Writing for Free vs Writing for Money



This has been something on my mind lately. For two reasons – firstly, I’ve had something accepted by a professional SFF mag this week, at professional rates. That’s been super exciting. But something else that happens at the end of this year is that I change my visa type (I am not currently working in the country of my nationality). The visa I change onto in 2017 has conditions attached, the biggest one being the I can’t earn money outside of my sponsored profession.

So I basically won’t be able to earn money from writing without breaking the terms of my visa. Which is a bit disheartening. But it’s not forever, but I don’t really want to stop writing during that period (I think I’d find it hard to be honest – I’ve been doing this since I was 13. That’s more than 10 years)

Thus, I’m thinking about the difference between writing for pay, and writing for free. There’s a couple of things that writing for money gives you:


  • Validation (Yay! Someone’s liked my thing enough that they’re paying for it)
  • Working with other professionals (Getting paid normally means being edited – something I’m really looking forward to)
  • Exposure (people see your stuff because it’s coming from a trusted source)
  • All the other stuff that a publisher does (artwork! podcasting! marketing!)

Writing for free:

  • Readers (I could just write, but then I’m just talking to an empty room. Words are made to be read)
  • Feedback (I’ll see reader reactions in real-time (via views, likes, kudos, etc)
  • Encouragement (I won’t just be talking to an empty room)
  • Motivaton (If I’m writing it for someone, I’m more likely to write in.)

There are losses though in writing for free

  • No dosh (this isn’t a massive issue for me, as it’ll be the compromise I make to keep my full time, much better paying, enjoyable job)
  • I lose out on the exposure, the editing, and the marketing/artwork/ect
  • It’s still published. Which leads to the biggest problem I’m struggling with atm:


Anything that I think is work publishing, I sort of want to publish professionally.

If this was a perfect life, what I’d do is I’d do the rounds with a short story, and when everyone had said no, I’d chuck it on my own website. That way I’d get a nice mix of the pros of the above, without the cons.

But I won’t be able to submit anything past Jan of 2017. So the writing for free with will be my main focus with my writing.

I can’t sort out what I want to do. Do I take my current WIP and make that my focus? Do I take the short that’s made the rounds with most places, and start a series of connected shorts? Do I do both? Do I try something totally different (e.g.learn to draw and start a comic)?

And then what platform? Wattpad? Amazon? My own blog?




Picture courtesy of Andre Ribeirinho via Flickr Creative Commons


2 thoughts on “Writing for Free vs Writing for Money

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