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Should You Write for Free?

freeAre you tired of publishers, both print and online, expecting writers to write for free? I know I am. I feel a rant coming on, but I will restrain myself. Ask yourself whether you want to take any opportunity to get your work published, even if it means submitting to non-paying markets? I have mixed feelings about it, so here’s my two cents.

Yes, write for free, because non-paying markets provide:

  • Bylines to use when marketing to other publications. (You can sell reprints after the piece is published.)
  • A chance to establish yourself as an expert in your subject matter and showcase your writing.

No, don’t do it because:

  • It’s just not fair for publications not to pay their writers. (The Bible does teach that the laborer is worthy of his/her wages.)
  • You need some income from your writing in order to justify spending time on it.

Well, maybe:

  • I’m just not getting published, and I’m ready to try anything.
  • I’ve had a lot of work published recently, and I want to “give back to the community.”

How do you feel about this? I’d love to hear your comments.

Photo credit: Image courtesy of Stuart Miles at

6 Responses to Should You Write for Free?

  1. Jeanne Doyon September 23, 2014 at 3:20 pm #


    I struggle with this also. Most of my writing has been published without pay–yet the rewards have been sweet.
    People have been touched by the message
    Others have shared with friends
    And, my ministry is getting known.

    I don’t mind giving my writing away – but should look at getting paid jobs too.

    I guess I hope that paying opportunities will increase. Part of that is scoping those out and submitting my writing.

    I do need to show that my ministry is viable (showing a profit at the end of the year for the tax man) but I also know the God’s Word will not come back empty without accomplishing what He intends.

    I’m looking forward to the responses to your question. Is there something else I can do to be a better steward of my writing? I have three children all living in different states – just having the income to be able to visit them would be awesome!

  2. Cecelia Lester September 23, 2014 at 6:43 pm #

    Emily: I wrestle with this issue quite often. I enjoy writing and yet, I will one day have to justify myself with my family as to why I didn’t do other things for us.

  3. Emily Akin September 24, 2014 at 8:04 am #

    Thanks for your input on this, Jeanne. Terry Whalin tweeted this post, and I got a response through Twitter from a pastor in India who said: “Yes, (you should write for free) if it saves souls….for salvation.” Something to think about.

  4. Emily Akin September 24, 2014 at 8:07 am #

    I think many writers struggle with “guilt” about their writing if they are not earning money from it. Consider this. Many people have hobbies that don’t bring income. And some of them spend a lot of time on their hobbies. If you do have income from your writing, you have to deal with how to report it on income tax (which takes more time). The “payoff” of ten comes in the form of testimonies from people who say that your writing has helped them in some way.

  5. Diana Derringer September 24, 2014 at 1:33 pm #

    I write for a few publishers without pay, mostly reprints.

    Some of my most rewarding writing is radio drama for Christ to the World Ministries, an all volunteer team. I view that work as international missions from home. The dramas are translated into numerous languages and broadcast around the world, often in countries that allow no missionaries. You can learn more at

  6. Emily Akin September 24, 2014 at 3:45 pm #

    Thanks for your input, Diana. I recall writing for radio being covered in only one of the many conferences I’ve attended. Do you think I should research and write a blog post about it?

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