Want to write for magazines?
It’s a great way to make a living writing if you pitch the right publications. How about $500 or more per assignment?
If you’ve been cranking out magazine stories for $50 to $150 a pop, you may be wondering if that’s really even possible. That’s often the going rate for local, regional, or small-circulation magazines.
If you want to write for magazines, and have limited experience, these are great places to get some clips, and earn some money, but it shouldn’t be your last stop.
Many consumer and trade magazines pay $500 or more per assignment. And the pitching process is pretty much the same as smaller pubs:
- Identify a magazine you want to write for
- Study the submission guidelines
- Develop a solid story idea
- Do a little research and interview a source
- Write a killer query letter, and pitch your story idea to an editor
If you can do that, you’ve got the chops to get paid well to write for magazines. But you need to know where to look for those $500-plus assignments. Check out these 21 magazines to get started.
Here’s an interesting fact about the magazine published for readers over age 50. AARP has the highest circulation of any magazine in the United States, with more than 35 million subscribers.
That also means it pays well, on average $1/word or $1,500 per assignment. Publishes news, features, how-tos, and essays about money, health and fitness, food, travel, relationships, and more for over-50 readers.
AARP may be a tough magazine to crack for newbies, but it’s not impossible. Smart networking efforts and a solid story idea helped Freelance Writers Den member Willi Morris land an assignment with AARP, one of her dream clients.
Not all in-flight magazines openly publish writer’s guidelines, but Alaska Beyond is one that does. About 75 percent of this magazine is written by freelancers. Best way to break in: Pitch a short piece for “The Feed” department. Then you’re a lot more likely to land higher paying assignments (up to $700) for travel, news, and feature stories.
Contact: Editor Paul Frichtl
If you want to write for The Atlantic, a magazine that covers news and analysis on politics, business, culture, technology, national, international and political life, read this by former Atlantic staffer Garance Franke-Ruta: “How (not) to pitch: A guide for freelance writers.”
FYI – The Atlantic is also open to working with new freelancers. It’s where Freelance Writers Den member Douglas Fitzpatrick landed his first magazine assignment as a newbie for a piece about the career trajectory of Donald Trump.
Want to write for The Atlantic? Study the magazine and pitch an idea with a query first. Pays $150 to $1,600 depending on assignment.
Contact: See department staff info here
Chatelaine is a popular monthly women’s magazine in Canada that covers health and fitness, finance, social issues, fashion, beauty, food, and home decor. It’s target audience is active women ages 25 to 54.
“The Health section covers the latest news and studies, gives fitness and workout tips and explores hot-button issues,” says Managing Editor Laura Brown. Query with a story idea first. Pays an average of $1/word or $1,500 per assignment.
Contact: Managing Editor Laura Brown
If you’re interested in writing for custom pubs for airlines, pitch the in-flight magazine Delta Sky. Carol Tice happens to be a regular contributor, including a story in the November 2018 issue.
Pitch story ideas about food, sports, lifestyle, business, and travel (including international destinations). The current issue includes stories about destinations around the world like Seoul, Korea, Beijing, China, Grenada, and must-see places across the U.S.
Contact: Editor Sarah Elbert
If you customized your search in Writer’s Market to find magazines that pay the highest rate, this is one that would rise to the top of the list. How about $2/word or $3,000 for a 1,500-word feature story.
This science-based magazines features stories about medical research, scientific breakthroughs, technology, physics, space travel, and even paleontology. Keep in mind it’s written for a lay audience, so academic language won’t get you an assignment.
Want to write for Discover? Here’s some advice from freelancer Susan Etchey: “The only way a new writer has a chance to get the attention of its editors is to have an explosive, compelling untold science story to tell.”
From colonization to life in the mid-1800s, this magazine features stories about history, architecture, antiques, crafts, and travel destinations for people interested in early American life.
In the most recent issue, you’ll learn about rolling pins from the Colonial era, the evolution of the bald eagle as America’s mascot, brewing in the 1700s, and more.
Know how to dig up the bones to pitch a story about early American life? It’s worth the effort. This pub pays an average of $500 to $2,000 per assignment.
Contact: Executive Editor Jenmarie Andrews
If you want to write for Earth Island Journal, follow the first rule of writing for any magazine. Read it. Study back issues.
