Tuesday, 29 November 2011

When is it OK to work for nothing?

A recent article in the online Yoga Journal highlighted opposing on this. Kundalini yoga says money is a form of energy and must be exchanged: ‘Students and teachers aren’t required to renounce the material world and become monks in order to learn or teach.’ In contrast, more ascetic yogis believe that teaching is blessed service: ‘An exchange of money would sully the priceless teachings by introducing a profit motive.’

I run two classes at the same venue. Once is oversubscribed, while the other limps along. Between them I can cover both room hire fees, my petrol and my time. However, sometimes there are only two or three people at the ‘quiet’ class, which means that technically I’m running at a loss. But, if I didn’t hold that class those who do attend would miss out. How far can I take altruism?

Similarly with writing. I write for a couple of publications for no payment, partly because I enjoy it (and, shamefully for a yoga teacher, I like what it does for my ego) and partly because it is getting my name out there, so it’s as though it comes out of my marketing budget, were I to have such a thing.

"No man but a blockhead ever wrote, except for money." Samuel Johnson

But if I’m going to write for nothing would I be better spending my time on competitions, where there is at least some chance of financial reward? With more and more magazines expecting copy for nothing, what’s the answer?