22 Publications that Pay for First-Person Essays and Narratives

Dear Writers,

Here are twenty two publications that pay for first-person essays and/or narratives from freelance writers. We’ve researched payment rates and found the submission guidelines or contact information for all of these publications.

That being said, please do not contact them without carefully studying their publication, to make sure that your idea is a good fit. If you’re unsure of the pitching process, then please read this.

If you want an inside-scoop on how to write a personal essay that gets published, then read this right away.

— Jacob Jans

Public Discourse is the online journal of the Witherspoon Institute (a research center in Princeton, New Jersey). They pay an honorarium of $200 for original essays (1,500 to 2,000 words), first-person stories (800 to 2,000 words), and review/response essays (1,500 to 2,000 words). They pay $50 for book notes (300 to 500 words). For details, visit this page.

Sasee is a women’s lifestyle magazine. They are interested in 500-1,000 word non-fiction submissions for and about women: essays, humor, satire and first-person experiences. Previous writers have reported payment from $100 to $200 per essay. Details here.

Vox is seeking personal narratives for their “First Person” section. They are seeking “provocative personal narratives that explain the most important topics in modern life. ” Reports indicate they pay around $500 per essay. To learn more, read their submission guidelines.

The War Horse is a nonprofit newsroom that educates people on war and national security. They publish “stories that are engaging and insightful to veterans and civilians.” They pay a flat rate of $300 for first-person reflections of 800 to 1,300 words. To learn more, refer to this page.

CBC News is a source for news from Canada and around the world. They are accepting pitches for first person columns from both new and experienced writers. They are particularly seeking “personal stories that reflect contemporary Canada, encompassing experiences from outside major urban centres, from people with disabilities, from Black, Indigenous and other people of colour, and from diverse economic-social perspectives.” According to their first person columns producer, they pay $422.50 for a 650-word column. For details, read their first person FAQs.

The Doe is a digital publication that shares anonymous, verified personal narratives to promote civil discourse. They are accepting pitches for stories from voices across the spectrum, including first-time writers. They publish anonymous, first-person narrative pieces and personal, verified non-fiction pieces full of vivid anecdotes. They want writers to keep their drafts to 800-1,400 words. According to their Twitter post, they pay around $300 for a narrative. To learn more, visit this page.

PublicSource is a news organization serving Pittsburgh and the region. They welcome story pitches from journalists and community members. They pay $300 for first-person essays (800 to 1,200 words); $300 for event coverage (600 to 1,000 words); $400 for resource guides/explainers; $600 for enterprise stories; and $1,000 for investigative stories. They usually pay a 25% kill fee. Learn more here and here.

Pellicle is a primarily UK-based consumer drinks publication that focuses on beer, wine, and cider and the majority of stories they aim to publish focus on these topics. They are mostly interested in these types of stories: narrative-style profiles, first-person experiences or travelogues, investigative reporting on challenging topics, and thought provoking Q&A’s. For features, they pay £0.23p/word up to £575 and for Q&A’s, they pay £300. For more information, read their pitching guide.

CIC News is a Canadian immigration news website. They are interested in stories that help them understand “how policy changes affect newcomers.” They also “appreciate any article that helps immigrants settle in Canada, find a job, start a business, or otherwise adjust to their new lives.” They prefer stories of 600 to 1,400 words. The types of articles that they publish include first person stories, analysis, opinion, features, and news. They accept submissions in English or French and pay up to $1 per word. For more information, refer to this page.

CBC Saskatchewan is a source for news stories, breaking news, and viewpoints from Saskatchewan. They are looking for opinion and first person pieces (500 to 700 words) from the people of Saskatchewan. They pay $250 per piece. If interested, send your pitches to sask-opinion-grp@cbc.ca. For details, refer to their pitch guide.

Chron is the website of the Houston Chronicle (the largest daily newspaper in Houston). They are seeking feature pitches as they increase their culture and lifestyle reporting. They are looking for profiles, first-person essays, cultural commentaries, listicles, trend coverage, and more. Their rates start at $0.50 per word. For more information, refer to their guidelines.

