Writing without pay evokes mixed reactions within the writing community. I am the first person to agree that writers deserve to be paid. In fact, is it fair to ask writers to forgo compensation? Would clients feel the same about phoning a plumber to install bathroom fixtures as an act of charity?
Writing for free has it's benefits, but should also have guiding principles.
In my experience, writing for free began as a great way to produce large volumes of work, in a variety of forms, as well as hone my skills while putting my work before an audience.
My first volunteer writing was for my high school newspaper. Later, I wrote for a church newsletter, then a women's ministry newsletter. Next, I published a home education support group newsletter, writing much of it, for a total of about ten years. It was a great apprenticeship. I received helpful feedback along the way, and gained confidence.
Currently, my personal criteria for charity writing demands that the publication and/or organization is not-for-profit, Christian, and/or advances a cause I am passionate about.
My volunteer work at present involves managing a church magazine. It involves collaborating with other writers, as well as contributors, to produce a bi-monthly publication. I love doing it, it is non-profit, and it is to advance the cause of the Great Commission, as well as build unity in our local body.
In addition, I write a column for a newspaper which intends to make profit at some point. It is owned by a Believer, and my agreement states that I will receive payment once the publication begins to make a profit. I am compensated in other ways: my byline includes my blog information, so readers are directed to more of my work, which is overtly Christian; it is free advertising for me, which in turn may lead to more freelance work; and finally, my column is on a topic which I am passionate about, parenting and family issues, therefore I am pleased to be involved.
At the end of the day, my primary goal is to please God. I've relinquished my right to work only for monetary reward. My guiding verses are
Matthew 6:19-21 (NIV):
Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moths and vermin destroy, and where thieves break in and steal. But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where moths and vermin do not destroy, and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.
And going hand-in-hand with that portion of Scripture is
But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well.
I choose to do the Lord's work, and trust Him to provide. He has never failed me.