As a freelance writer, it can be a struggle to find high-quality paying work.
It often seems like the only options available are $5-per-article scams and work from content mills, which can seem like good opportunities — until you check your bank account balance and realize it’ll take ages before your hard work adds up into real earnings.
While finding quality paying work is difficult, it isn’t impossible. In fact, there are lots of publications that will pay you a premium to write for them.
It isn’t necessarily easy to get into these publications, and it may take time and experience to build up your writing to a level that will help you get paid these rates. But you can take solace in the fact that writing work exists beyond content mills and low paying gigs.
While there are probably tens of thousands of magazines that pay writers, a much smaller number compensate writers really well.
Here are 17 magazines that will pay $500 or more for an article.
History buffs, take heed. This print mag focusing on early American style, decorating, and traditions publishes seven times yearly and welcomes the fresh voices of new writers.
You can submit both shorter stories and features, which run about 2,500 words. The editors estimate a $500 payment for “a first feature from a new writer,” with the opportunity for higher earnings as your skills develop.
Earth Island Journal wants “compelling and distinctive stories that anticipate environmental concerns before they become pressing problems.” It covers a wide variety of environmental issues including wildlife and land conservation, environmental public policy, climate and energy, animal rights, and environmental justice.
If you’re an international traveler, it’s a great opportunity: Earth Island is especially hungry for “On-the-ground reports from outside North America.” The magazine pays 25 cents per word for its print stories, which equates to about $750 to $1,000 for in-depth features (about 4,000 words).
You can also pitch a shorter online report, especially if you’re a newer writer. While they only pay $100 apiece, the journal publishes five days per week and is “always looking for fresh ideas.”
VQR is a journal of literature and discussion with a focus on publishing the best writing they can find, from award-winning authors to emerging writers.
For poetry, it pays $200 per poem (up to four). If they accept a group of five or more poems, you’ll earn $1,000. Prose pays around 25 cents per word, and an accepted short story receives $1,000 or more. Book reviews earn $500 for 2,000-2,400 words. VQR has limited reading periods, so check the schedule online before you submit.
AMC Outdoors magazine covers outdoor recreation, education, and conservation topics throughout the Northern Appalachian region, which includes states from Maine to Virginia.
It pays about $750 for features, which usually range from 2,000 to 2,500 words. “We are always on the lookout for stories that have a unique hook, showcase an outdoor sport in a new and exciting way, offer a tangible sense of place and meaning, or profile individuals with unique approaches to conservation in the Northeast and Mid-Atlantic,” senior editor Marc Chalufour notes on AMC Outdoor’s submissions page.
You can also pitch a shorter story for one of its departments, which pay $150 to $350 based on the length and complexity of the work.
The Sun Magazine is looking for essays, interviews, fiction and poetry. They prefer personal writing but they also accept pieces about political and cultural issues.
The Sun pays $300 to $2,000 for fiction, essays and interviews, and $100 to $250 for poetry. If your work is accepted, you’ll also get a complimentary one-year subscription.
6. Boys’ Life
This general-interest monthly magazine has been published by the Boy Scouts of America since 1911. It pays its writers between $500 to $1,500 for nonfiction articles up to 1,500 words. Writing for one of its departments is also an option, where you’d make $100 to $600 for a 600-word article.
As far as what to write about, there aren’t too many limits. “We cover everything from professional sports to American history to how to pack a canoe,” read the submission guidelines. Most of all, it should be entertaining to the scouts it’s aimed at.
“Write for a boy you know who is 12,” the editors suggest.
The American Gardener is the official publication of the American Horticultural Society, and it caters to “experienced amateur gardeners.”
It seeks writers for horticulturalist profiles, and articles about innovative approaches to garden design, plant conservation, horticultural therapy, and biodiversity, among others.
It pays $300 to $600 for feature articles, which usually run 1,500 to 2,500 words. The magazine sometimes offers travel and expense reimbursement.
8. One Story
One Story is a literary magazine that features one story per issue, and it is mailed to subscribers every 3 to 4 weeks.
One Story looks for literary fiction in the range of 3,000 to 8,000 words, and stories can be on any subject “as long as they are good.” It offers $500 and 25 copies of the magazine for every accepted contribution, but submissions are only accepted between September and May.
Quarterly magazine The American Scholar publishes everything from essays to fiction to poetry on public affairs, literature, science, history, and culture.
