You’re looking for a mechanic. You call around and find one who is nearby, highly recommended, and has an opening in his schedule. So, you give him a call.
“I need a mechanic,” you say. “It’s sort of urgent because my car is making a funny noise, and I need the tires rotated and oil changed.” He schedules you an appointment.
You drive to the mechanic and he presents you with an estimate of what the work will cost. “Oh, no,” you say. “I don’t pay in cash. I pay in exposure! I’ll tell all my friends on Facebook about how awesome you are, and I’ll live tweet my appointment!”
Does the mechanic work on your car?
Of course not. And, truthfully, no one would ever consider even making that offer to a mechanic! Or a dentist. Or a cashier or personal trainer or stylist.
Because that’s how those people earn their living, of course! They need to pay their rent, buy groceries, heat their homes, feed their pets, and so on. So, obviously, you wouldn’t offer to pay them in exposure, and obviously they would never accept to be paid in exposure.
Yet, creative professionals receive that offer frequently.
In fact, there are tons of splashy articles and videos online of writers spectacularly declining said offers… and publications’ reactions of shock and horror.
Just a few weeks ago I received a pitch to contribute articles to a popular website in exchange for said website sharing my work across their vibrant Twitter channel. As soon as Twitter followers pay my rent, sure!
Until then, I’ll work for money. Just like everyone else.