I've had the same conversation more than once with writers.
There appear to be some writers who think they need to start with non-paying markets and work their way up after getting a certain number of credits. That they somehow don't 'deserve' to be paid until they have 'proven themselves'.
Here is what I would say to those people: It costs the same to submit to Asimov's as it does to submit to Non-Paying Ezine #357. Nothing. Why take nothing or little for a story that might be worth 5 cents a word? Because you're afraid of what might happen? Seriously, the worst case scenario is a form rejection. Start at the top and work your way down. You really have nothing to lose and everything to gain.
Also, the 'exposure' Non-Paying Ezine #357 promises you probably isn't worth very much either. Sorry to the ezine editors out there, but most don't get thousands of readers. Many don't even get hundreds of readers.