Monday, 30 June 2014

What Is A Hospital Without Doctors?

He called and said a friend was starting a magazine and would like me to submit articles. I thanked him for thinking of me. I asked him a couple of questions - what the magazine was about, who it was targeted at etc. He answered like someone who had thought through all the possible angles. Then I asked, "How much is your budget?" He said there was no budget. That they were just starting out, publishing in Nigeria costs an arm and two legs, bla bla.

I got a message to expect a call from someone
who was interested in my writing. He called and went straight to the point. The conversation was smooth until we got to the 'what's your budget' part. He thought his platform will drive traffic to my blog and increase visibility for me so he hadn't set aside any budget. In other words, I was just supposed to write.

A national newspaper wanted me to submit write ups weekly but quickly added that they don't pay writers; they give them visibility and a platform, bla bla.

Before I go any further, I need to state for the record, that my issue is not about whether or not I am going to get paid. My annoyance has to do with the premium I think has been placed on my time - not much. That doesn't make me feel good one bit.

This is what I told the last three people who approached me to write for them without any plans for remuneration in cash or kind: I told them, for every piece you see on my blog, it takes me between one hour and forever to put together. I write, rewrite; edit and re-edit until I think what I have written is worth someone else's attention. Writing takes time. It is a lot of work. Sometimes it is not fun. A lot of times I do it, believe it or not, because I think some things just have to be said. 

For anyone who owns a publishing platform on or offline, make sure you have a content creation strategy and BUDGET in place before you go live. It can be as simple as drawing up a list of close writer-friends who will send you articles until you can afford to hire freelancers or full time writers. Creating a brilliant platform and then asking writers to 'dash' you articles is like building a hospital, fitting it with the best medical equipment and then asking doctors and nurses to work for free. It just doesn't work. They are the reason people visit your hospital. It is the same with writing. Content is king. People don't visit blogs or websites to check out the latest widget you have installed; they visit because of what you have published.

Even if you can't pay, there has to be a way to capture the value the writer adds to your platform. It is left for you to come up with an offer that provides that opportunity. For whatever it is worth, you need to respect the time it takes to churn out good content; you need to respect the writer and his art/talent/profession/vocation. Offering publicity for content may work for rookies who are just happy to be read, but it insults the intelligence of the one who has taken time to hone his/her craft, the one who must find his muse irrespective of how he feels or what time of the day it is.

And for those who don't bother to even ask me, who just pilfer content off my blog, change the titles, edit how they want and publish elsewhere, one fine morning I will wake up and decide I have had enough. May God help you when that happens.

©Naomi Lucas


Amaka Anozie said...

Well done Naomi. 100% correct. I write too and yes many times, writing is not fun. It's HARD WORK.Thanks for this write-up

Naomi Lucas said...

Hi Amaka, Writing can be hard, especially those times when it just seems like your brain has stopped functioning :)

Anonymous said...

If visibility were all writers needed, we would wear High visibilty vests. The effrontery with which some people ask you to write for nothing galls particularly when they make it seem like they're doing you a huge favour.

Olayinka said...

Ok. Am learning alot!thank you so much.