The problem with working for free for “exposure”

- February 14, 2021 2 MIN READ

I’ve been approached a couple of times recently to speak at events, sharing my expertise. Unpaid, right, but of course, the *exposure*, *free marketing*, *discounts on our products*! This sort of stuff is rife in the creative fields. The first request, I was really polite.

Yesterday, upon receiving a similar request, I thought, ‘yeah, nah’. After reading through the lengthy brief of what this person was asking professional writers to speak about at this upcoming webinar (for which attendees would pay, obvs), I frantically Googled how to respond, and ended up with:

“Hello …,

Thank you for thinking of me to contribute as a speaker. As a parent, however, my priority must be on paid assignments (regardless of potential for exposure) and I’ll therefore have to pass on this offer at this time. I wish you and the team at … all the best.”

I think she didn’t really get the subtext, as she then asked me whom I might recommend: “Thank you for letting me know I appreciate you getting back to me. Please let me know if there is anyone you would recommend for this topic.” There’s no way I’ll be referring her onto any of the hardworking writers in my network. So I raised the notch slightly on my response:

“Thanks for your understanding, … At this point, I’m afraid I can’t recommend anyone. Most of my writing colleagues are similarly inclined to me, and part of the growing movement of creative professionals calling out the exposure model. I wish you all the best.”

I wonder if I’ll get a response?

More and more, I’m standing up for my right to be compensated for my expertise and skills. In something that will actually pay my rent. I wish the same for you!


This post was written by Louise Correcha, founder of Hummingbird Writing