns me to the core at times. Because of the flooding market for artwork and writing, thanks to various online avenues, some folks just assume that if they query an artist or a writer that will work for free because it will help with their “exposure.”
Telling a writer or an artist to work for free because they will get “exposure” is no different than blackmail. Yes, I did just say that out-loud. I would say it again.
I am a writer and I publish my articles on my blog because I do love writing and I gladly write for free, for myself on my blog. That last part does not often sit well with people.
My wife is a truly amazing and gifted artist. She paints with an eye like I have never seen. She would be approached by people wanting to buy her art. My wife would tell them the price, but the person would insist that she lower the price. At first, my wife would because she wanted her artwork to be known, but she discovered, the more she did it, the more people would ask for it cheap. One time, a person took a painting promising to pay, but she never did. Recently, she told me she would never lower the price of her art again. I applaud her desire to see her art sell for the price that she sets.
Likewise, as a freelance writer, I often search for opportunities to write for a publication, whether online or otherwise. However, I came across one website that proclaimed it would not pay you the first three months, but if it liked your articles enough, they would start paying you. At first, I sucked in my gut and prepared to send them something, but then, I thought, “Wait, how do I know they’ll hire me? How do I know if my articles are well received?” I realized they could potentially get three months free labor out of me and then cut ties with me whether my articles were well received or not.
Would a marketer go to work for a company that said they expected him or her to work for free? What about a chef at a restaurant? Of course not. Every writer and artisan deserves to get paid for their work, especially if it is read or viewed in a way that moves the purchaser. No longer can a writer or artist be forced to work for free under the guise of “exposure.” We must recognize who is a good writer or artisan and give them their due.