I love working at WoW Insider, but I’m always looking for a writing gig on the side. I like scanning Craigslist for opportunities. It is amazing how many online blogs/magazines/news-sites are offering no compensation but the exposure. Of course, some writers must be taking them up on that else companies couldn’t get away with offering zero pay so often.
When writers take these jobs without pay, they are reducing the opportunities for all other bloggers. They devalue themselves and every one else wishing to blog for a living. Exposure is not compensation, particularly on a site that is struggling for readers.
Worse than the sites who openly offer no compensation are the ones who are misleading. I contacted a blog today that I would have been a good fit for. The compensation said TBD. TBD means To Be Determined. In general, TBD indicates that the company will decide what to pay you and would probably be willing to negotiate. It does not mean no intended compensation now and in the future.
The blog is very strict. You have to meet hard deadlines, follow a specific format and generally be an above par writer. When we discussed compensation, the editor indicated there would be no monetary compensation, just exposure, links, press passes and event invitations. That is not TBD. That is AD or Already Determined and you get diddly to pay the bills with — all this for a site with tons of ads and not very many readers. I politely declined, even though I wanted to flame him.
Please. If you want to write, write on your own blog if you’re willing to do it for free. Or combine with other writers on the same subject to provide content for a focused blog. Otherwise, if a company that is making money off of advertising offers you exposure and other non-bill-paying compensation, do not do it. It’s for your sake and every other blogger out there.
WoW Hunters Hall has an excellent write-up of how to start your own blog. I found the advice there very helpful. It is also an excellent example of people pooling their resources to create a valuable blog. And a valuable blog can be used in portfolios and resumes to gain paying jobs in the future.
I’ll keep looking for a side gig while I follow Frostheim’s advice on making this one as much of a success as I can. If you are doing the same, beware of misleading postings.