Michelle has over two decades of experience as a freelance writer. She is the author of several books on Amazon.
My Freelancing Story
When I began my freelance writing career in the early 1990s, I didn't have access to the Internet, a computer, a cellphone, or a tablet. There was no such thing. Finding freelance writing jobs meant spending countless hours at my local library and buying countless magazines to have access to their contributor guidelines. It wasn't easy, but there was no other way.
When the 2000s came around, I was ecstatic to have so much information at my fingertips and so many websites willing to pay me to write. I thought I'd be rich and famous in no time. Boy, was I wrong! It seemed that the only sites that were willing to pay me to write were sites that paid mere pennies (and sometimes even just one penny) per word. I spent years (an entire decade) looking for legitimate websites that paid me what I thought I was worth.
What I eventually found was that it all goes back to my roots as a freelance writer—magazines. Magazines still pay writers a good fee and oftentimes even a "kill fee" if an accepted article doesn't make it through to publishing. Why in the world it took me 10 years of being a starving writer to realize that what brought me money before is what will bring me money now, I haven't a clue. What's important is that I did realize it, and the best part is that most magazines these days have websites, and there are a ton more online magazines that didn't exist back when I started.
Instead of wasting my time and efforts trying to earn fast money online (there's really no such thing), I now concentrate my writing on magazine publishers that respect writers and want a deserving wage. In fact, genuine effort, hard work, and some time management can earn a freelance writer a fairly good chunk of change. My days of being a starving artist are over because I refused to give up, and I found writing avenues that are genuine and realistic.
You don't need to be a starving artist, either. A little time management and hard work can easily earn you up to $5,000 per month doing what you love to do most—writing.
I have spent 20+ years, both online and offline, building my career as a freelance writer. I have worked full-time jobs, raised children, tended to my husband (I still do that), and babysat my grandchildren (I still do that, too), yet I still managed to find the time I need to write a good article. Sometimes the writing time comes easily. Other times I have to demand the time.
If you are also a person who wears many hats, then you need to learn to manage your time so that writing can be set as a priority instead of an "if-I-don't-have-anything-else-to-do" job. Setting a schedule and sticking to it isn't always, but with some good planning and self-discipline, your dream of earning a living as a freelance writer is more possible than you imagined.
If you're looking to earn a good living—let's say $5,000 in one month's time—you will first need to decide where that income is coming from and how much time you will need to meet your income goal.
Example: I have generated a list of magazines where I would like to submit articles. The list is made up of twenty magazine publishers, along with their submission guidelines and the amount they pay per piece. The total amount, if all my work is accepted and published, is around $5,000 or more.
Twenty articles in 30 days gives me about a day and a half to write each article. Because I wear so many other hats and writing isn't the only thing I can spend my time doing, I allow myself at least two hours per day during the week and three hours each day on the weekends. This totals 16 hours per week or 64 hours per month. This amounts to roughly three hours per piece.
Since most magazine articles are less than 1,500 words, it's not unreasonable to expect an article to be completed within three hours. I allow one hour for research, thirty minutes to create a good outline, one hour to write the article, and thirty minutes for editing and revising. Your three hours might look a little different, but the common goal is three hours per article. If I have extra time during the month that I hadn't otherwise planned, I always use that time to devote to writing. One can't be a writer unless they write—every day (or mostly every day—we all need a break now and then).
To help you get started on your new journey to financial success as a freelance writer, I have compiled a list of twenty magazine publishers that welcome freelance writers. The list could generate a handsome income for those who work hard and can offer a well-written, interesting article to each one of these publishers.
Always, always check each publisher's submission guidelines and take the time to look at their magazine to see what types of articles they publish. The easiest way to do that is a Google search. Type the name of the magazine that you're interested in along with the words "writer guidelines," and you should be provided a link that takes you directly to their submissions page. Once you're there and you've read their submission guidelines, be sure to look around their site, read some past articles, and decide what topic you will write about for them.
Because I am a Christian, I personally love writing for Christian magazines that give me the opportunity to grow as a Christian and help others along the way. Here are just a few magazines that are devoted to God and the love and devotion to Jesus Christ.
