Retiring From International Football Is as Stupid as Refusing to Write for Free

This is my first (proposed) piece for the Huffington Post and while I've been set up for a while, it's taken me some time to post.

Naturally, the bugbear is the whole 'writing for free' thing and whether I should sling my copyrighted content to a successful news organisation and receive exactly nothing in return. But what IS exactly nothing? Are the profile and the links to MY blog and social networks worth the effort?

So I came up with a daft analogy of English footballers who retire from representing their country. While it seems they are extending their careers, perhaps the ensuing lack of profile and exposure impact negatively on their earning potential.. rather like making a statement of not writing for free.

International footballers are unpaid. They're not guaranteed to make the team, they have to put up with other club players they kick during Premiership matches and they may get injured, directly impacting on their exposure that coming weekend. Retiring early seems like a sensible option.

In the so-called good old days of Corinthian attitudes, the only thing that mattered for footballers was wearing the badge of England. They made a decent living, but nothing like today's extraordinary salaries. Nobody dreamt of retiring, the English public would have pilloried them... literally.

Writers and journalists were the same. A job on a newspaper paid the bills and writers existed on advances. The currency for them was reputation. If they were respected, revered and even famous, that was enough; they would only become rich if they were transferred to a better publication or, as in the case of writers, they won awards.

But man cannot live on reputation alone and the world is now round. Footballers earn fortunes, they have the best healthcare money can buy, they eat as athletes should and they want to play for as long as they can. All that international malarkey is a distraction, not a distinction, so they give it up.

They also have endorsement contracts and agents who ramp up their income by any number of commercial opportunities; other revenue streams that enhance their earning potential. That's why so many of them retire after the World Cup or the 'Euros'. It is another four years before they're so prolific across all media, why go to all the bother of qualifying matches? No decent returns.

But they are wrong. Every international football match brings exposure. Every newspaper in the world will report on them and print pictures. Out of every acorn a big, hulking oak tree may grow and an unexpected contract may be offered, especially now that football is a squad game and players don't play every game. They have to keep on playing, rather like a musician who has to continually tour.

So it is with writers. Commissioned rates are now so poor that in the future there will probably only be a hundred or so who make decent livings out of their craft. Some would blame bloggers and amateurs for creating this situation.

Nonsense. Writers have to roll with the times and they should refuse to be pessimistic. My portfolio career consists of different 'verticals' mean that I have to play the equivalent of as many international matches as I can. If I want to maximise my revenue streams I have to be visible at all times and this need to create content, create content, create content is just the way it is.

I write regularly for The Telegraph, TechCrunch, The Indian Express and umpteen trade publications. Some are paid, others are not. I've written for all the UK broadsheets and when I see something that tickles my quill I go and do it because I'm financially independent, I don't even need to grovel to PRs and their fancy press-trips.

I have sidelines of consultancy on content and companies' strategies, I market all my writing extensively through my social channels and I ensure that sponsorship of my blog represents the value of the effort I put behind it. These are MY endorsement contracts.

I'm not even a blogger because that sounds too much like begging. I think I'm a modern writer and it's a lot more fun than sitting in Fleet Street or wanting for a letter to arrive on my doormat with an advance. I'm not going to retire until I die or lose my faculties, and nor should international footballers.