Why do I Write for Free? I’ll save the punch lines for my detractors – 1. because nobody will pay for it. 2. The cover picture has a bench that I sat on for two hours; seated are how many people will read this. 3. All the people who did read anything I wrote in the past are 6 feet under, just like Mr. Proffitt. If you can’t laugh at yourself, you’d never survive in the blogging world where 80% of every new blog started fails. 95% quit or write a post once a year at most. My new motivation (I’m joking) after eight years of this is that I have nothing more to lose; that is Why I Write For Free!
I searched on Google to see if anyone has ever used this title for a blog post and, surprisingly, I only found one. The article was written in 2013 on a ‘now-closed HuffPost Contributor platform.’ The location notes that ‘Contributors control their own work and post freely to our site.’ The platform was shut down in 2014, the same year I started ironically. Good luck finding any other place that promotes writing for free nowadays. The author has a blog where she has made 8 posts total in the last 3 years, none in the past year.
I hope she doesn’t mind if I steal a freely written paragraph from the clickable post above, noting she is better than me, having published one book. She notes, “Last year, when I first tried to sell my collection of essays, a respected literary agent told me that even if I had the funniest, most well-written book on the planet, I had little chance of selling it. She was not trying to be cruel. She was simply conveying the facts: that publishers are only willing to look at non-fiction from celebrities, bloggers who already have a huge following, or experts in some field like, say, attachment parenting, rare Asian fish, or the history of coffee.”
I can vouch for Kristen’s statements that it is tough to be successful in writing. My best web stories have, at best, topped 500 reads, and I have tried to help several friends publish their books. The most successful one I know has sold 700 books after a year, 10 of them to me. I believe in helping people with their dreams. Thus I have several boxes of my friends’ books (cd’s too) with some leftover that I was not able to give away.
For one, I made a loan to seed his book that was ‘guaranteed to sell 3,000 as soon as it’s published.’ A big mistake I’ll never make again, as I am not sure he sold even 30 and has yet to pay back a penny of the loan.
As irony goes within Kristen’s post was a link writing the exact opposite about writing for free. It admonished young writers to never write for free as it devalues the amount of time and effort solid posts require. Ironically when I clicked on the article, I could not access it as I got this popup that seems to show up on every website nowadays.
We all get it and understand why companies and wannabees are forced to find ways to monetize their sites and pay their writers or themselves for solo ventures. Nothing on the internet, including the services to get it in your home, is free anymore. One can easily spend $1,000 – $3,000 a year for services. And to build a nice web page will run the same for your start-up costs. What used-to-be free tools such as hosting sites, graphic design tools, photos, and fees for apps add up quickly.
When I felt my call to writing, my initial intent was to not charge for anything with the hope that some monetizing from ads would cover the costs. I read books from people on how to do it, attended seminars, watched videos, and even paid way too much money joining an ‘elite blogging school.’ It took me a couple of years, yes, I’m slow, to figure out the only people making money via social media or writing were either already famous, had a wildly crazy thing attracting lots of attention, were early arrivers, or wrote books and did conferences on how-to-be successful on social media or via writing. There are a few exceptions, but not many.
Sadly I made the mistake of following the things I learned, succumbing to pop ups, Google ads, and Amazon associate attempts. I became disgusted with how it operated and how everyone was doing it. I decided that if I hate them, so do other people. I took the losses as a lesson learned, removed the ads, and chucked the books. But the dream and joy of helping people through words in some way, shape, or form were still on my heart.
I believe we are made to be helpers and givers as the old adage of ‘it is more blessed to give than it is to receive’ is true. Share your gifts, be it art, helps, music, or even writing. Pablo Picasso said, “The meaning of life is to find your gift. The purpose of life is to give it away.”
The final adage regarding charging money or filling a page with junk ads on websites intending to provide great content is ‘do unto others as you want to be done to yourself.’ All and for more reasons is Why I Write for Free.
