To Market, To Market…

Your pro bono work could eventually lead to a plump paycheck.

Remember the old nursery rhyme—“To market, to market to buy a fat pig…”? The rhyme is quite catchy and very entertaining—especially for the young ones who immediately envision adorable, huggable, heavyset piglets.

As freelancers specializing in editorial services, most of us aren’t in the market to purchase a plump piggy. However, as creative professionals and independent contractors, perhaps our alternate prose can go—“To market, to market to get a fat check.”

Many writers and editors passionate about their craft willingly offer their services “pro bono”—sans a paycheck—for causes or businesses that are near and dear to their hearts. They happily work solo or collaborate with a team to produce a nice brochure, craft press releases for an upcoming fundraising event, or write marketing copy for online sites.

Editorial freelancers often go into business to provide their creative muse an outlet to work his or her magic—while honing skills within a craft that they find enjoyable. But ultimately they must still sustain their professional and personal lives. After all, there are financial and familial obligations that must be met. Why, then, should editorial services professionals write or edit material for free?

There are a number of reasons:

    Try something new—stretch your boundaries. By working on material that is new to your area of expertise, you’ll be able to acquire the skills necessary to work on it in the future—for pay. Basically you’d be adding to your portfolio—showing that you’re versatile and prolific. The next time a similar job appears within the paying market, you’ll be able to show you have experience in that area.

    Your volunteer work may actually bring in new clients. Work hard and produce professional work—you just may land some new clients. Perhaps, you’ll impress that small business owner—a fellow parishioner in the church where you offered your copywriting skills. Or, that marketing director who works for a powerhouse conglomerate whose child goes to the same school as yours. You never know who or where your next client will come from, so always strive to do your best—you may wind up with a steady stream of income.

    You may actually enjoy your new task. While you may never have considered applying for jobs within an otherwise new area, working on it for free may bring some wonderful surprises. You may find you actually enjoy crafting brochures or producing online content.

    Your generosity brings about many happy returns. Whether freelancers intentionally take on “pro bono” work for free advertising, often times, such corporate goodwill garners that much-appreciated outcome—positive viral marketing. This form of free advertising originates from consumers who voluntarily pass information about their experiences with a product or service, to other customers—often, someone they know. Positive viral marketing about your editorial services is something you “want” your target audience to catch and spread—to everyone they know.

So, the next time you wonder if you should offer your creative services sans your usual pay rate, remember that in the end, aside from the “warm fuzzies” that result from helping out—marketing your skills via pro bono work could eventually land you…a pretty plump paycheck.


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