Saturday, March 12, 2016

exposure isn't enough, fam

I haven't written anything about this, because it's just started to bother me recently. I don't know how else to go about talking about this, so I'll just ask outright: why doesn't any website pay their writers? Why are writers expected to write for free?

Now, I'm being super dramatic. There are definitely websites that pay their writers. Lots of times they don't pay teen writers, or anyone without a degree. But I digress. 

There are websites that are so large, that have such a large reach, and still don't pay the people who write for them. I don't understand. Actually, I do. It's nicer to get a bunch of content from people who don't get paid. Even if the content is shitty. 

Because, like it or not, these people are providing a service. They are sitting down and spending time to write a post, to edit it, to reread it before sending it it. They are spending time to share this post, adding more traffic to this website overall. 

So not only does this happen a lot, but it also happens to teens.

I know a lot of friends who like to write for websites, and I don't blame them. It's great to see something that you wrote on the internet, for it to be retweeted and talked about like an actual thing. To be treated seriously. For your ideas to finally matter.

I think this also happens to black women a lot, to religious minorities, all sorts of people. That's another big part of this - minorities working for free. Teenagers working for free. People in general working for free. 

Writing is work, as if I need to remind you guys. 

I didn't mind when I first started writing, because I was so excited that people were finally taking me seriously. That I was actually getting recognition for my writing. I don't know when this changed - maybe when people stopped answering my emails, stopped answering the emails of my friends. 

It's one thing to work for free, but it's another thing to be working for free and be treated like an inconvenience. I don't know about you, but I've reached the point where I need to be paid. Not for everything, because there are some things I just want to do. 

But if I'm doing interviews or writing or whatever, I think that my time is valuable. 

Exposure is awesome. Writing for free has gotten me a lot of exposure, and I've met so many awesome people because of it. It's opened doors for me. But, at the same time, it's made me realize that I deserve better. 

I'm not saying that you should quit your job or position or whatever (though, if you're not getting paid, I doubt it's actually a job.) But I do think that we should keep in mind that our time is valuable. Our words are valuable. We have to find some middle ground between wanting to share that and needing to eat. 

Don't let people take advantage of you because you're young. Or because you're black. Or because you're a woman or queer. Maybe you're trans or Muslim or Jewish or something. Being different shouldn't mean that you have to work for free. 

Some people might say that you're entitled. Let them. They'll say that you're foolish. Let them. Ultimately, what matters most is:
A) How you feel about yourself and your work
B) How you feel yourself 

(In no certain order.)

I once read that white America has been calling black people lazy ever since we stopped working for free. That might not apply to you, but it also is something to think about.


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