Should Freelancers Give Away Content?

Blogs. Flickr. Half a dozen other websites that are free to join, allow you to post your writing (and photographs and other work) and links back to your website. Are they worth it for those of us who make a living off our creativity?

I happen to like most social networking sites. I run a blog of my own that doesn’t make me any money — you’re reading it right now. So, my surface answer has to be that, yes, I think giving away my work is worth it, or I wouldn’t be posting here. But that answer doesn’t address any sort of subtlety.

I don’t give away anywhere near a majority of my work. While I spend time updating my blog, I usually chalk up the effort to marketing and networking. Same goes for sites like Flickr or Twitter. I’m not updating content because I expect to get paid, but I do expect some recognition for my work — like when a potential client contacts me because of my blogging.

There’s a limit to how much time I spend on not-for-profit projects, though. Considering the fact that I like to eat, paying gigs simply have to come first. That reason means that there’s a clear correlation between the amount of work I have and the time I spend updating profiles or posting about the business of freelancing.

In the end, my answer remains that freelancers should give away content, although not too much. Consider it a sample you’re offering up to tempt clients. Give them an idea of just how amazing your work is, and then let them know that you’re available for hire.

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