Deep down, there is a much higher sentimental reason on the spiritual side. I hope I shed some light for some to at least appreciate those who provide content for no cost and give them a little like, share, hit an ad, and comment love. Have a great day, but if you wonder what the spirit-thinking side says about asking for money and profits, head to the Portico…
Please don’t go away yet! Scroll on down and read part 2 for more. If this is your first time visiting Average Joe’s Portico, every post is written in two parts. You have just read the portion challenging the mind, body, and soul. In The Portico, I seek to tap into your spiritual side, but only IF YOU DARE. If you are in the mode of ‘don’t shove God down my throat’, this part is not for you, it’s your out. Otherwise, Keep reading past the Red Line Below and read on to Part 2 for the Spiritual side of the story. (For an explanation of my creative writing attempt – read the ‘Do You Dare’ Tab)
Church and money have oft been a division point for many. How much is too much pay, how much is too little? An old joke is said about religious leaders that there is only one thing that all religious leaders across the world share, whether Rabbis, Christian Pastors/Priests, Prophets, Muslims, Mormons, or any other, and that is an agreement that tithing is an absolute requirement. Most agree tithing must be a minimum of 10%.
1 Corinthians 9 is a good lesson on the importance of ensuring leaders are paid for their time so they can focus on preaching and not be held back with financial burdens, likened to muzzling an ox. I recommend as always reading the whole of chapter 9 for the full context.
The Corinthian leaders, ‘Apostles,’ and ‘Prophets’ wrangled with Paul over his authority, despite him being the one who brought the Gospel message to them. They were quite tight on managing the funds as Paul in a rarity was forced to discuss finances with them. Church leaders often use this section to implore members to contribute to the local church. I am in agreement that giving is a New Testament thing. I do not agree with the 10% tithing mantra and requirements some pose as if we are under the law. Certainly, ALL curses were broken when Jesus took them all upon Himself as a sacrifice for all. Anyone saying if you do not tithe you will be cursed is teaching a false doctrine eliminating Grace. We are to give out of an overflow of love, not out of compulsion or required law.
Just so no one misinterprets what that means; I believe a measure of giving (a better term than tithing) is best put by saying – give as much as you are Spirit-led to give – somewhere between 100% (not an in stone 10%) like Luke 9:23 says: “Jesus said to them all, “If anyone desires to come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross daily, and follow Me.” (the Cross represents ALL-in 100%)
1 Timothy 5:8 “But if anyone does not provide for his own, and especially for those of his household, he has denied the faith and is worse than an unbeliever.” This writing is not about the tithe topic. But I add, having worked with financially strapped young folks with families, there are many principles of finances in the Bible that should be deployed in the area of giving, saving, and providing, not written laws from those who benefit from a doctrine. We certainly believe giving is important, but I do not think you tell a person to give exactly 10% minimally of their welfare check to the church, the day they get saved, in order to fix their financial problems to be blessed and/or removed from a curse. Grace and balance are important to understand.
Back to Paul, his response to being questioned about his position as an Apostle in the NLT version was: “9:3 This is my answer to those who question my authority. 4 Don’t we have the right to live in your homes and share your meals?… 6 Or is it only Barnabas and I who have to work to support ourselves? 7 What soldier has to pay his own expenses? What farmer plants a vineyard and doesn’t have the right to eat some of its fruit? What shepherd cares for a flock of sheep and isn’t allowed to drink some of the milk? .. 9 For the law of Moses says, “You must not muzzle an ox to keep it from eating as it treads out the grain.” Was God thinking only about oxen when he said this? 10 Wasn’t he actually speaking to us? Yes, it was written for us, so that the one who plows and the one who threshes the grain might both expect a share of the harvest.“
Typically though, in most sermons on tithing Chapter 9 is closed at this point and we flip to Malachi 3. But Paul tells what he did despite having the ‘right‘ to expect some compensation/pay for his full-time work: 15 Yet I have never used any of these rights. And I am not writing this to suggest that I want to start now. In fact, I would rather die than lose my right to boast about preaching without charge. 16 Yet preaching the Good News is not something I can boast about. I am compelled by God to do it. How terrible for me if I didn’t preach the Good News!
17 If I were doing this on my own initiative, I would deserve payment. But I have no choice, for God has given me this sacred trust.
18 What then is my pay? It is the opportunity to preach the Good News without charging anyone.”
And I love this part as Paul answers the question of the title of this story as he continues in verse 18 – “That’s why I never demand my rights when I preach the Good News.” Another translation of the Bible spells it out in modern terms:
“So what is my pay? My pay is to tell the good news and not be paid for it! That is why I do not use my right to take pay for telling the good news.” 1 Corinthian 9:18 (WE)
Although Paul was a full-fledged Apostle, Prophet, and Evangelist, he was also a tentmaker by trade. “Paul lived and worked with them, for they were tentmakers just as he was. ” Acts 18:3 He made some of his money from side hustles. If you review American history, nearly all of the preachers in the early days did normal work like everyone else and preached for free on Sundays. It was only later in the industrialized world that full-time paid ministry came into play. With the Corinthians, we saw he preached to them for free. They did not have to buy him a first-class ticket and pay for his hotel for conference visits. In fact, a never quoted verse that should be a remarkable one, ends the book of Acts by telling us that Paul spent two years in Rome, all at his own expense!
