Many authors earn additional income from paid freelance writing, which has the added benefit of getting additional exposure for the author with the publication’s readers. Getting paid to write for publications is a whole different ball game from writing free articles and distributing them to print and online publications purely for exposure. In order to get paid for your articles, you have to build on your experience and get the attention of editors. Print publications have pay ranges from $0.25 per word up to $2.00 or more per word, depending on the distribution size of the publication. The top glossy magazines pay much higher rates than local newspapers and hometown magazines.
Here are some tips to help you get started being paid to write!
It’s not easy to break in to the large magazines that you see at the checkout stands in your grocery store. Most contributors for premium publications have many years of professional freelancing experience. However, you can work your way up to major publications if that is your goal, or you can choose to stick with writing for small and mid-size publications.
Publishing articles in local newspapers, trade newsletters, and magazines can be excellent places to start. Many publications will print your article along with your bio and website link. Consumer magazines can also be a source for your articles, although the popular magazines that you find on the checkout stands of grocery stores are the most difficult to break in to. It’s best to start with smaller or regional publications.
To get started, visit your local bookstore to find smaller magazines or conduct searches on Google. You can also search sites like www.newspapers.com, or http://newsdirectory.com. Locate contact information for the editor in the publication masthead or website. Many websites offer writer’s guidelines where the editor will indicate whether she/he accepts submissions via email and what kinds of articles the publication accepts. The most important item to note here is that you are submitting an article for reprint—something you’ve published elsewhere (like on your blog). The larger publications rarely accept reprints and in the journalism world, this is an important distinction.
In most cases you won’t even know the article was printed because you’ve already granted permission and editors are too busy to follow up. You will only know the article ran if you happen to see it yourself or hear from a reader—or notice a nice spike in book sales!
Incidentally, submitting articles to these publications can also lead to article assignments. Many times after submitting articles, I have been contacted by the editor and assigned a story. And if you’re assigned to write a story, you get paid. You won’t retire off of the funds you earn from writing for smaller publications, but consider it a bonus to get paid to promote yourself!
Use the following format to submit your articles via email. Be sure to simply paste the article content into the body of the email since editors may not be willing to open attachments.
Résumés That Rock
By Edna Entrepreneur
Word count: 975
<insert article body>
<insert author bio>
*This article may be reprinted provided the author bio is included. Thank you very much for your consideration.
<insert contact information>
I recommend write for smaller publications by contributing article reprints or providing first rights. Once you have a few of those under your belt, you will officially have “clips,” which is an industry term for samples of your work. Bigger publications will want to see these.
Write a Query
When it comes to writing for larger publications, the standard cost of admission is a query letter to the editor. A good query opens with a proposed story idea. That means you need to pitch something relevant for the publication’s audience. It should briefly explain the angle you will take with the story, followed by why you are the best person to write the story. Here’s a brief example of a pitch to a wedding industry business magazine:
Dear <editor name>,
Pinterest has quickly become the third largest social media site and I would like to write an article for <publication name> called “Pinterest Profits! How Wedding Professionals Can Turn Pins into Dollars.” This article will explore how wedding professionals are leveraging Pinterest to increase website traffic and gain more customers. I will interview three sources who I have already identified and write a 1,200-word article with concrete tips and solutions for your readers.
I am an author of <book title> and I have written articles for <list publications here or leave this line out if no experience just yet>. You can view some of my previous work here: <links to your articles from smaller industry publications>. I appreciate your consideration and would welcome the opportunity to work with you.
A query should be brief, compelling (great title), timely (related to a hot trend or tied in with an upcoming event or holiday), and should clearly appeal to the publication’s target audience. To locate editors, look for an email address in the masthead or via the publication’s website. Another great source for locating editorial contacts is Writer’s Market, a paid directory: http://writersmarket.com.
Remember that it takes time, patience, and sometimes just good luck having the experience or topic relevant to a hot item in the news, to get paid for what you write, but it can pay off if you continue to research your target audience and write material that is relevant to them.
If you like this blog post, you’ll love our Author Profits Course! Learn more about our courses for authors here.