Have you ever wondered how much full time writers earn?
Truth is, it varies.
It’s not just writing chops, although that’s a factor. If your writing is weak, you likely won’t get top of the line pay. But the converse is not true. Great writers don’t always get great pay.
There’s no shortage of awesome writers who get paid peanuts.
Sometimes, it comes down to who you write for. There are big outlets that pay poorly and others that pay their writers well.
If you’re just getting into writing, you should probably start with sites that pay $50-$100 per piece and build some experience.
Truth is, writing for $50 per article might sound great if you’re used to getting pennies for your writing, or nothing at all. But once you factor in taxes and time, you’ll realize that you need to get paid better to consistently turn out good content that’s backed by research.
If you are somewhat established and can show examples of published writing if you’re asked to, here’s five sites that pay experienced writers very well.
When and why they don’t respond…
Sometimes writers are in such a hurry to submit their writing in hopes of a great payout, they forget to read the submission guide. They don’t read the samples. They don’t read the publication to get the feel of the writing.
This makes it harder for all writers as a whole. Because of the volume of submissions that do not follow the guidelines, most of the outlets listed below will not even respond if they aren’t interested in your pitch or submission.
If you’re serious about building a career as a writer, take the time to read all the submission information. Once they’ve accepted you once, you’ll become a familiar name and that goes a really long way towards repeat work.
1. The Sun
Rate: $300 — $2000
The Sun is an independent, ad-free magazine that’s been using words and photos to evoke the splendor and heartache of being human for over 40 years.
Writing from The Sun has won the Pushcart Prize and been selected for numerous anthologies, including Best American Short Stories and Best American Essays.
They have 3 submission categories, but the “Readers Write” section is unpaid and compensation is a complimentary one year subscription.
However — they pay very well for essays, fiction, poetry and interviews.
Submission Guide: https://www.thesunmagazine.org/submit
Also see: Submission section on their FAQ
2. Income Diary
Rate: $200 - $500
Income diary is a site created by and for people who make a living online.
They are looking for a constant stream of content on topics like content creation, traffic generation, building websites, search engine optimization, blogging, digital products, affiliate marketing, entrepreneurship, success mindset and anything related online business and earning an income online.
There are several ways to submit. At the top of the submissions page, there is a call for specific content — that option pays $200 — $500. As I write this, the current call-out is for a specific type of SEO content.
In addition, they offer email notification of writing calls, and general submissions, which pay $200. If you earn your income online, this site could represent repeat submissions and income for you.
Submission Guide: http://www.incomediary.com/write-for-incomediary
Rate: $250 for reading lists / $500 for essays
Length: 750 words for reading lists, 2000+ words for essays
Longreads is part of Automattic, the creator of Wordpress. Founded in 2009, they are dedicated to finding and sharing the best storytelling in the world.
Longreads has been nominated for 4 National Magazine Awards and has been cited for digital excellence by the Online News Assoc. and Peabody Awards.
Stories from Longreads have been featured in the Best American anthology series, and one of their series was named one of the best podcasts of 2018 and won an Edward R. Murrow Award in 2020.
At $250 for a 750 word reading list or $500 per essay, a good writer could earn a very decent income writing for them.
Their submission guide includes instructions for submitting, as well as sample stories to show writers the “feel and tone” they are seeking.
Submission Guide: https://longreads.com/submissions/
Rate: up to $0.60 per word
Smithsonian Magazine accepts unsolicited proposals from established freelance writers. Note that the submission form asks where else you’ve been published, and requests that you submit links to 3 previously published pieces so it’s not a starting point.
They are looking for pieces that relate to subject matters researched, studied and exhibited by the Smithsonian. They prefer content related to history, science, art, popular culture, and innovation.
5. Foreign Policy
Rate: up to $1 per word
Length: varies, typically 1000 words
With 50 years of award-winning journalism and analysis, Foreign Policy is at the forefront of media organizations devoted to coverage of global affairs.
They reach an international audience of millions, and welcome pitches from freelance writers around the world.
They are seeking smart, insightful on-the-ground reporting on politics, culture, and world events. Find an angle into the big story everyone else has missed and they want your story.
Submission Guide: https://foreignpolicy.submittable.com/submit
Serious writers earn better pay…
But they also realize that getting published is of mutual benefit. Writing for a living isn’t about vomiting up a story and looking for the big payout. It’s a mutual relationship in which the writer provides the type of content the publication is seeking, and is compensated well for doing it.
It begins with choosing a publication and learning exactly what they’re looking for. Think of it as reputation building. Repeat rejections build a reputation, too, but not the kind you’re hoping for.
Good luck, and happy writing!