- The Quiet Hour—They publish Christian devotionals, and writers are assigned contracts for seven devotionals per quarter. They pay new writers $115 per quarter. Writers have the opportunity to earn more once they become established within the magazine. Each devotional is 145 to 175 words. They accept online Submissions.
- Bible Advocate Magazine—They are one of the oldest religious magazines in America. They were founded in 1863, and they pay freelance writers up to $55 for pieces. They accept e-mail or hard copy submissions.
- Clubhouse Magazine—This magazine tailors articles to 8- to 12-year-old kids who want to know more about God and the bible. Articles should be between 400 to 1,800 words, depending on what category it falls into They accept both fiction and nonfiction, and they pay up to 25 cents per word. They accept snail mail submissions only.
- Guide Magazine—A Christian story magazine for young people ages 10-14. Standard feature-length stories are 1000-1200 words, but they also accept shorter pieces of 450 words and up. They pay 7 to 10 cents per word upon acceptance for first serial rights. They accept online or snail mail submissions.
- Group Magazine—They need articles on "successful youth ministry strategies, including youth-led ministry ideas, understanding kids and youth culture, recruiting/training/keeping adult leaders, family ministry, staff issues, serving and training parents, professionalism, and self-nurture. How-to articles on personal spiritual growth, time management, issues vital to working with young people, leadership skills (listening, discussion-leading), worship ideas, handling specific group problems, fun and experiential programming ideas, and active-learning meeting plans and retreats." They pay up to $250 for up to 2000 words. They accept submissions by e-mail or snail mail.
- Devozine—They help young people (ages 14 to 19) "develop a lifelong practice of prayer and spiritual reflection" and want to help their readers "grow in their faith and discover the relevancy of Christian faith for the issues they face in everyday life." They pay $100 for a 500- to 600-word article. They accept submissions by e-mail, online, or snail mail.
- Creation Illustrated—They are interested in "high-quality photos, articles, and poetry that bring glory to God through the wonders of His creation." There's a variety of categories to choose from, and payments range according to the topic, but you can expect about $100 for 1,000 to 2,000 words. They accept queries or complete manuscripts by e-mail or snail mail.
- Enrichment Journal—They are a quarterly journal for Assemblies of God ministers and other Pentecostal/charismatic leaders. They carry articles and feature material on a wide range of ministry-related topics. The magazine "exists for the purpose of enriching and encouraging Pentecostal ministers to equip and empower Spirit-filled believers for effective ministry." They pay up to 10 cents per word for articles 1,200 to 2,100 words, and How-to features 200 to 500 words. Submissions are by e-mail or snail mail.
- Vision Vocation Network—They want their articles to "provide insight into what it means to be a contemporary Catholic sister, priest, brother, missionary, or monk. The magazine considers all aspects of religious life: prayer, discernment, community life, vows, formation, mission, ministry, and Catholic teachings" They pay $450 upon acceptance for articles of 1,000 to 1,500 words. They do accept reprints and will pay $100. They prefer a query by snail mail or e-mail.
Kids and Parenting Magazines
As a mother and grandmother, I enjoy writing for children of all ages, and there are so many topics to choose from when it comes to kids. Here are a few children and parenting magazines that pay decent fees for good articles.
- Metro Parents—They offer a vast amount of writing opportunities, and they pay anywhere from $35 for their Pipeline section to $350 for a Feature story. They are geared toward Southeast Michigan but accept non-local writers as well. They prefer a Query letter.
- Boy’s Quest—A magazine for boys, they look for “lively writing, most of it from a 10-year-old boy¹s point of view, with the boy or boys directly involved in an activity that is both wholesome and unusual". They pay a minimum of five cents per word. and accept snail mail submissions only.
- Fun For Kidz—This magazine was created for boys and girls from ages 6 to 13, with youngsters 8, 9, and 10 as the specific target age. They look for articles that deal with timeless topics, "such as pets, nature, hobbies, science, games, sports, careers, simple cooking, and anything else likely to interest a child." They accept nonfiction articles that are 350 to 375 words for a one-page article or 700 to 750 words for a two-page magazine article. They pay a minimum of five cents a word for both fiction and nonfiction, with additional payment given if the piece is accompanied by appropriate photos or art. They accept submissions by snail mail only.
