$1 Per Word for Writers

Want to earn $1 per word, or more, as a freelance writer?

I’ve listed fifteen magazines that pay that rate below.

However, before you rush in and start pitching, now is a good time to cover some basics.

There are easy-to-avoid mistakes new writers make that make it very difficult to get your pitch accepted for publication by one of these magazines.

Also – while I’ve listed several publications here, many of the best magazines don’t have submission guidelines pages, and don’t list their rates directly. I encourage you to find magazines with large distribution that cover topics directly related to your interests. Don’t limit yourself to just the research we do.

Before you submit a pitch to a magazine, the first thing to do is carefully study the magazine. The editors spend all day, every day, thinking about the topics you’re going to be pitching, so it is important to have a solid grasp of the types of writing they publish, the topics they’re interested in, and what they tend to publish.

As you get to know a magazine, you’ll see that usually have regular sections, usually called “departments.” These tend to be shorter articles that cover the same topics each issue. Departments are often a good way to break-in to a magazine.

Magazines also have “features”, which are long article that often are featured on the cover. These tend to have the best pay, and require the most work.

When submitting your pitch, it’s important to make it clear exactly where you intend the article to go in the magazine.

There are no hard and fast rules for sending out a winning pitch. However, they do tend to be short and to the point. Editors are busy. Your pitch should win them over with the first sentence – and continue to win their interest throughout the pitch.

Two or three paragraphs is often all you need.

An editor wants to know two things when reading a pitch:

1. Will the article be a good fit for the publication?

2. Is the author the right person to write the proposed article?

The answers to these questions should be immediately clear to the editor. As you get comfortable writing pitches, this will get easier. Often, what separates a beginner from a successful freelancer is their ability to write a high quality pitch. The best way to get better at writing pitches is to spend the time writing them – and sending them out.

However, here are some things to avoid:

  • Don’t focus on yourself. Your experience and qualifications are only important as proof that you’re the right person to write the article. Don’t lead with your experience. Keep the entire pitch focused on your idea, and refer to your experience in terms of how it supports your idea. Link to your portfolio, or relevant experience, in the footer of your email, or at the end of the pitch.
  • Don’t waste the editors time. This means staying hyper-focused on what the editor is interested in. Usually, this means starting immediately with the story idea – and quickly communicating only necessary information to give a clear sense of what you’re proposing, and why you’re the right person for the job.
  • Don’t ask for article ideas. Your job is to propose ideas. The editor’s job is to accept or reject them. Beginning writers often make the mistake of sending a general letter of interest, saying “I’d like to write for you.” This doesn’t cut it for magazines that pay well.

–– Jacob Jans

  1. National Geographic Kids is a general interest nonfiction magazine for 6 to 14 year-olds. It is published 10 times per year. Their stories cover a wide range of topics including “natural history, science, geography, history, and human interest.” They do not accept unsolicited manuscripts. They prefer short and to the point queries of about 250 words. One payment reports suggest that they pay over $1 per word. To find out more, refer to their submission guidelines.
  2. Science Magazine covers news on science, science policy and issues that are of importance to the scientific community. They want “everything from 140-word news briefs to 2500-word features to investigative projects.” According to payment reports, they pay up to $1 per word, and sometimes more. To learn more, refer to this page.
  3. Outside Magazine is a monthly publication that covers “the people, sports and activities, politics, art, literature, and hardware of the outdoors.” According to our research they pay between 25 cents and $1 per word for the writing they publish. To learn more, read their contributors’ guidelines.
  4. Southwest: The Magazine is the official inflight magazine of Southwest Airlines. They usually publish two works of narrative nonfiction (3,000 to 3,500 words) each issue. They also assign special advertising sections. For features, their rate is typically $1.00 per word. For details, read their writer’s guidelines.
  5. Atlanta Magazine is a general interest publication based in Atlanta, Georgia. They cover news, culture, food, travel, entertainment, style, and all things Atlanta. They are interested in stories focused on Atlanta and the metro region. According to payment reports, they pay up to $1.00 per word. To submit a pitch, visit this page.
  6. Experience Life is a progressive “healthy-way-of-life magazine.” It comes out 10 times a year and has a circulation of 700,000. They aim their content at 30 to 45 year-olds. Payment reports suggest that they pay $1.00 per word. Further information can be found on their writer’s guidelines page.
  7. The Intercept is a nonprofit news organization that is devoted to holding the powerful accountable through its fearless, adversarial journalism. According to payment reports, they pay up to $1.00 per word. To contact them, refer to this page.
  8. American Way is a free, inflight magazine of American Airlines. They publish on a monthly basis. According to one payment report, they paid $1.00 per word. To contact them, refer to this page.
  9. Plate Magazine explores the culinary world to meet the most innovative chefs of the industry and uncover interesting food and drink ideas. Each issue of the magazine focuses on a singular culinary theme. According to payment reports, they pay $1.00 per word. To learn more, visit this page.
  10. Chicago Magazine is a print and online publication that focuses on the culture, lifestyles and politics of Chicago. They want writers to send a brief pitch of 1 to 3 paragraphs stressing why their idea is unique and compelling for their readers. They do not publish stories which lack a Chicago angle. Payment reports suggest that they pay up to $1.00 per word. To learn more, visit this page.
  11. Today’s Parent is “Canada’s #1 source for parenting content that informs, inspires and builds a sense of community.” Their articles help parents of children from birth to 9+ tackle a range of parenting issues including discipline, health, behavior and education. Payment reports suggest that they pay up to $1.00 per word. To find out more, visit this page.
  12. Washingtonian is a general-interest magazine for the DC area. They cover politics, technology, art, entertainment, dining, shopping, health, parenting, and personalities. They publish profiles, true-crime yarns, pieces of narrative journalism, trend pieces, column-length arguments, comprehensive lists, and photo essays. According to payment reports, they pay about $1.00 per word. To learn more, refer to their writers’ guidelines.
  13. The Sierra is the magazine of the Sierra club, the non-profit environmental activist organization. Their readers are “are environmentally concerned, politically diverse, and actively enjoy the outdoors.” They pay up to $1.50 a word for feature articles. To learn more, read their submission guidelines.
  14. Cowboys & Indians is an international magazine that is a source for Western art, photography, music, travel, history, food, ranch life, and more. According to one payment report, they paid $1.25 for a 600-word profile or interview. To contact them, refer to this page.
  15. Midwest Living is a regional magazine covering the 12 states of the Midwest U.S. They have a circulation of 925,000, and reports indicate they pay $1.25 a word. To learn more, read this interview with their editor, and their submission guidelines.


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