Writing for no or very little pay is an ongoing debate amongst writers. When first starting out, many new writers are happy just to get a byline. Seasoned writers are quick to point out that if you write for free, you are proving, once again, that your writing has no value.
Many years ago, I meditated and followed a guru. Part of the program was attending retreats. The retreats cost money. Not a lot, but it was a hardship for many of the attendees. Our teacher was quick to let us know that people who get something for free don't value it. Is this true if we give away our writing for little or no pay?
Just last year, I signed up for a "free" writing course. I was looking forward to interacting with other writers. From the beginning several people took part, but as the weeks went by, fewer and fewer people attended and responded to prompts. Did people not value this because it was free? (This isn't to say there aren't things for free that people value, case in point would be the MuseOnLine Writers Conference which is offered free and attended by thousands of people world-wide.)
Now, some might say that blogging is giving your writing away for free. Others would contend that blogging, for a writer, is an integral part of the job. As a blogger, you market your name and your writing style. You also network with other writers, if your blog, like mine, is writing related.
Back to the original question, should you give your writing away for free? I believe this is a personal choice. I hesitate to do so now, as a professional, yet there are times I might consider it. For example, I'm hoping to expand into the children's magazine market. In order to build credentials, am I willing to send a manuscript to a non-paying market? The carrot here, for one particular non-paying market, is that it has a "best of" anthology. The stories selected for the anthology are paid. If I submit to this magazine, it would be in the hopes my story is considered a "best of." Some may say that a clip from a non-paying magazine isn't much of a clip, still, for some, seeing one's name in print is exciting.
What are your thoughts? Would you submit to a low-paying or non-paying market? Do you feel these types of markets jeopardize your standing as a writer?