Should you write for free?

Yes, says one prominent author, though a few bloggers are setting an example of how to write online and make money.

Each week, Evan Peterson rounds up stories from across the Web that scribes of all stripes should check out. Should you write for free? How does one get paid to blog? Plus, how language evolves and waitresses become writers.

Write for free: There’s never been a better time to find writing gigs. Most everyone reads articles on the Internet, and it takes a lot of writers to produce that content. Of course, many of those writers aren’t paid anything, at least not monetary compensation. So what of the value of having your byline published, building your brand, your published writing as credential? That’s worth a lot and you should keep doing it, no matter where you are in your career, writes author Kristin Houghton.

Name recognition is priceless, as it leads readers to search for, and find, your other work. And remember, just because it is for free doesn’t mean you should skimp on the quality of what you are writing. Write it the same way you write for pay. Your name and your work are your brand.

…or get paid: At some point, when you’ve bled over your keyboard long enough and persevered to the end of all the posts and articles you’re writing, you have to think about distribution. If you’re a blogger with tens of thousands (or more) followers, it’s time to get paid. That’s about the rate at which you can begin making enough money to blog full time, according to this piece that highlights a few bloggers from Chicago. Make money through affiliate links, hosting events or writing posts on behalf of brands. Doesn’t sound like production, but it’s what allows bloggers to make blogging their job.

Which grammar rules would you throw out?: Even the most prescriptive of grammar nerds has to admit that the descriptivist wing has a valid argument against some traditional rules of language. There are a few guidelines writers just don’t use anymore, or there was never a good reason for them to exist in the first place. The Columbia Journalism Review asked readers to share the rules they would lose. One reader asked where you draw the line once you start throwing things out. To which they said:

We are not advocating wholesale abandonment of grammar, merely the recognition that at some point, some of those “rules” change, because, as Anderson noted, “language evolves.”

Remember, however: Without rules, there’s chaos.

Waitress to writer: Who doesn’t love a story about a low wage worker becoming an accomplished Hollywood screenwriter? The story of how Diane Ruggiero-Wright went from waitress to writer is inspiring, and like other big break stories, is built on a chance meeting — in this case, at a cafe. But that doesn’t mean she’s lucky. It means she talks to people and had a writing sample to show. So I suppose the lesson is keep writing, and talk to strangers.

Evan Peterson is a writer based in Chicago, and the editor of OpenMarkets magazine at CME Group. He’s on Twitter at @evanmpeterson.


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