It will pay up to $500 for accepted pieces of no more than 6,000 words, and if you want to go the digital route, it will pay up to $250 for web-only pieces. Note, however, that The American Scholar does not accept pitches through email — only through online submissions manager system Submittable.
Want to write a 3,000- to 6,000-word long-form article for Longreads? Before you think “yes,” know this: These stories can involve multiple reporting trips, sources, and in-depth research. And while they don’t necessarily need to deal with current events, “they should have an excellent sense of story and purpose and be able to hold a reader’s attention with a compelling premise.”
Base payment begins at $1,500, and they’ll even work with you to pay you a solid fee and also cover expenses.
You know it. You’ve read it. And now, you can write for it. As the world’s leading brand in consumer travel, National Geographic Travel focuses on, “sustainable travel, nationals parks and wild places, UNESCO World Heritage sites, family travel, and stories that reveal the authentic qualities of places.” No hotel or product reviews here, folks.
Nat Geo Travel pays, but their website doesn’t confirm how much. But according to Who Pays Writers, they offer 50 cents per word for 1,000-word features.
Based in NYC, NationSwell is looking for freelance writers to tell impactful meaningful solutions narrative and feature stories between 800 to 1500 words about people or organizations solving for America’s issues — like “the woman who took on gun violence by confronting gangs and her local mayor in street rallies, or the group that helps families of murder victims fight back against a system that unfairly punishes them.”
Pay is 50 to 65 cents per word depending on experience and subject matter, and you can submit your pitch here.
ABM is the monthly in-flight magazine for Alaska Airlines, and it’s looking for writing with vivid visual images, anecdotes and a strong narrative flow. If you can write with a sense of humor, cover business with insight and style, and lend inside perspective to the destination and travel columns, you’re good as gold.
Rates begin at $150 to $250 for short articles in the Journal section (200 to 600 words); $150 for business shorts (500 words); $500 for columns (1,600 words); and $700 for features (2,000 to 2,500 words). They’re not interested in fiction, poetry or book reviews at this time.
EatingWell covers nutrition with a newsy, science-based approach, and its readers “are interested not only in cooking and nutrition science, but also in the origins of food and social issues related to food networks.” Increase your chance of scoring an assignment with us by doing two things: Develop your pitch following the format for past columns, and explain why the proposed topic should be covered in a specific issue.
Items generally range from 150 to 400 words, a one-page story could be 500 words max. The pay rate is up to $1 per word.
Curbed’s focus is home: architecture, design, real estate, and urban planning. It’s seeking pitches for long-form and narrative stories from freelance writers, and these pitches should dig deep on their preferred topics, whether they are analyses of popular trends, reported pieces, personal essays, or a combination of all of the above.
The submission guidelines confirm (but don’t specify) competitive rates for features between 3,000 and 6,000 words — Who Pays Writers reports 20 and 54 cents per word payments, which means, at the very least, you stand to make $600.
16. JSTOR Daily
JSTOR Daily is excited by stories that tease out the details or that look at the obvious in a non-obvious way; “subjects that are newsworthy, entertaining, quirky, surprising, and enlightening are right up our alley.” For publication in summer and fall 2020, they’re interested in a reading list or annotated bibliography about structural racism, or work that highlights scholarship by BIPOC.
Feature stories typically range from 1,800 to 2,000 words. The submission guidelines confirm (but don’t specify) that contributors are paid, so Who Pays Writers reports the average pay is 31 cents per word.
Ever heard of Sierra? It’s the United States’ oldest, largest, and most influential grassroots environmental group. It welcomes ideas from writing pros who can “write smart, fun, incisive, and well-researched stories for a diverse and politically informed national readership.” When you pitch, make sure it reflects an understanding of the Sierra Club’s motto — “Explore, enjoy, and protect the planet” — as well as knowledge of recent issues and topics.
Feature articles range from 2,000 words to (rarely) 4,000 words or more with payment starting at $1 per word, rising to $1.50 word for more well-known writers with “crackerjack credentials.” In some cases, expenses will be paid.
You can also write for one of their departments, which they say is open to freelancers. Articles are 250 to 1,000 words in length; payment is $250 to $1,000 unless otherwise noted.
The original version of this story was written by Bamidele Onibalusi. We updated the post so it’s more useful for our readers.
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