4W is “a publication for the next generation of feminist writing.” They are always looking to expand their base of contributors. They only accept female writers. They want “original reporting on the issues affecting women and girls around the globe”, “feminist analysis of the local, national, or global news affecting women and girls”, “well-researched and cited 101-level pieces exploring a particular feminist topic with accessible language”, “first-person essays and personal stories”, and “interviews or profiles of feminists and female thought-leaders.” Their articles are typically 1,000 to 2,000 words. Their rate is $0.05 per word. To learn more, refer to this page.

Broadview is a Canadian print magazine and website about spirituality, justice, and ethical living. The print magazine is published 10 times a year and the website showcases new content daily. They serve a niche audience of progressive Christians and those who share similar core values. They are looking for stories about “spirituality, ethical living, social justice, and the United Church.” They can be “investigative features, engaging profiles, first-person narratives, reported news stories, essays, photo essays, opinion pieces, blogs, interviews or reviews of books or film.” Rate: $0.65 per word for reported pieces and $0.40 per word for Q&As, blogs, and personal essays. To learn more, read their submission guidelines.

Chalkbeat is a nonprofit news organization that reports on education in poor communities across America. They elevate the “voices of educators, students, parents, advocates, and others on the front lines of trying to improve public education.” They are looking for personal essays (around 800 words) centered around a personal experience or observation. They publish these essays in a series called First Person. According to their story editor, they pay $100 per personal essay. If interested, send your pitches or drafts to firstperson@chalkbeat.org. For more information, read their first person guidelines.

gal-dem is a British online and print magazine that is dedicated to sharing the stories of women and non-binary people of color. They have 5 sections to pitch within: “first person, music, life, culture, and politics.” According to payment reports, they pay up to £95 per piece. To learn more, read their pitching guide.

Arkansas Soul is a digital media publication that publishes content for BIPOC by BIPOC in Arkansas. They accept pitches from writers. “Topics can include politics, arts, music, culture, history, fashion, business, news, personal essay, and interviews – all centered on the Black or minority experience in Arkansas.” Pay is $150 to $300 for Reimagine Arkansas stories and content (500 to 2,000 words), $100 to $250 for personal essays, first-person accounts, and op-eds (750 to 2,000 words), $150 to $250 for reported news stories (500 to 1,000 words), $150 to $250 for feature stories (1,000 to 2,000 words), and $150 to $250 for profiles and interviews (flexible word count). To learn more, refer to their submission guidelines.

Orato World Media is a non-profit digital publication that publishes true stories from real people. They welcome non-fiction, first-person story ideas. They publish 5 long-read (at least 2,000 words) stories per month and 3 standard-length (at least 500 words) stories per day. They pay $100 for long-read stories and $25 for standard-length stories. For details, refer to this page.

Chaos+Comrades is “a publication run by minorities who seek to break down identities by fostering unity and understanding through multimedia storytelling.” They are seeking POC or queer doctors/nurses to write a first-person essay about the COVID-19 pandemic. They pay $125 per piece. You can find contact information here. Read their Twitter thread here. Read their pitching guidelines page here.

HuffPost Personal is a personal stories section in HuffPost (a news and opinion website). Their personal stories are “original, authentic, compelling and told in the first person.” They pay for all personal stories that they publish. Payment reports indicate that they pay up to $0.08 per word. To pitch, refer to this page. To learn more, read our interview with the editor.

The Word Among Us is a print and digital Catholic devotional magazine. They are looking for first-person testimony narratives of 1,200 words. They want “stories that focus on a significant experience of conversion, change, or spiritual insight in a simple, anecdotal style.” They pay $150 per story. Details here.

The Christian Century is a Chicago-based Christian magazine that “explores what it means to believe and live out the Christian faith in our time.” They invite readers to contribute first-person narratives (of less than 1,000 words) on the topics of lapse and feet. They pay $100 per essay. For details, visit this page.

LightHouse seeks to publish first person stories and essays by blind and visually impaired writers. They want to hear stories “not merely about blindness, but about what it takes to survive and strive as a human.” Read their submission guidelines.


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