This is the year I stop writing unpaid test articles.
I generally do not put word to page unless there have been agreed upon payment terms. This is just good business sense. But somehow, while in negotiation for gigs when the email comes asking for a free test article comes, I sometimes think maybe? And even worse, sometimes I say yes.
The articles are usually very small, only a few moments of my time. That’s the problem though, it’s my time and my time isn’t free.
In the course of my career as a writer (one that started as moonlighting, moved to part time, and slid into a full time thing) I’ve had quite a few requests for unpaid test articles. I have not done them all, there are a few that I have written but I can only remember ever getting one job from an unpaid test article.
Paid test articles? I’ve landed all those gigs. Unpaid, not so much.
This could be because with the paid ones, they’re invested in me. Unpaid, I’m squeezing them in between paying work. I’m not giving it my all with unpaid articles because they haven’t given me anything at all.
So instead of wasting my time, this year I’m done with doing them and really everyone should be. Sure, some people do land those jobs but really, what are we saying about what our time is worth as writers, as creatives?
I’ve had plenty of jobs in my life and this one is the only one where I am ever asked to do a trial unpaid test run to see if I’m a fit. I wouldn’t have stood for it with any other job. If a manager asked me to come in and work a shift unpaid, I would laugh. If someone wanted me to do an hour in their call center “just to see if I was a good fit” I wouldn’t even respond.
From now on, I’m treating unpaid test articles the same way. No matter how small they are, they still take time and my time is worth more than free.