with Mir Kamin
I'm a freelance writer and mother of two working from home, which theoretically means I can set my own schedule so as to best accommodate my family. In reality, "flexible hours" often equals "working too much." Yes, I'm my own boss; no, that doesn't mean life is easy. It's hard to leave the office when you live there. But I love what I do and feel very lucky. And not just because I get paid to work in my pajamas.
To learn more about Mir, check out her profile on Work It, Mom! or visit her blog at http://www.wouldashoulda.com/
In the midst of the “most wonderful time of the year,” when we should all be trimming trees or menorahs (hey, I know people don’t trim menorahs) (nor do I believe everyone is Judeo-Christian) (just go with me here, okay?), another community uproar has broken out over freelance writers and payment.
Specifically, there’s been a lot of discussion generated by the announcement of REDBOOK’s new “Motherboard,” a panel of bloggers who will be writing for them free of charge.
There’s been so much chatter about this already, I’m not going to subject you to my own long-winded commentary on this. Plenty of people have already covered a lot of what I would say, probably with less flailing around than I would likely do. But if you haven’t been following along—or would like to make sure you see several different takes on it—let’s take a look.
Basically, the announcement was made, and on the surface it looks like a great opportunity for the bloggers involved.
First Danielle Wiley at MomCrunch responded with Five Reasons to Just Say No to Unpaid Work, which is applicable across the board, not just to this current REDBOOK thing.
Then Ciaran Blumenfeld at Momfluential wrote the perfect companion piece, Five Stupid Reasons Mom Bloggers Work For Free.
And then Gigi at Kludgy Mom responded to that with Bloggers Working For Free: Not a Black and White Issue.
Now, you may have correctly assumed that I agree with Danielle and Ciaran, but I take issue with some of Gigi’s points. In particular, she says that “… I believe the theory that every mom blogger should be paid does more to undermine the earning potential of our community. Why? Because paying everyone implies that everyone is delivering value.” Paying does imply that everyone is delivering value. If you hire someone to do something, one assumes you believe there is value in the work they do. The argument that not everyone deserves to be paid isn’t support for stiffing people, it’s further evidence that companies should want—and pay for—quality. I don’t think anyone in this scenario is suggesting that every person in the world who ever started a blog deserves a paycheck for it, I think the point is that if you’re hired by an organization which pays its employees, they shouldn’t be expecting you to work for them for free.
Whoops. I said I wasn’t going to give you my own long-winded commentary. Ahem. I’m not, really.
So, uh, after you read those posts, I’ll just direct you to some of my commentary from the past:
I exhorted bloggers to remember they deserve to be paid for their work four and a half years ago. And then I revisited the issue a month later. And one more time, about a year ago, I begged my fellow bloggers not to sell out, which was basically the third version of the same theme.
And if you weren’t reading me back there, here’s something interesting—while my fellow professional freelancers were all “high five, sister!” about all three of those posts, I was crucified on plenty of “hobby” blogs for being elitist after each one. Because wanting professional pay for professional work apparently makes me a snob.
So I’m going to leave you with two thoughts, rather than allowing myself a full-out rant.
First of all, this pay/no-pay thing is overwhelmingly a problem among women, for a lot of the reasons Ciaran talks about in her post. This is not just an issue for the writing community. This is an issue for women in general. I don’t care if you take issue with the word feminist or not, if you are okay with so many women working for free when men never would, I will happily eat my keyboard.
Second, I think I may be done talking about this issue. The justifications that get whipped out for why “it’s okay” or “you shouldn’t care what I do” or whatever when this stuff comes up just makes me sad. For you. As I tweeted during a lively discussion on this topic the other day, I know what’s right for me. I occasionally write for REDBOOK; they pay me. And that’s because they asked me to write for free and I said no, I deserve to be paid. I do and now they do. It’s not rocket science. While my life would certainly be easier if there weren’t people out there somehow letting companies believe it’s perfectly fine not to pay their writers, chances are my life is still infinitely more pleasant than that of the struggling writer who believes she doesn’t deserve renumeration.
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