I got a notice for another new travel Website seeking submissions. The guidelines page made no mention of payment – which means there isn’t any.

I take issue with that.

Starting out, you need writing samples and exposure. I get it. It’s competitive out there, and paying gigs can be hard to come by – impossible without something concrete to show editors. And yet, someone out there is profiting in some way by the writer’s largess. Writing is time consuming, and can be mentally draining. It is work, and work should be paid. Roofers don’t offer free flashing for the sake of earning a few new customers – why should writers be expected to do the same?

I won’t mention the new Website I saw, because it does seem interesting, I support their mission and I don’t want to seem like I’m unfairly singling them out.

But I do think that writers are clearly being taken advantage of, especially with travel-oriented online publications. I saw one Web site run by a hugely successful author with a couple of best-selling travel titles, several television appearances, and a really glossy Web site with plenty of advertising – and some pretty great writing. But the latter, reading their guidelines, was clearly submitted by folks who did so merely for the chance to maybe score some free stuff or press passes, if they were lucky.

I wish a union of freelancers banded together and forced publications, even small ones, to give some kind of token to writers. It will never happen – to many aspirants will see it as their chance to sneak past the picket lines.

That’s why I salute WorldHum. Not only is the writing fantastic, but they’ve found a way to pay contributors. The checks won’t cover rent, but at least it pays for groceries (according to the guidelines).