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Pulling back the curtain on a freelancer’s shame

If you spend time online, you know that we freelancer writers are madder than hell and we are not going to take it any longer.

Specifically, Arianna Huffington made $21 million by selling her Huffington Post to AOL off the backs of freelancers who wrote for free. (The transaction totaled $315 million.)

Our work is worth money and we should not be giving it away, especially to someone who is rich, freelancers said. Never again. (And let’s sue her while we are at it.)

Despite the warning, I went ahead and submitted articles to HuffPo. More than once, I am ashamed to say.

I knew I would not get paid but I confess, I wanted the visibility. I fancy myself a thought leader, but the metrics show I am short on followers.

Should be easy to get published for free, I figured.

I figured wrong.

Here’s how it works.

You follow the directions at HuffingtonPost.com and send in your article. You wait.

If you hear nothing, assume they don’t want you.

So I submitted. And heard nothing.

Alas, I couldn’t even give it away.

After all, they, just like companies soliciting resumes for hiring, are important. They are busy. And silence is golden. Why throw the silver of rejection expenses after gold?

Last week I discussed my shame with Sabrina Wottreng, Millennial PR wonder. (I’m not being sarcastic. As we aging boomers say, she’s one smart cookie.)

She confided that many submitters are rejected by Arianna and her crew. Believe it or not, I am not alone in my disgrace.

Happens all the time.

Nor does submitting to a specific name or email make a difference.

Nor are interesting content and proper punctuation the only criteria.

Another possible criterion is the author’s visibility on the internet. Before running an article, they examine the submitter’s social media participation and SEO visibility. They prefer to post articles of people who can publicize the piece through their own vast networks on Twitter and other social media to generate more inbound links.

Then there’s the question of how attractive the article titles are and how well they drive traffic.

Consider, “How green vegetables make us healthy.” Yes, the topic benefits readers, but no one cares.

Why not something dynamic like, “Lose 20 pounds this week with these five top-secret superfoods. (The CIA warned us not to reveal this.)”

Or “Melania Trump’s private diet tips that make her irresistible to The Donald.”

Originally posted 7-18-16

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