The quote on the left was spotted in an advert for writers posted today at – where else? – Craigslist. The publication in question was a wedding magazine, and what really winds me up about this ad in particular is the idea it seems to express that there’s some kind of difference between a “paying job” and a “freelance writing job”. Clearly these people are taking the “free” part of “freelance writing”way too seriously…

This is also a classic example of the “we’ll pay you if/when we become successful” school of thinking that’s so prevalent among a certain type of employers.

This is such a dangerous route to go down as a freelance writer, not just for the obvious reasons (if they’re paying the printer, graphic designer and distributor of their magazine, then why can’t they pay the writers?), but because it requires the writer to make a leap of faith which is way beyond “reasonable”.

How will you know when revenue has started to made from this venture, for instance? Will the magazine tell you? Will they pay retrospectively, so that if they suddenly start to turn a profit in 2010, they’ll get in touch with all of the writers who worked for free in 2008? And again, how will you know they’re making a profit?

The simple answer? You won’t. You’ll just have to live in hope, and pray that this complete stranger you’ve given your work to turns out to be honest. Are you willing to take that risk?


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