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/
You would think there would come a time when seriously misguided PR outreach would stop happening, but you would be wrong. It’s the gift that keeps on giving! No sooner does one crop of so-called professionals figure out that they’re being rightfully taunted, then another group steps in to take their place. It’s the circle of life, or something.
This is our cross to bear, as freelancers. There is always someone out there who figures we are just dying to work for them for free. I mean, that’s how you make a living, right? Giving away your hard work for the heck of it?
Honestly, most of the time I get this sort of “pitch” these days, I just delete the email. It takes time and energy to explain, over and over, why it’s insulting and ridiculous to be asked to work for no pay. So most of the time, I just let it go. For some reason, today I took the bait.
The weird thing is that the pitch came in because of this site, Cornered Office—a place where it should be noted that I am paid per post to produce content. Huh.
The original email came from… well, let’s call this person Frick. And the email was copied to a colleague, whom we’ll call Frack. Both of these professionals have email addresses indicating they’re employed by a sizable PR firm. Some details have been changed, but here’s (more or less) the first email:
Subject: New Opportunity for Cornered Office
We work with SuperShinyNewSite.com – a new, fast-growing web portal that provides news, financial, job search and shopping services to visitors so it can give back to charities. The recently launched site already has tens of thousands of visitors a day and it’s poised to grow exponentially.
We’re recruiting a select group of bloggers to contribute to SuperShinyNewSite.com. We would like you to integrate your blog into the site. Coverage on parenting and working from home would be an essential element to the site.
The benefits for you could include:
Added national exposure for your blog
Strengthening your position as a thought leader in parenting and working from home
Unmatched growth potential
SuperShinyNewSite, the company behind the development of the site, is committed to putting the resources and effort behind making SuperShinyNewSite.com a success. The project already has had significant measurable growth since its start a little more than a year ago.
We’re open to suggestions and would consider regular blog contributions focusing on women in business, work/life issues and tips.
Visit the site. Look around and tell us what you think. Let us know if you would like to join SuperShinyNewSite.com in this exciting new venture.
Please do not hesitate to contact us with any questions. We look forward to further discussing a potential partnership.
Man. That’s an awful lot of words to say “we want your content for free,” but for whatever reason I went ahead and took a look at the Alexa site metrics for SuperShinyNewSite.com. They were abysmal compared to both this site and the blogs I myself own. So the whole “great exposure” thing was… a stretch, at best. But what about the charity angle? Maybe offering up your work when it’s for charity is a good idea! I poked around on SuperShinyNewSite and discovered that… 10% of their revenue goes to charity. Um. 10% of my revenue goes to charity, too, but I don’t advertise myself as working so that I can give back to charities.
In short, I smelled a rat.
I emailed Frick back, making sure to copy Frack as well (as the original email had):
I don’t work for free. Even if I was willing to work for “exposure” at this point in my career, a quick check of traffic statistics reveals that Cornered Office (for which I am paid a reasonable freelancer’s rate) and my personal blogs all have exponentially greater readership than SuperShinyNewSite.com.
Best of luck finding contributors.
I didn’t expect a response. But I got two: One from Frick, thanking me for my response (thumbs up for being appropriate and professional), as well as the following from Frack:
I work with Frick on the SuperShinyNewSite blogger initiative, and wanted to jump in to provide some added context for you. For now, it is correct that SuperShinyNewSite is not providing monetary compensation. But as the site grows, the opportunity for that will change.
We can provide you with the Double Click report that shows about 1 million page views in the 1st Quarter. That jumped from about 50,000 the previous quarter.
Yes, the site is new. But the principals behind have brought us on board to conduct a media campaign, and start their social media initiatives. They’re investing heavily in SEO and will soon start a full-blown marketing campaign. In short, they have the resources to do everything that’s needed to grow the site, and quickly.
They would be happy to have a Cornered Office presence on the site. Would you be willing to have two original blog contributions on the site a month to start? To see if it works for you?
Each post would include a brief bio, and, of course, a link back to your site of choice.
Please feel free to call me if you have any more questions? I’m sure there’s a way that we can work together to find a mutually beneficially arrangement.
We look forward to your feedback.
Frack needs some lessons in reading comprehension. And also for someone to demonstrate how one leaves spaces between paragraphs. But given everything that had so far transpired, I sent one last email:
Frack, I wonder if you read the entire email (it wasn’t that long) I sent to Frick. I don’t work for free. Most of the time in life, and certainly in freelancing, you get what you pay for. Will you be able to find folks to write for you for free? Undoubtedly. Will they produce the kind of quality content you’d get from a professional writer with years of experience (such as myself)? No. That’s obviously a choice your client is free to make.
Sure, I’d be willing to produce two original posts per month for you… let’s say $250/post. With the site growing as quickly as you say, that shouldn’t be a problem. If that’s of interest, I’d be happy to draw up a contract. If you’re continuing to fish for free content after I’ve explicitly clarified that I don’t work for free, please stop wasting my time (and yours).
Oddly enough, I haven’t heard back. Huh.
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