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Monday, July 19, 2010

You Can Make Money by Writing Articles

Oh sure, authors are known to make upwards of one dollar per word or more for magazine articles. But, don't take out the calculator just yet. There are many ways to  cash in on your writing ability. While it is true you can market and re-market your work to various periodicals, create sales, and make this your new career, for those looking for residual income or perhaps a full time job, this will take hard work.

Why write magazine articles? For the experience. I was published long before I wrote my first book. In fact I was a "regular" in the editorial page at our local newspaper. Once one of my "pieces" was the editorial of the week. When the newspaper employee called asking for a picture to include with my article (and I declined), I knew my words were able to convey feelings and make my point. 

In order to write good articles, you must read and research. What magazine do you want to write for? What type of articles do they publish? Do they publish freelance authors? Knowing how and where to begin, will go a long way to formulating your plan.

Lists always help me. Especially when I take the time to read them! They help me stay in focus and make difficult decisions. There is not only "one" right-way to market your articles. And even if there were, following any plan perfectly is difficult. Understanding what is and what is not acceptable will help you land that article assignment. The goal of becoming a published author is well within your reach.

So here is a list of the do's, don'ts. The insider tips. The real scoop for creating articles that will help jump start your sales!

1. Research very clearly what a magazine wants in terms of articles. Read many issues (not just one) and get a feel for the editorial needs of the publication. Make sure they accept articles from non-staff writers. Note the length of the articles, and the tone of voice. First person or third?
2. Some magazines ask for queries (a pitch of your idea) first, others want the full article. Give them what they want.
3. Think outside the box. How is your article better, different, insightful and or use interviews with quotes to support your information within the body of the text.
4. Write down the date that you submitted your article if you haven't received a confirmation in 6 weeks, send an polite email query as to the status of your work.  
4. An article is not necessarily a one time sale. Some magazines ask for first rights, others allow reprints with the correct notation. Don't waste the time of the editorial staff by shopping an already published piece unless it is significantly different or updated with new information.
6. If you article has not been accepted within at least six months shop it somewhere else.
7. If you are submitting to an editor, make sure it is the correct person. Newspapers? It is better to call the newsroom and ask who takes submissions. Websites sometime include information on how to submit an article.

1. Submit an article that is riddled with typos.
2. Submit an article to more than one publication at once (unless multiple submissions are acceptable).
3. Submit the wrong kind of article that is off in style, tone or topic for a specific publication.
4. Constantly bombard the acquisitions editor with emails asking for confirmation the article was received or whether or not it has been accepted.
5. Use a poor submission service (especially for online services) that take inferior articles.
6. Place poorly concealed ads in order to sell other services and products.
7. Don't rewrite someone elses articles and call it your own. Yes, many people may teach similar concepts but there have been submissions that have smacked of plagiarism.
8. Don't Address your article to the incorrect person, or misspell the editor's name!
9. Don't expect the "big bucks." Sometimes the payment is free magazine copies, or a very small stipend. Chalk it up to experience and something to put on the resume.

Make sure you have a compelling pitch (this is a topic I will write about another time) and the explain your ideas for the possibility of a two or even three part article series. Magazines are looking for quality cohesive pieces and who knows... it could land you a full time job as a feature writer! The best of both worlds is to be a participant on a freelance authors group. Discover these listings on Yahoo by searching under "groups". I'm on a group with a specific periodical I write for on occasion. The editor of the magazine uses this as a way to throw out last minute assignments or requests for a particular magazine piece. Another editor I know has used an email group to ask for a particular "themed" piece for the magazine.  

Two of my recent submissions have been chosen as feature articles. This was unplanned on my part. So how did this happen? My article was timely, exactly what the editor envisioned and while needing editing (yes, for you punctuation gurus I know, my blog posts need work in this area), the editing needed was minimal. The second article was a filler for someone else who had dropped the ball and turned out to be something the editor wanted to highlight in the upcoming edition.

If you know a friend who is an editor, have them read over your work before submission. You want to be known as the writer that needs little editing. Do your homework and do it well. You will be happy with the results in the long run!


  1. Great post, Felice.

    As a former Editor-in-Chief (who published several of YOUR articles, BTW), I can attest to the validity of everything you encourage here. This is why you were one of my favorite authors to publish!

  2. Great post. I wish the magazines I write for paid me in actual cash money (hey, I'd even take a check, I'm easy!), but at least I can count it as experience. Unfortunately, some circles don't value the written word as much as other circles.

  3. This is so SPOT ON! As a magazine publisher of 12 years I know many women want to write. Two keys are knowing the market the magazine is targeting and desiring to come alongside and join in their calling. I always have more to print that we possibly can. God pays very well and it is eternal. :)

  4. Thank, Jim Bob, you are too kind! Your needs were specific and the magazine had a theme, that helps an author tremendously.

  5. I agree, Lorrie the pay isn't always the most important. Truthfully, the experience gained especially for a new author is the best. They can finally say, they are "published." Many times a trade, such as an ad or mention in an email blast goes a long way as well!