An unexpected pleasure

The business of writing is very often a set of knowns combined with a small number of processes.

You know what you’re pitching for, you know your capabilities, you know your aspirations and you know the payment you can look forward to if:
a) you’re hired for the gig
b) you deliver the goods
Often the surprises fall into one of very few categories:
1) changes to the requirements
2) changes to the payment agreement
Now, every month or so I take on some gratis work. Generally, but not exclusively, the recipient is a non-profit of some kind. Other times, it’s a start-up that is just getting up a head of steam. In all cases, I’ve done it because the project appeals to me and because I believe that I can make a difference.
There are also benefits to me of course, in that:
– I get to try new areas of work that I might never have encountered before.
– I to test my skills and to pick up key learning.
– I end up with valuable feedback and often a testimonial.
But it’s not about the money though. And, while I’m very keen on the idea of running a business that’s first and foremost about values and principles, I will admit to having a modicum of scepticism about how to do that and still be sufficiently profitable.
This week, however, life threw me a welcome curve-ball. I received a payment and thanks for some gratis work I did recently. And I have to say, it’s making me think that maybe it IS possible to do business another way.


  1. Deb says:

    Couldn't agree more, Derek. A few years ago I pitched some ideas to a national magazine and at the time the editor's budget was so small that she couldn't afford to pay freelancers, so I told her to have the articles for free. It paid off. The following year her budget increased and ever since every idea I have pitched to her, she has commissioned me for, so it really is worth looking at the bigger picture sometimes.
    Well done on your payment.

  2. e publishing says:

    Work has be paid as always. When we are working to get paid, we should be paid. Though in other cases, the result of writing may be quite different from monetary things.

  3. Deb says:

    Completely disagree with you, e publishing. It's not all about the money. Often by offering your services, (whatever they might be) to someone for free gratis, you build up a better portfolio, CV, get a foot in the door, or create new opportunities in your field of work.

  4. Derek says:

    When we are working to get paid, we should be paid – yes. The key point is that, for any voluntary writing or editing activity, I've gone into it with my eyes open without any expectation of pay. That's a world of difference, of course, to responding to an ad for a writer / editor and then being asked to write to a very specific brief 'as a test'. In such cases, often, it's a test of discernment!

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