“It’s a real hustle, you sure you want to quit your job at Harvard?”
That’s the response I usually got from family and friends when I talked about leaving my day job to become a full-time freelancer. So I put it off.
But after thee years as a smoking cessation counselor and researcher at Harvard Medical Center, I knew I needed to leave academia. The work was boring. The people were toxic. The egos were huge. And it never seemed like any of my patients ever quit smoking.
Ever wonder if you can make it as a full-time freelancer, find your niche, and get paid to write?
I did. So I started freelancing on the side. Within a year I took the leap and quit my day job. I’ve been freelancing full time for seven months, and I can’t imagine going back to a J-O-B.
Trying to find your niche? Some writers seem to have that dialed in from day one. It took me a little longer to figure out where to find good-paying clients. But what I’ve been able to accomplish as an LGBTQ writer in a short amount of time is proof that you can be a successful freelance writer in just about any niche.
Here’s the basics about how I found my niche, along with 18 websites that pay writers $50 or more per article for LGBTQ content.
Expand your niche to find more clients
When I got started, I thought I might be able to write exclusively about being a bisexual man, and the experiences of biphobia I’ve encountered from both straight women and gay men. Alas, while various editors loved the pieces, it was not something I could write 20 pieces about a month. This approach was a little too narrow, so I expanded my niche and started getting more work and making more money.
Now I write about gay sex. I found that many LGBTQ sites have a need for honest and personal pieces about sex and are willing to pay pro rates. Since I’ve found my niche, I’ve had no problem finding work consistently. I write about sex, sexuality, gender, dating, relationships, and queer culture.
If you’re interested in writing in the LGBTQ niche, you need to understand the market and the target audience, just like any other niche.
Most of the LGBTQ sites I write for want identity pieces that discuss the untold stories of what it’s like to be gay, bisexual, pansexual, transgender, genderqueer, sexually fluid, polyamorous, etc. They’re looking to share the stories of queer men/women/genderqueer folks, and want pieces that discuss how queer life is influenced by the modern political and cultural climate.
18 LGBTQ websites that pay $50+
If you want to write about the LGBTQ community, issues, lifestyle, and people, you can make make a living writing in this niche. Check out these websites that pay writers $50 or more per article:
1. Gay Pop Buzz pays $50 for personal identity pieces in It Really Happened. These pieces focus on real, embarrassing things that happened to you (as a gay/bisexual man). Contact: John Hollywood, firstname.lastname@example.org
4. Vice pay rate varies, starting at $200 per article. (Make sure to keep your piece under 1,200 words). Vice has a new(ish) LGBTQ editor who’s actively looking for LGBTQ identity pieces. Contact Tyler Trykowski, email@example.com.
6. PRIDE is a sister site to The Advocate that serves LGBTQ millennials. Pay $0-50 an article as well. Pitch fun list articles about sex, dating, and queer life, and personal identity pieces. Contact editor-in-chief Levi Chambers, firstname.lastname@example.org, or deputy editor Tracy Gilchrist, email@example.com.
8. Bustle pays $50-75 an article (depending on length) and features queer, personal identity pieces as well as queer lists. Submit completed articles for consideration instead of pitching. Contact features editor Rachel Krantz with submissions, Rachel@bustle.com.
9. YourTango pays $50 an article for a variety of queer pieces about love, sex, and dating. (I’m currently writing a piece for them about why I love dating couples.) Contact Andrea Zimmerman directly with pitches, firstname.lastname@example.org.
10. Cosmopolitan pays $250-300 for personal identity pieces. They’re no longer “Old Cosmo” and don’t want pieces about how to please your man. They now want personal pieces about how you tried something out of the box, were scared to try it, but it paid off in the end by enhancing your relationship. Query sex and relationships senior editor Alex Drucker, ADrucker@hearst.com.
12. New York Times Modern Love reportedly pays up to $300 an article. Submissions should be complete between 1,500 and 1,700 words. The editor is Daniel Jones, and he will reply if interested or not within two months. Like it or not, it’s best to use the generic modern love submissions email at email@example.com.
13. Salon pays $100-200 an article and publishes some queer female pieces.
14. Mic has two paying sections that actively publish pieces about queer folks: Identities and Connections. They don’t want strictly personal identity pieces, but rather want pieces rooted in a larger cultural context with (many) quotes from people you’ve interviewed. Pay rate differs depending on the piece, so be prepared to negotiate. Average is around $100. Email editor EJ Dickson at firstname.lastname@example.org with pitches and submissions.
15. Upworthy pays $150-200 for short 500-word posts about LGBTQ topics. Use the form to submit your pitch.
16. The Daily Dot reportedly pays $50 an article but asks you to submit to email@example.com, which is a blackhole. I’ve pitched a number of times and haven’t received a response. That said, Austin Powell is the managing editor, so if you can find his email, reach out to him directly.
17. Everyday Feminism pays $75 an article, but they’re not always accepting unsolicited submissions. They want critical feminist, social justice-type pieces.
18. Bitch Magazine Website looks for commentaries on pop culture, which can include queer commentaries, as well as personal identity pieces about being queer. Pay is variable, so negotiate for the pay you want.
BONUS: Huffington Post Queer Voices. Ok, so you’re not going to get paid writing for the Huffington Post. But it gets a lot of traffic and can help boost your portfolio as an LGBTQ writer. Contact editor-in-chief Noah Michelson, at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Know any websites that pay for LGBTQ content? Let us know in the comments below.
Zachary Zane writes about sexuality, gender, and relationships. His work can be seen at zacharyzane.com