- Hopscotch Magazine—They look for lively writing, mostly from a girl’s point of view. They pay five cents per word and accept snail mail submissions only.
Not a Christian or a parent? That's okay. There's plenty of other magazines out there that pertain directly to your interests and/or expertise. Here are few of them:
- The Saturday Evening Post—A well-known magazine, their readers are in the 45+ age group with families. They accept freelance articles on a variety of topics. Their guidelines no longer post payment amounts to writers but I’ve heard they pay up to $400 for feature articles. They accept online submissions.
- AMC Outdoors—This magazine is tailored to outdoor living in the Northeast, They pay $750 for features and $150 to $350 for departments. They prefer a query letter.
- The Glimmer Train—This online magazine was started by two sisters back in 1990, They accept freelance submissions on a variety of topics and pay well for it. Accepted pieces pay $700. They also host four contests per year that offer prizes of $1,500 to $2,500. They accept online submissions.
- TopTenz—The original top 10 site, this online magazine pays $50 for" Top 10" lists on any topic. They accept online submissions.
- Christian Science Monitor—A newspaper that covers international and United States current events. Topics include, but are not limited to, world news, USA news, technology, culture, people making a difference, and more. Each area of contribution pays a different amount, but they can pay upwards of $300 for 1,300 words. They require a query.
- Eating Well—A national food magazine, they focus on eating healthy. They would like articles about latest trends in food and health, eating/diet trends, green eating, health studies/research, nutrition and general news. Articles should be 150 to 400 words, depending on what category an article falls into, and they own all rights to your article. They pay up to $1 per word. This magazine prefers to receive a query (not a completed article) by email.
- Caregiver’s Home Companion—A magazine for family caregivers. They cover articles about long- and short-term disabilities, and they especially focus on children taking care of elderly parents. They prefer submissions to be from current or former caregivers, individuals and healthcare professionals involved with caregiving. Articles should be between 800 to 1,000 words and they pay up to $1 per word. They accept email Submissions.
Now that you have a list of possible magazines to submit articles to, you will need to begin your research on each magazine.
When writing for any magazine, always check out their website. If they have a print edition, be sure to check that out, too (you can read the print editions at your local public library for free). Read the articles and get a sense of what the magazine is about and the types of articles they print.
When checking out the magazines above, a simple Google search with the magazine's name and the words “writer guidelines” should take you directly to the page you need. You can also find the magazine's writer submission guidelines in their print edition.
Not all magazines will require a query letter, but some do. If you’re not sure how to write a query letter that will get you noticed, there is plenty of online help to get you started, and don’t forget about your public library, where all the information is free all the time. The internet is great, but it’s not always easy to find what you’re looking for. As a writer, you should be digging for information from a variety of sources, not just simple Google searches.
Now that you have checked out the magazine's submission guidelines and have read a few articles, it's time to start generating your own article ideas for each chosen publication.
Got an Opinion?
Good. Now keep it to yourself.
Magazine publishers rarely accept opinion pieces. Those types of articles are better saved for your local newspaper’s Op-Ed page. Magazine publishers want well-thought, interesting articles that will leave their readers with more knowledge about a particular subject or solves a problem that readers might be having.
How to Generate Ideas to Write About
Sometimes, it's not easy coming up with fresh ideas to write about. Often times it seems like a topic has been covered over and over again, and beating a dead horse is not going to earn the income you long for. Finding a fresh angle on old ideas can be challenging but not impossible. Here are a few ways to unblock writer's block and find new and exciting slants to already told stories.
Talk isn't always cheap—Some of the best ideas I've ever had came from simple conversations with others. Friends, family, coworkers, and acquaintances are all great sources of ideas. Don’t underestimate the power of a good conversation. Tip: Be sure to have a pen and paper handy at all times so that you can write down any ideas that come to mind before you forget.
