Let’s Talk about Exposure

So let’s talk about exposure. I write a blog. It’s not a super popular blog, but it gets a little bit of traffic. I also have several books up for sale on Amazon. Therefore, I garner enough attention to get emails that go something like this:

We’re really interested in your work. We are a small independent company looking to get off the ground and would love for you to write something for us. Unfortunately, we cannot afford to pay you but the exposure will be great.

I understand not having the money to pay what you would consider a full fee for something. I have a list of cover artists I will contact when I have saved enough money to be able to afford their services at their going rates. I would never, under the pretense of showing them off, ask them to work for less than their talent is worth. It’s a backhanded compliment. I like you so much I think you’re worth nothing. Notice how that rolls of your tongue? Say what you mean. When you ask me to work for exposure, you are telling me two things.

  1. Your time is worth more than mine. Be honest. If you wanted to take the time to do it, you could produce the thing you’re asking me to produce for free. Except your time equals your money while my time equals my money and you aren’t involved in my money (since you’re not paying me) and thus you have no worries about what it will cost me to do.
  2. Your exposure will get me seen by those who will further my work. This might be true or it might not. Once upon a time, I worked for Associated Content (prior to it being bought by Yahoo!), under the assumption that having my name in a byline would increase my chances of being seen by a legitimate publisher. Not how that worked out. Had I taken the stuff I wrote for AC and posted it on my blog, I would still have it instead of it being lost in the bowels of the internet and I would have increased the following on my blog, which has actually garnered enough attention to get me offers to work for free. I did not work for AC for free, but for compensation dependent upon the number of clicks each piece received. In short, I worked for pennies. To my knowledge, it wasn’t worth it.

I know, I know, you’re a small business with no budget and that means you cannot afford to pay me for my work upfront. Notice the caveat. I’m more than willing to work for a slice of the pie you hope to garner with my aid. Offer me some share in the company or something else I might want (must have established monetary value). That way, you, Mr. Business Person, are not having to take out of your precious coffers to get what you want from me.

Or, of course, you can piss off. In my mind, if you’re not willing to give me something for the work you say you enjoy and value you don’t really value it, do you?

Thoughts, ladies and gents? Anybody want to dispute me? I invite you to.

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