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When writing for exposure could be worth your time

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Most of the time “writing for exposure” is a waste of your time and effort. That is when it’s not. Here are times you’ll want to do it.

It is very rare that I recommend any writer produces content for free. You’re in business. Of course you want to get paid. In fact, most writers will tell you that writing for exposure is a scam.

That’s true in a lot of cases. There are a lot of big names that want free content so they can line their own pockets without paying writers properly for it. However, there are times that writing for exposure could help you out. You should only do it if it’s going to boost your earning potential in the future.

What is writing for exposure?

People will write for free to gain recognition for their work. They have their own byline on the content, and you can make it part of your portfolio of work when sharing with future potential clients. You’re literally writing to get your name connected to a big website or publication.

Some clients want freelancers to have been published in a big publication. There’s this idea that getting into the big leagues means that you’re worth more. Hey, don’t beat it down if you can use big names to your advantage.

When you’re starting out, the exposure can be good for you. A potential client could find your post, like it, and reach out to you directly. Others will want your sample links and you can use it, showing that you are published in a big name. If you’re rebooting your career or changing your niche, you can use the exposure to help gain new clients.

However, you want to use exposure for your own good and not end up exploited. Here’s how to make sure it’s worth your time.

Contact big named blogs and websites

You need to get in touch with the big named sites. These are slights like Entrepreneur, Forbes, and even The Huff Post.

Yes, there are bad things spread about some of these sites looking for free content, but remember this really is to help you. These big sites are major proofs of writing, and private clients will love them. Potential clients recognize the names.

If you can’t get through to the editing team or a blog manager, get in touch with the site owners. Make sure you have a full pitch ready to go: article title idea with some info on what you’d add into that article. You also want to make sure you get a byline.

Not all sites are going to accept pitches. You’ll want to reach out to a few with different pitches. Then you can write three or four pieces across the different sites.

Only write one piece

Don’t do more than one piece per site for free. Two if you really really want to cover something and get it out there. But one per site will be enough.

That’s your content to say that you’ve been published there.

You can then put the logo on your site and link to the article for private clients to see. When they ask for samples, you can send them that way. When they want to know where you’ve been published, you can put the site name in your email.

Just the one when writing for exposure really is enough. Any more than that and you’re not making it work for you.

Get testimonials from non-profits

If you can’t get onto the big sites or you don’t want to do that, you can offer some free work to charities. This would be a blog or two, but there’s a catch.

You want to make sure you get something in return. That has to be a testimonial for your writing.

Make it part of the deal that you get your byline and a testimonial from the charity or non-profit. You can then pop that on your writer’s website and draw private clients in that way.

When you write for exposure it needs to work in your favor. If it doesn’t, then step away and look for something else that will work for you.

Why am I considering it now? I’m trying to build my business back up and it’s time to get that proof out there. I’d only do the one for a site or two and that would be it. I don’t give my work for free unless I get something good in return.

MORE: The one thing holding you back as a writer

Where are you in your freelance writing journey? Do you write for exposure? Share your thoughts in the comments below.