While writing for free can lead to exposure, it can also lead to a zap of energy. You spend all this time writing for absolutely nothing but the hope of something leading from it, and you miss out on time to market to new clients and write content that will actually keep the roof over your head.
So you need to reduce your time writing for free. Not sure how to get that balance right? Here’s how I do it.
Tip #1: Make Sure the Site Is Worth It
I don’t write for free unless I’m getting something out of it. After all, time is money and I’m going to use my time to do this. So, I’ll always assess what I’m gaining when writing for free.
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Not sure what you’ll get out of it? Check that the site owner is happy with a link back to your own site or your social media. This is something I do with guest posts. After all, the people reading my content need to know where else to find me! If they don’t allow a link to anywhere or it’s not for social proof for clients, I’m not going to say yes to writing for free.
Tip #2: Keep the Post Short
While long-form posts are doing well, you want to limit the amount that you write for free. When I have a guest post on my blog, I’m happy with content that is at least 300 words long. Any less than that and it’s not going to do well with Google and it’s probably not covered anything in-depth or worthwhile.
When I write guest posts, I stick to between 500 and 1000 words most of the time. I’ll take a look at what other submissions are like or ask the site owner if there’s anything specific, but 500-1000 words seems to be the norm.
In fact, The Huffington Post recommends less than 1000 words for its site.
Of course, there’s still the idea of writing as much as it takes to cover everything needed without adding in the fluff.
Tip #3: Don’t Do More than Two a Week
While you want to get guest posts out there, don’t agree to any more than two free posts per week. And I’m not just talking about to one site (that’s the next tip). I mean across the board. You don’t want to spend all week writing for free and find you have no time for anything else.
Two a week is usually a good amount for research and a constant flow of guest posts and social proof.
If you don’t have a deadline for the week and you’re getting to Wednesday or Thursday, there’s no need to purposely create one. Some weeks you won’t write anything for free. That’s okay!
Tip #4: Avoid Writing for Free More Than Once for a Site
The only time I’ve done more than one piece for free on a site is when I’ve changed niche or tactics. I’ve created more than one piece of content on The Huffington Post when I’ve changed my area of expertise or my target audience. It helps to create social proof for the different areas that I write in.
However, I don’t recommend writing for free more than once for a site other than for that reason. In fact, sometimes it’s not worthwhile even if you do change niche. Look for a different site to get your content posted and send a high authority link to potential clients.
By limiting the amount you write for a site, you instantly cut down the amount of time you spend writing for free. Eventually, you’ll have used up all the sites and just have a bank of links to send out as samples. Your job is done.
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Tip #5: Ask for a Fee for Your Work
Fed up of writing for free? There are some sites that could afford to pay their contributors. If you want to avoid wasting time on a site that you’re not sure about, ask about compensation for your work.
This isn’t always going to work. Some of the sites will say a swift “no thank you” and move on. If you want to do a free piece to get a byline after that it’s up to you. But you don’t have to. Move onto the next site instead.
If you do get paid for your work, you’ve just added to your income.
Don’t spend all your time writing for free. Take steps to limit the amount of hours you spend creating content for nothing and use the time wisely for other areas of your work.
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