If I had been paid for every portion of fries we sold at the concession last year, would that have made me a millionaire? Absolutely not. Was I often tricked into giving away a portion of fries, absolutely. I let them feel good. Was I asked politely? Many a times, but that didn’t pay the bills. At first, the rationale for us was that it was good for promoting our business. But, we had the best fries in town and they all knew it. John Gilchrist had given us raving reviews which drew people from all over the city for a portion of fries. Sometimes, the reasoning for was that the kids didn’t have enough money, even though some of their parents were walking around flashing their Michael Kors handbags.
We all let ‘it’ happen to us in some way or form. Sometimes knowingly, but mostly we have our own justifications, rationale and reasons. Would we do ‘it’ to others, given the chance I’m sure we all do. Then why do we get worked up so much when others try to do ‘it’ to us?
When I worked in a family legal practice in England, we had many volunteers and ‘wannabe’ trainee solicitors coming in to work for us for free. Did we refuse them all? Absolutely not. It was free staff who could help us work on our files and maybe give us a chance to catch up with our pending pile of work. Many a times, it was nice just to have someone else do the photocopying and filing for us. It wasn’t always done the right way, but we couldn’t complain about it as they were working for us for free. Yes, it was a little luxury that I never thought twice about at the time. But Karma, she comes back and bites!
Now, years later when I decided that finally I will get some Canadian qualifications to be able to work here since we decided to live here permanently after all, I have to do the same. I am back in that boat where I am doing my 2 month internship at a lawyer’s office for free. At once, it felt weird and sad that I was at this juncture after handling my own casework for a very long time. But then, I remembered Karma and that made me smile.
I was asked on my first day at the internship by one of the Partners, how I felt about being an intern for 2 months considering my previous experience. I just smiled and said, it was my payback time. She smiled back and understood instantly that I was fine with doing the work. Do I feel taken advantage of? Absolutely not. I know that I need to have the exposure to Canadian clients and files before I venture out on my own.
For instance, the first thing I learnt was that I probably write slightly complicated words that can sometimes get misconstrued. That was shocking for me. Why? Because I had been working on my food blogs writing simple plain English all this time, or so I thought. Every time I wrote a blog, I made sure it was in simple spoken English without any complicated words. But I forgot, English is not the first language for many people. What may be normal and simple for me, may not be straight forward for others. Lesson learnt.
The food blogging world on the other hand, has suddenly become totally monetized. Some bloggers would only work for money, whilst some are happily churning out blog posts promoting other businesses for free. Which one is right? The one that feels right for you. If someone is in the blogging industry with the prime objective of it being a business and where every word they string together has a monetary benefit, then it’s great for them. They must obviously be an authority on everything they write about and have a following envious of all mere simple bloggers. But is that necessarily correct?
Blogging for many started out as an avenue for creating online food diaries, or just venting out and writing when the urge strikes (like mine) but over time, they became a professional business. Now, it all depends on the reach of your blog. Those like me, who are not as active on the social media due to lack of time, may not be offered the same opportunities as someone who spends the entire day glued to their ipad or iphones connecting with people on the social media. That does not necessarily mean that the quality of what I write is less than theirs or vice versa.
There’s a lot of companies who love taking ‘advantage’ of the fact that there are many food bloggers willing to write for nothing whilst there are others who would charge an arm and a leg to string a few sentences together. It all depends on what value you put on your work and time. If I have lots of time to write, I might be fine with writing for free to get some exposure. It will give me time to practice and develop my writing. But if I’m short on time and I have to make a decision based on the opportunity cost for me, I might decide to give it a pass.
There is no right or wrong answer to this. Working for free is a personal decision and is like a twin edged sword, that can work really well for you and can also work against you. For me, I’m enjoying working my two month internship as I’ve been lucky to get one at one of the best law firms in downtown Toronto. I will learn a lot and it’s reminding me of how important it is to have a good quality practice. This applies to everything in life.
My working on the blog is a voluntary choice, but that doesn’t lessen my commitment to it. I choose to work on my blog posts for free as I enjoy the writing process and it has helped me create and find my personal ‘non legal’ voice. It would have been impossible for me to find it had I not just strung words together as and when I felt like it. For me, it is like having an online journal instead of the one I kept under a tiny lock and key as a kid. But, it may not be the right decision for others. Yes, you can make a business out of it and generate a healthy income from doing what you enjoy doing most. However, only if it continues to let you enjoy it. Keep enjoying what you do and the monetary benefits will follow. Let’s not lose the reasons why we started blogging in the first place.
Now back to the fries, these are only made at home now and they are for free as they are made for those dearest to me. The value of the fries changed with the different perspective and platform.