I tell my students not to write for free. Student run pubs and web sites are the exception. You need clips to get started.
In a belated response to a question from one of them, I offered a few tips on how to get at least a little money for your writing. I thought they were worth a new post, so here goes. More to come. Also, I link to American Society of Journalist and Authors above. Most new writers don't qualify for membership but the site can still be helpful.
1) Think locally. Look for a websites and publications in your community. Come up with some great story ideas, find out who to pitch them to and send that person an email. Explain why your story will be better than "user generated content." Make sure you read the pub first so you know what they are looking for and that they haven’t already run a story on your idea. If they are interested, ask how much they pay. If they say they don’t pay, say “no thanks” and move on unless you need a clip. Expect rejection and get over it quickly. And, don't expect much money at first.
2) Go for the front of the book. All I ever hear from magazine editors is that the way to break in is to pitch stuff for the “front of the book.” That bit of publishing jargon means the sections of short bits that appear before page 2072, where they run the longer features.
Next -- Finding great story ideas.