“For the next two years, Paul lived in Rome at his own expense. He welcomed all who visited him, boldly proclaiming the Kingdom of God and teaching about the Lord Jesus Christ. And no one tried to stop him.“ Acts 28:30-31 AMP
Why was Paul compelled to do ministry without pay? Perhaps he followed Jesus’ teaching and went all-in with the 100% “Heal the sick, raise the dead, cleanse the lepers, cast out demons. Freely you have received, freely give.” Matthew 10:8 AMP Paul’s WRITING’s were all out in every area, not just money; “Be kind and helpful to one another, tender-hearted [compassionate, understanding], forgiving one another [readily and freely], just as God in Christ also forgave you.” Ephesians 4:32 AMP
I was inspired by another person who has a website where he charges nothing and has no ads or popups, his name is Mark Lane. (click on his name for the website filled with great wisdom on the Hebrew language and Biblical Numbers) Mark was asked in the comments of one page, that somehow I stumbled on the comment written in 2015) why he put 1000’s of page of info on the web for free?, here was his amazing answer:
“Can you imagine the frustration of finding something so precious as this and not knowing how to tell others? To enter into this sanctuary is to come out again with a calling to share this knowledge. My own conscience requires that I publish freely what I receive freely. Because of the internet, I can do just that.”
I thought about stealing his quote from 2015 and making it my own; who would have known? God would, that’s who. So I gave this man full credit for giving the best answer to my own story title of Why I Write for Free.
Another man had this to say about modern fundraising for churches and ministries. He is a Pastor and has seen 30,000 physical healings in his 72 years of living. I have no such credentials. So for those requiring more evidence of physical fruit, degrees, and theology school for validity, I quote Pastor and Author Dr. Roger Sapp from a thought provoking Facebook post:
Overcoming Traditional Thinking about Finances
“I would like to recommend that ministries, churches and Christian individuals never tell other people about their financial needs. We have never told other people about our financial needs. We have only told the Lord. We have seen Him answer and abundantly supply our needs many times. When this happens, He gets all the glory.
Some ministries and many Christians are in the bad habit of telling everyone what they need. This short-circuits the supernatural in finances and binds you to the natural. Sometimes God does use other people to supply. However, when you tell other people about your needs and then they help you, it produces an unclear and weak testimony. God gets little glory for helping you. Instead, pray about your need and believe that He has heard you and will help you. Keep everything to yourself until the supply comes. Then, give God all the glory.
Many Christians and ministries seem to be working FB and sending out mass emails to obtain money from other Christians. You need to understand that authentic documents from the Early Church – “the Didache” – tell us that the Early Church believed that if anyone in ministry asked for money, they were identifying themselves as a false prophet and a person of bad character.
The Early Church believed that someone in ministry should be able to receive from the Lord without telling anyone about the need. They also believed that the Holy Spirit could move people to help without them being told about the need. Hopefully, you can come to believe what the Early Church believed. ” Dr Roger Sapp
While these two are exemplary examples, I must mention some counter-activity. I will not mention a name, but it was a very recent video by one who is considered a modern ‘prophet.’ Frankly, I could pick many who do the same thing with constant promotions of their books, conferences, teaching series and requests for donations in all of their publications. One started a video saying he had the most important and the greatest dream of his life about our future and the coming of Armageddon. He shared a single verse from Revelations and went on about how this great vision that God told him was a must-read for everyone. After five minutes of working up the listener’s emotions, he then said to obtain this important message from God, you will have to buy his latest book for the message.
Jesus said that John the Baptist was the greatest prophet of all time before Jesus’ arrival. He lived in the wilderness, eating grasshoppers and berries. Can you imagine Elijah or Elisha or Isaiah pre-empting or closing out a prophetic message from God by asking people to pay for a written scroll to read it?
A year ago, when I was sitting in the graveyard and saw the tombstone of Mr. Proffitt’, I was thinking about the misspelling of the money term ‘profit.’ My heart was lamenting a new hotel being built above a beautiful waterfall in downtown, Greenville, SC. Workers were dangling dangerously from scaffolds with cables while they painted the sides of the multi $million facility. The natural landscape was being destroyed, and lives were in danger (probably making $12 an hour), as they were in the days of building pyramids in Egypt when another Prophet named Moses delivered the Israelites from slavery.
