What’s your worth?

Over the years my friend and fellow #TrailsRoc co-founder Ron Heerkens and I have had discussion after discussion after discussion about photography and if it should be something that Race Directors pay for at their events.

Ron and a few other local runners who are also professional photographers started a photography business called The Ascend Collective. As a Race Director of small, non-profit events, I love the business model they use for our races. They come if they want. They take the photos they want. They sell them on their own site for whatever they want.

It seems like runners love the photos and many purchase them directly from the Collective. It is still not paying a rate that is acceptable for top notch photography services but it is a business model that allows the guys to make something out of all the hard work they do. (by the way – look at the links I just shared above, some of the work is simply stunning).

This weekend I read this post by Ian Corless imploring photographers to stop giving away their work for free because it is killing the industry. The argument does make sense to me – So does the argument on the other side ( I will just find it for free).  And that seems to be working for many publications and events.

Then I began to think about how this works for writing. At one point my running posts were being published on the Greece Post – Sometimes even in print. I have had more than a few articles published by Ultra Running Magazine or Trail Running Magazine online. Ron and I have discussed how it is cool to see your work in a large forum like that.

My friend Dan, a musician , likes to say "exposure kills"

The point these publications make is that you are writing for “exposure” or giving a picture for “credit and a link to your site”. The thing is, (chime in if I am wrong Ron.) This exposure has rarely led to paying gigs – That  has been done by pitching my skills and work to different publications.

It was though, still fun to see my work in these publications. That was until I wrote a piece that I created for print and pay – Only to see it end up online with no pay. I wasn’t terribly happy about it, there was some confusion about how it happened. I then thought that maybe these things happen because it is so easy for content to go up on these sites.

Like photography, the digital age has given everyone a voice. Everyone has a page. Everyone the opportunity to have work seen. With so many people writing (and taking photos) and looking for the “Hey look, i’m in a magazine” It does actually come harder to get hired for writing – The publications find quality content for no price at all.

Most publications have a page on their website for writers to submit work for online publication. Here is an example on Ultra Running – They even give a quick lesson on style and content creation for writers to follow.

I have not decided to stop submitting work that I do not get paid for. I have decided to cut back significantly on what I will offer for free and how much effort I will put in to it.

What are your thoughts? Should freelance writers and photographers submit work to end up in national publications for “exposure” or should we band together and say if you plan to use my work to sell something for a profit, you should be willing to pay me for it.

I’d love to hear what you all have to say.