Exposure Or Payment

I am eight months into this writing malarkey now and things are progressing steadily. With regular columns in the leading UK tattoo magazine, submissions to numerous other sites, and features on Psychology Today and The Guardian, the portfolio has both quality and quantity.

In the age of the internet, where anyone and everyone can let their voice be heard in a matter of minutes, the blogging and writing world is incredibly saturated. With so many people wanting to get their message out there, and with so much content being created on a daily basis, websites are spoiled for choice with what they can offer their readers. Admittedly a lot of the content is incredibly poor, but good content is available, and if you do not provide it, somebody else will.

With the market over-crowded, and the writers desperate to make a name for themselves and have their voice heard, the power lies with the editors. With so many options and possibilities, editors are free to pick and choose who and what gets published on their respective sites. It is this freedom of choice, and the saturation of the market, that allows editors to get away with not paying for content.

Huffington Post is the most obvious example, but the large majority of publications do it. The content that is created by the writer is published online and the only payment the writer receives is the “will look great on the CV” admission by the sites editor. My Guardian piece on Manuel Neuer has over 25,000 shares on Facebook, 200 Tweets and 390 comments. It also appears on reddit, and is cited as a reference on Nueur’s Wikipedia page. All of this I am extremely proud about, but my pride does little to help pay the bills.

Despite the success of my piece on The Guardian, I received no money from it. It is true that having The Guardian on my CV and in my portfolio makes quite an impression, but a life cannot be made from impressions. As much as I would love to have regular features and articles posted on The Guardian it is not going to benefit me financially one bit. And though I am not all about the money, I do have bills to pay, rent to cover and food to buy.

The late, great Heath Ledger, in his iconic role as the Joker, said: “If you’re good at something, never do it for free”, and that is something that has stuck with me. If I was making enough money to live off comfortably I would not mind writing pieces for websites and publications that I supported and believed in. Unfortunately I am not at that point yet.

The Joker

The fact that the likes of The Guardian, Psychology Today, and Skin Deep are publishing my work proves that the content is good enough. It is of a high enough standard for them to say: “yes, this can have our name. This can represent our brand”. With it being of such a standard, surely it is worthy then of some sort of payment. Skin Deep pay me for my monthly columns, and I receive payment intermittently from other publications, but The Guardian, with its millions of pounds backing, did not pay me for my services.

I am not bitter about this, but I am now faced with a dilemma. As I said, having regular publications on The Guardian would be incredible. Not just because of the exposure it would give me and my writing, but also because it leads to such things as Wikipedia citations, and the ability to thoroughly impress any potential employers. My name would “get out there”, I would build a following, gain a reputation, and improve my portfolio, but the bank balance will not be helped in any way.

Enter TitanBet, the betting company that I blogged for during the World Cup. They have recently approached me and asked if I would submit content to their site once more. Their reputation is small, their reach and exposure is minimal – in comparison to The Guardian – and they are not a dedicated news and publishing website. Everything tells me that I should turn down this opportunity, but after exchanging a few emails I came to the realisation that I could demand a price for my work. TitanBet duly met that price and now I have the opportunity to submit football content, and get paid for it.

That is the quandary I am faced with. Published work on The Guardian is more impressive due to its reputation and its exposure, but published work on TitanBet will actually benefit me financially. Recent figures that The Guardian reported on, show that “the median income of the professional author in 2013 was just £11,000” and in another article it stated: “almost 80% of go-it-alone writers are making less than $1,000 (£600) a year.” That is the reality of the situation, and with that being the case, surely I would be stupid to turn down the opportunity to receive payment for my pieces.

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