Archives—Past articles that you have written (published or unpublished) are a great source of ideas. When I’m stuck for an idea, I always go into my documents and look at the articles that I wrote a while ago (sometimes years ago). Often I find a whole new angle to an already told story.
Newspapers—Your local newspaper can be a great source of new and fresh ideas. The news is always current, and there’s always a different angle to every story. Have you ever read a newspaper article that left you with more questions than answers? Find those answers and write about them. It’s a good bet that if you’re asking those questions, other people are too. Be the one who gives the answer.
Didn't Make the Cut?
Now that you've written and submitted some articles, it's time to play the waiting game and hope, even pray, that some of your articles get accepted. But what if they don't?
Nothing is worse than spending hours researching, writing, and editing an article that ends up in the wastepaper basket in the magazine publisher’s office. Don't fret about it. Maybe they just weren't interested, or maybe they didn't have room in their next publication. Whatever the reason, it doesn't matter. Re-read the article, make a few changes and find another magazine to submit it to.
Many magazine publishers will pay a kill fee for work that wasn't published. In other words, if they accept your article and then decide not to publish it, they will pay you a percentage of the fee they would have paid if the article had made the cut. Usually, this amount is between 10% to 25％. It sort of stinks, but at the same time, you can turn around and submit the article to another publisher. If they accept it and pay you, then you’ll be paid for the same article twice. Not bad for a few hours of work.
Calling All Freelance Writers
Now that you have generated a list of magazines that you want to submit to, it's time to start writing. By now, you should have set a schedule, checked out writer guidelines, and generated some fresh new content ideas.
Your goal: To write and submit enough articles in one month's time that will earn at least $5K if all your work is accepted. It can be done! Challenge yourself, and I promise you won't be disappointed with the results as long as you stick to the plan.
Good luck, and let me know how you're doing!
This article is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge. Content is for informational or entertainment purposes only and does not substitute for personal counsel or professional advice in business, financial, legal, or technical matters.
Ralph John on May 24, 2020:
Are contents accepted from writers out the USA?
SWAPNA MAHATO on March 18, 2020:
I want devotional article writing job,if I found this devotional writing opportunity I will be happy
Aishwarya mahajan on December 08, 2019:
If you can think it you can do it.
Alex J. Rhowuniong on May 16, 2019:
Thank you for a wonderful article!
I've learned any things already.
One thing I'd like to add to the many good points in this article is that many new writers are afraid. And I read somewhere that all freelance writers ought to strive to have as many rejections from editors as possible (in fact, they should be proud of those rejections). Because by getting one "no" out of the way, you become a little bit closer to your "yes" just waiting for you around the "corner."
And I think it helps new writers understand correctly that editors do not reject the writer. Instead, they reject the work for (as said here) various reasons.
For instance, maybe the story pitched is not a really good fit for the readership.
Plus, I think this process develop a "thick skin" too for the new writer.
Just don't lose heart!
email@example.com on July 17, 2018:
will write anything of spiritual stories
Irene Muthoni Njoroge on June 01, 2018:
I have been searching for online writing jobs for quite some time now without a break through so I hope that this has finally landed me where I belong. Thanks for the information.
Sp Greaney from Ireland on February 27, 2018:
I like your strategy. I think it's important to have one when your trying to achieve something. Plus writing for magazines is just another revenue method we sometimes forget about.
Kate Swanson from Sydney on December 25, 2017:
You make a very, very good point. I see so many business people making the same mistake: once the internet arrived, everyone seemed to assume all the old ways of finding customers no longer worked, which is nonsense. It's just the same for writers, and thanks for reminding me of that fact!
Akhilesh Jain from Rajasthan, India on August 19, 2017:
Looking at the figure you have mentioned apart from reading your very well explained article... any thing less than or more that $5K will be good for me ;-) just joking...
Isabella Flowers from Miami, FL on January 19, 2017:
Sounds like a profitable plan, as well as challenging. I am listening and learning.
Stuart from Santa Barbara, CA on October 04, 2016:
Great article, these are all some really great websites that you mentioned. To be honest I haven't heard of most of these websites but I will definitely check them out.