I held the phone in my hand, staring at the receiver. The person on the other had just muttered something unprintable, and hung up on me.

My offense?

Simple. I didn’t want to write five blog posts a week for free.


This call came from an “entrepreneur” who contacted me by email; he said he wanted an experienced, knowledgeable writer to populate a “high profile” blog, though the true “height” of the profile fell as the conversation wore on.

In my email reply, I said I’d been asked to write several blogs, but the stumbling block was always budget — a gambit I use to filter out those seeking freebies.

Sadly, he called anyway, but more startling was his attitude; he expected me to jump at the chance. And got agitated when I didn’t.

You Can’t Eat Exposure

Exposure is fine. Exposure is good. Still — despite recent scientific advances — you can’t actually eat exposure.

In the copywriting world, the promise of “exposure” is fast replacing “there’s more work in the future” as the empty negotiating promise of choice.

When a prospect promised me more work in the future, I learned to ask two simple questions: how much work, and what kind of contract were they willing to sign right now?

Similarly, when someone promises you exposure in lieu of monetary compensation, you’ve got every right to ask “how much exposure?”

If they can’t (or won’t) quantify the audience, it’s like saying “we’ll pay you, but we won’t tell you how much.”

Copywriting is evolving rapidly, and it’s not all for the better. Truthfully, I’ve never been asked to write so many commercial projects for so little.

When confronted by that choice, I simply asked the prospect exactly what he was offering me. He hung up, suggesting he wasn’t offering much.

I wouldn’t go for that. You probably shouldn’t either.

Keep writing, Tom Chandler.