Should writers do pro bono work?
|Trust yourself. Know your worth. Pay yourself first.
I'm sure I'm not the only one who has had to eat mud (literally, I used to work with dressage horses for living) to learn these valuable lessons in life. It's one thing to understand you need to do this, to put yourself first. But to do it in practice... it gets tricky. What's one more free contribution to yet another magazine for more "exposure?" Sure, I'll do some volunteer work after working my day job and then spending my nights writing SEO, blogs and translations. "Maybe next time they will offer to pay me?"
I'm a sucker for random act of kindness stories. I constantly seek chances to make other people happy and I sometimes send gifts anonymously just so people would feel good but not obligated to return the favor. But when it comes to writing and work... where do you draw the line?
In addition to eating mud for seven years I was a freelance writer. I guess I still am to some extend. Waiting to get paid was a constant torture. I always had a budget counted in my head to the last penny. When a client didn't pay, it sometimes meant that I was going bed hungry that night. It seemed more of a miracle when someone paid me on time. I always felt like sending them a thank you note. "THANK YOU FOR LETTING ME WORK FOR YOU AND ACTUALLY PAYING. YOU ARE AMAZING."
My husband constantly reminds me to "place the oxygen mask on YOUR face first." I often don't tell him about taking on a new volunteer gig or not getting paid on time... or not getting paid at all. I usually "forget" to let him know I donated for a friends GoFund because their puppy needed surgery. I wonder out loud how I still wear the same jeans I purchased when I was 18 years old but I keep working 12 hour days. "It must be the horse..." On an airplane, in case of emergency, always place the oxygen mask on your own face first. Then help others.
Where do you draw the line?