The inescapable art and benefit of writing pro bono

A magazine editor gave me some advice not so long ago: if you're starting out you'll have to write pro bono.

She was the first editor to actually see past my query and spot something else. We all need breaks and mine went something like "hey, you've got the goods and we want you but first you have some learning to do." I accepted and I've been contributing to Exceptional Family ever since. Pro bono of course.

Hey, it's a learning curve they tell me.

Writing pro bono shouldn't be an issue. If you love to write it is what it is. I'm not suggesting you shouldn't earn a living off it or get paid for your work. Far from it. Sometimes you just have to learn to pick and choose your battles. Eventually I'll get my cut.

Which brings me to another thought. I helped to launch a sports site called Inter Sports Wire button to the side on the sidebar. It's a sport blog with an ambitious game plan - excuse the pun - but we're having fun with it. We love to write and we're, well, sports junkies. Why not make a site out of it? Everyone is doing it mom!

I don't know what the rewards - if any - will be. We may end up getting beaten up like the Patriots rough up NFL teams. Who knows? But we'll give it a whirl.

Part of the plan was to recruit like-minded writers to the site. Attracting such writers is tough given we're a blog and don't pay. We have to hope we fall on junkies like ourselves who just want to talk about sports. Even when you get an enthusiastic "yes" it's tough to get anyone to post articles with any regularity. It's normal. We all have our own sites and there are so many hours in a cloudy or sunny day.

None of this is a problem. It's the reality of blogging entrepreneurship. However, we have observed a special breed of writers out there who - shall we say? - miss the point.

On a couple of occasions we stumbled on journalists who moonlight as bloggers. When approached, they immediately ask: how much? They are practically ready to present a contract.
I even came across bloggers who wanted payment!

Isn't this a form of over-rating ourselves a little? Even for journalists this is a but rich. There's a gigantic pool of talent out there. What gives them the impression they are needed?

It's one thing to sell services in the mainstream world. It's quite another to super impose this on the blogging community. Blogging is the latest frontier of free-form writing creativity. Are we ready for the practical world of mainstream media? Sure the lines have already begun and it's a matter of time before we get a mainstream blogging vein. The clash of writing civilizations is inevitable just like the clash of classical Rome and Germanic tribes.

Inter Sports Wire aims to band together a community of high quality sports writers. Nothing more and nothing else.

To ask for payment misses the whole point of the exercise.


  1. Anonymous11/23/2007

    Though the pool out there is large but I have found that getting writers is not an easy task unless the site is well established.

    Readers mainly come to a site because of YOU alone and getting writers who are engaging and performs to your standard is no small task.

    SoccerNet Live

  2. Absolutely. There are so many ways to look at this. However, people do go for strictly the content too. Anyway, from what I hear and read, no one has done a study on this.

  3. It seems to me that writing pro bono, is nothing more than the writing equivalent of being an intern.

    Unless, of course, it is for a non-profit.

  4. That's pretty much what it is. Quietly build your portfolio.


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