In the current issue, you’ll learn about Donald Trumps rhetoric about the environment, the trouble with hydroponic growing and our food supply, bee conservation, a curious new way to clean up trash, and more.
Pays an average of $1,000 per assignment for stories about science, technology, the environment, and people making a difference.
Contact: Editor Maureen Nandini Mitra
Get in line at the grocery story, and you might see this magazine on the news stand. But it’s not just a magazine filled with recipes, photos of tasty food, and tips for healthy eating.
There’s a lot more “meat” in the pages of Eating Well that explains the science behind the taste, textures, and flavors that make food delicious. If you can combine smart storytelling with science and food, write a query letter and pitch an idea. Eating Well pays an average of $1/word.
Contact: Associate Nutrition Editor Julia Westbrook or another member of the editorial team.
Glamping, conservation efforts, fishing for a record-setting marlin, and a Canadian’s guide to the Louvre. Those are just a few of the the types of stories featured in Air Canad’s in-flight magazine enRoute.
“We engage our audience through intelligent writing, insight, humour and spot-on service journalism,” says Editor-in-chief Jean-François Légaré. Study the guidelines, back issues, and media kit before pitching a story idea.
Contact: Editor Caitlin Walsh Miller
How do you run a house, pursue a career, take care of kids, eat healthy, look good, and feel good? It’s the kind of answers you’ll find in the articles published in Family Circle magazine. It’s a national women’s magazine with a circulation of around 4.2 million readers, and a healthy budget to pay freelancers $1/word.
Need some story ideas? In the current issue, you’ll find stories about raising teenagers, the struggle to lose weight and keep it off, popular vacation spots for kids, and more
Carol Tice spend over a decade writing about business, commerce, entrepreneurship, finance, and big businesses like Amazon and Microsoft. And it was the perfect proving ground for her to land a long-term gig writing for Forbes.
This business magazine is among the most recognized for publishing stories about the people, businesses, and trends in entrepreneurship, innovation, leadership, and more. And it’s good for freelancers. Forbes pays an average of $1/word and up.
In the most current issue, you’ll learn about tennis phenom Serena Williams smart investing strategies. You’ll get a behind-the-scenes look at the deal to build Trump Tower. You’ll be exposed to a new perspective on climate change truths that may impact everyone’s bottom line, and more.
Contact: Senior Editor Susan Adams or another member of the editorial staff.
Last year, Entrepreneur magazine launched GreenEntrepreneur.com, to give readers that latest news about entrepreneurship, business, technology and lifestyle aspects of the cannabis industry.
“Rarely does a new industry explode with the exponential success that the legal marijuana trade has experienced,” Entrepreneur Media President Bill Shaw, said in a press release.
If you want to write for Green Entrepreneur, study the guidelines and pitch a story idea about the cannabis industry. Pays up to $1.50/word.
Looking for story ideas? The latest buzz in Green Entrepreneur includes stories about a new weed vaporizor that may popularize smoking marijuana, a $400 million shopping spree spent on cannabis, the latest news about legalization, and more.
Contact: Executive Editor Jonathan Small
If you want to write about archaeology, ecology, biology, geology, and oceanography of marine coastal environments, take a closer look at Hakai magazine.
You’ve got the chops to write for this magazine that pays up to $1/word if you have solid journalism experience, research skills, and the ability to interview sources.
“We are interested in great stories and strong voices,” says Editor Jude Isabella. “We tilt toward science and environmental stories, but we’re also interested in people and communities and how they interact with coastal ecosystems.”
Pitch short news stories about coastal environmental topics (500 to 800 words), or an in-depth feature (1,000 to 5,000 words).
If you can provide video (five minutes or less) or content for an infographic, to go with your story, your chances of acceptance go up.
Contact: Editor Jude Isabella
The United Airlines in-flight magazine, Hemispheres, happens to be one of two in-flight magazines listed in Writer’s Market listed with a $$$ pay rate.
Translation: This magazine pays freelancers an average of $750 to $1,500 per assignment. Publishes stories about global culture, adventure, business, entertainment, and sports.
Inside the current issue, you’ll find stories about must-see-and-do activities in Chicago, insights on life, career and relationships from actress Kristen Bell, moon-landing anniversary celebration tips, and more.
Contact: Editor Ellen Carpenter
This is what the Wright Brothers inspired more than 100 years ago: build a plane from a kit, and fly it.
