I am trying something new so that you will have more columns to read

password protected humor column

I have this conundrum. I want to write for this site, but I can’t afford to write anything for free right now. Gotta pay the rent. Ideally I’d write something funny that I plan to sell, post it here, get some feedback from you and then sell it. But many publications will not buy work that has been published elsewhere, even if it’s a personal blog. So that means this site sometimes does not get a new column for weeks because I am writing and pitching and selling and don’t have time to write for free, unless it serves a special purpose, such as giving shout-outs to people I’m thankful for having met.

I think I’ve found a workaround. Here’s what I’m going to do. I’m going to post early drafts of my work on this site, but I’m going to password protect them. I could be wrong, but I think this will prevent the article from showing up in Google’s search results. I’ll let you know what the password is, and you can read or comment. I appreciate the comments because as a freelance writer I don’t have an editor to read my work before it goes out. I’m not counting on you to edit me, but feedback can be helpful.

So, let’s give this a shot.

The link and password to my newest column, which I am trying to sell, are posted on my Facebook page.

Is this dumb? Maybe. Maybe the market will slap me back into place, and I will have to change course, but a stand-up comedian doesn’t write a joke and put it in his Comedy Central showcase the next day. He works it out on the road for 6-12 months. Dave Barry had Gene Weingarten to bounce ideas and whole columns off of all week. I’m guessing. I don’t know. In my head they worked together and made awesome fart jokes all day long. Maybe they didn’t. Bottom line: What do freelancers have? How are we supposed to improve a piece before we try to sell it?

What I’m doing is creating comedy material. Some of it will work, and some of it won’t. And if I have an audience that can give me feedback before I take it to market, I want that feedback. The publisher should want that, too, because it means the work will be better. And it’s not like the people who read the piece aren’t going to click on it just because they read it once on my blog. If anything, they’re more invested in the work and want to see how it turned out.

Again, I may be in for a rude awakening, but so be it. What am I going to do? Fall from the bottom?

Many of you have contacted me via e-mail and in my various writers’ groups. Thanks for the feedback, everyone.

I will let you know how this experiment goes.

Photo by Carlos Luz

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Author: Joe Donatelli

Joe Donatelli is a writer in Los Angeles. He publishes The Humor Columnist.

  • Very interesting.

  • We’ll see, Earnest.

  • Judy

    Sounds like a plan — one that many freelancers will be interested in if it works. Can you patent it?

  • Ha. My ideas are open-source! (At least, this one is. There are others people will have to pay for.)

  • Sharon

    Let us know how it works. Sounds lke a promisingand beneficial workaround.