I’ve often written things that I don’t get paid for directly.
It’s not that I never got paid directly for my writing. It’s just that I didn’t mind writing, even if I didn’t get paid for that particular piece.
Writing and publishing without getting paid often led to opportunities in the long run.
For example, several months after I applied to a job at Lifehacker, I got a response citing one of the guest posts I wrote—for free—much earlier for the publication. It would’ve been shortsighted of me to not write those guest posts.
A 10,000 word manuscript I wrote and published would lead to this opportunity to make Creative Doing with Holloway. Nobody commissioned me or gave me a deal to do the original manuscript though; I did it on my own, without getting paid directly until I made my first sale.
I still write every day at this blog, and nobody pays me to do it; in fact, I pay someone to host this blog, and I hire an assistant to republish my work at Medium. I occasionally make some money back; republishing this post at Medium generated three figures in earning.
The most valuable thing, to me, is I would’ve written that post anyway! I enjoyed the writing process. Every dollar I happen to earn is icing on the cake.
It helps that I can comfortably pay the bills with my editorial studio and work in technology. I figured there weren’t many opportunities for most writers to find or create opportunities that paid well, so I made a decision not to force my writing to pay for itself directly.
This turned out to be an advantage because I learned to relish the writing process. I could make the time and energy to learn what I liked to write.
Even though I wrote stuff I wasn’t proud of (for a few years), I still actually learned to enjoy the process of writing enough that not getting paid didn’t matter.