You might not think a highly-niche magazine with a small circulation (about 72,000 readers). But Kitplanes pays well enough to be included in this list, up to $1,000 per assignment.
Pitch story ideas about building and design, flight testing, construction techniques, personal experience, and features on the people and businesses who are involved in building personal aircraft.
Contact: Editor Paul Dye
Before you pitch a story idea to this feminist-focused magazine that covers entrepreneurship, innovation, social issues, and the politics and policies of business, be sure to read the LiisBeth Manifesto.
If you can pitch a story idea that jives with that about people and businesses making a difference, you’re on your way landing an assignment that pays up to $1,500 U.S. You best bet for a well-paid assignment…pitch a story idea for a profile, how-to, or investigative feature.
Contact: Editor Margaret Webb
If science and technology writing for an educated lay audience is your niche, don’t waste another minute waiting to pitch Popular Science. It’s one of the oldest magazines still in existence with roots dating back to the late 1800s.
It’s got a circulation of about 1.5 million readers, and a healthy budget to pay freelancers. How about $2/word or $1,000-plus per assignment?
Need story ideas? In the current issue, you’ll read about new threats posed by the Zika virus, rapidly-evolving drone technology, a cookie-test kitchen in outer space, and more.
Contact: Senior Editor Rachel Feltman
When Sierra magazine editor Jason Mark stepped into his new role a few years ago, he had just walked through Nevada’s Carson-Iceberg Wilderness, surrounded by massive wildfires. That solo experience shaped his mission to lead this magazine dedicated to causes to protect the planet, natural spaces, and outdoor recreation.
“I keep thinking about that trip to the Sierra, which seems emblematic of the challenges facing the environmental movement today,” says Mark. “We want to celebrate and enjoy the big, open spaces we love. At the same time, we have to be always on guard to protect those places. ”
This is the magazine for Sierra Club members. Pitch story ideas about outdoor adventure, environmental issues, and people on a mission to “explore, enjoy, and protect the planet.” Pays $1/word and up per assignment.
Contact: Editor Jason Mark
Did you know the Smithsonian Institute includes 19 museums and galleries, the National Zoological Park, and 2.7 million square feet of indoor space? There’s a lot to know and a lot to learn about the past, present and future of science, technology, the environment, and even the universe.
And you can write about it for the Smithsonian magazine and get paid well. The Smithsonian pays freelancers $1-$3/per word, which means a $500 assignment is more than realistic. So how do you break into this magazine?
“There has to be something surprising and narratively interesting there,” says Senior Editor Jenny Rothenberg Gritz. “If the story is about the natural world, either the person you’re writing about has to be super charismatic and interesting, or something done about the issue has to be amazing.”
Contact: Associate Editor Thomas Stackpole or another member of the editorial staff.
Here’s an interesting way to differentiate yourself as a news and literary magazine…no advertising. That’s the Sun’s approach to focus on great writing.
This magazine has been around for 40-plus years, and is looking for essays, interviews, and story ideas about political and cultural issues. The Sun pays up to $2,000 per assignment.
“We’ve been described in many ways,” says Editor and Publisher Sy Safransky. “Celebratory, fierce, unflinching, thoughtful, truthful, dark, darkly funny, tender.”
And it shows in recent articles on food inequalities in the U.S., an outsider’s view from inside the commercial fishing industry, the uncanny sense for home that dog’s have, and more.
Get paid to write for magazines
If you’re looking for magazines that pay $500 or more per assignment, this isn’t even the tip of the iceberg. Lots of magazines pay pro rates.
- Check Writer’s Market (print or online) for more. Skip over the magazines that pay low rates, and focus those that pay $1/word or more.
- Get in touch with the editors at custom pubs and trade magazines. These mags frequently work with freelance writers and pay pro rates, but aren’t as easy to find as consumer pubs in Writer’s Market.
- Keep on pitching. Then work through the process to study the magazine, develop a story idea, and write a killer query letter. If you can do this for magazines that pay lower-rates, you can do it for bigger magazines that pay top dollar.
What well-paying magazines do you write for? Tell us in the comments below.
Evan Jensen is the blog editor for Make a Living Writing. When he’s not on a writing deadline or catching up on emails, he’s training to run another 100-mile ultra-marathon.