The Israelites were given everything freely (Manna & meat, water in the desert, shoes that never wore out) by God via a man who gave up a life of luxury and authority he had in the palace of Pharaoh. God expected that those delivered be thankful and faithful to what God had given them. Moses understood his role and sacrificed profits to be a prophet and to be a deliverer of God’s message. Oh, that our leaders today would set aside the need for greed and deliver people with the Gospel message of Jesus Christ in His church today.
I end with an important calling that Jesus told in Luke 16; it is in line with the goal that all Christians hope to hear (from Matt 25:21) when their time to meet Him arises. We want to hear ‘Well done, my good and faithful servant.‘ I fear that too many are spending their time trying to be ‘influential’ servants rather than faithful ones. The striving for influence and likes on social media is similar to striving for more money. How much does one need? I found myself caught up with the same desire after seeking advice on writing success. I needed to repent.
God doles out different amounts of talent, gifts, and even finances for each of us. Why it varies, I cannot answer. What is important to Him is not whether we are below average, average, or above – it is how faithful we are with what He has given us freely: 10 “If you are faithful in little things, you will be faithful in large ones. But if you are dishonest in little things, you won’t be honest with greater responsibilities. 11 And if you are untrustworthy about worldly wealth, who will trust you with the true riches of heaven? 12 And if you are not faithful with other people’s things, why should you be trusted with things of your own? 13 “No one can serve two masters. For you will hate one and love the other; you will be devoted to one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and be enslaved to money.”
14 The Pharisees, who dearly loved their money, heard all this and scoffed at him. 15 Then he said to them, “You like to appear righteous in public, but God knows your hearts. What this world honors is detestable in the sight of God.
16 “Until John the Baptist, the law of Moses and the messages of the prophets were your guides. But now the Good News of the Kingdom of God is preached, and everyone is eager to get in. Luke 16:10-16 NLT
Finding the balance on so many topics has taken me many years to grasp, and requires constant evaluation. Money and seeking influence/power are good measuring sticks to test ourselves. How we react when our influence seems nil or our bank account shrinks is telling. We have recently seen some major church leaders have major stumbles in their faithfulness. Those make the headlines; but how many average Joe’s/Jo’s have stumbled as well. We must be careful not to judge the success of some as greatness or the little bit of another to be a failure. A little old blog is just as important to God as is the mega church Pastor or the million-seller Christian author. Provided that the Good News of the Kingdom of God is preached. Just be sure we are serving God and are not enslaved to money or influence or anything else.
May this story’s back and forth thoughts inspire you to keep pressing on forward to the upward calling and work hard on the current calling God has given you. We all have a mission, do not let seemingly having small tasks be too little for you to be faithful to God. He is there with the young father or mother raising their first child and trying to support a family on minimum wage, just as He is with the corporate leader or major ministry leader.
Perhaps He is guiding you to work a side job for more funds for expansion or for that mission trip. Where does it say God provides for us only when we take the ‘step of faith’ by starting a go-fund-me campaign or asking people to support us, out of their pockets, for every endeavor? Perhaps instead, he has told you to teach your kids that God provides beyond what we expect when we are faithful and work hard on a side job or business while also learning the principles of responsibility and stewardship. Or maybe He’s told you to Work or Write for Free, or give to someone HE put on your mind to help. Both may be just as right as the other. Let the Holy Spirit of God that dwells in us guide our minds and hearts in every decision.
Lastly, thanks be to God, He has provided enough for us to cover all our expenses these past five years since I changed to writing with no ads providing all information for free. There is nothing to brag about or judge others who have not heard the exact same call. I only share it as a personal testimony to give Him glory. Perhaps some will examine how often they ask for payment when sharing God’s words or their ministry gifts. He may tell you or me something different tomorrow as we all should always listen for the next message from Him.
For now, that is Why I Write for Free.
P.S. – As I just wrote, I dislike popup ads and sign-up requests everywhere don’t you? But, getting the word out on new posts for free is a tough task on social media. If you would like to be notified about new posts and occasional insiders only heart-pour, pop me a quick email to JoesPortico@gmail.com, and I’ll add you to my mailing list. And please comment if you have one, I love interaction and feedback from my readers.