Get paid to write: four publications/sites that pay real money

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A common myth in popular culture is that of the “starving artist.” This is usually a writer, huddled over a tiny fire in a drafty attic somewhere, blowing on his or her hands to stave off frostbite while they struggle with their world-changing novel.

However, if the idea of skipping meals and earning pennies for your hard work is not appealing to you, why not kick this myth to the curb and discover ways to earn real money by writing?

Okay . . . how?

Perhaps it’s easiest to start with a suggestion of what not to do, which is to look for work solely on sites like Craigslist, Fiverr, content mills, and job boards.

There are dozens, if not hundreds, of these sites, and you can find them easily with a simple search like “Jobs for freelance writers.” They all sound promising, until you start digging into the specifics.

You’ll have to apply, of course, which often means submitting a writing sample, which is never seen by an actual human being. A computer’s algorithm will determine whether you have met the site’s standards, and there is a good chance you’ll be turned down.

If you are accepted, you become one of a “stable” of writers who need to bid on jobs posted. You’ll need to keep checking back to see what’s available, so it may be difficult to get that first assignment. Or if you do find work, you’ll discover it pays less than one cent per word.

Looking for work is work in itself, so if you’re going to undertake the process, you might as well direct your efforts to finding jobs that pay well. You could start by modifying your search to read “Jobs for freelance writers than pay $100 and up.” In other words, add good money to your search terms. Doing that will bring up several lists of sites, and now it’s up to you to see which ones interest you, and what they require.

Before you begin . . .

If you look over the sites before you start concentrating on those you favor, you’ll notice that they are all specific; they are narrow in scope and are looking for writers who are passionate about the subject and willing to do in-depth research.

Since this is the case, you need to decide on your area of specialization, because you may find yourself doing a lot of work in a particular field. Make sure you query sites and publications that truly interest you. There’s nothing worse than having to research and write about a topic you dislike, or have little interest in.
This seems like it would be evident, but people sometimes get so caught up in just finding work they ignore the basics, like writing about things you are genuinely passionate about for people who share your values.

Once you have identified a site or publication you find appealing, you have several options to ensure you are considered. You can send a Letter of Introduction; pitch a well-done, well-researched article you’ve written; or send a professional query letter.

Diving deeper

With all that said, let’s look at sites and publications that actually pay well.


If you are interested in business and the mechanics of writing, you might find a home with Copyhackers, who publish articles about branding, marketing, copywriting, building a business, and similar topics.

To submit to them, the first step is to ensure you can answer the question they will ask, which is “Why are you the perfect person to write this piece?” Either you have extensive experience in the field, work with experts and can extrapolate from their knowledge, or have an advanced degree.

Once you know your topic, you must craft a compelling headline, one that will grab the editor’s attention. You also have the freedom to take a position contrary to accepted wisdom, or discuss two concepts that either work well together, or are opposed. You can then examine the results of this agreement, or the tension caused by opposition. Finally, submit your pitch to the proper editor.

A word of caution here: Copyhackers does not respond to all pitches, only those it is interested in pursuing. This radio silence can be frustrating, but it is common. Many organizations today simply do not respond at all, unless they want to take the transaction further. You’ll need to get used to throwing your babies out of the nest without getting any reply.

Finally, always double check that you’re submitting to the right person, and spelling their name correctly.

Sport Fishing Magazine

Sport Fishing is aimed at those who are serious about saltwater fishing, whether they are participating in the sport in North America or around the world.

The publication covers fishing at reefs, off beaches, in inlets, and flats, bays, and spots in the backcountry. They publish in print nine times annually, and their readers, who number about 80,000, and tend to be well-educated and affluent, with most owning their own boat.

Sport Fishing Magazine pays as much as $300 for online articles, and up to $750 for stories printed in their magazine (both in USD). The catch (ahem) is that you must be an expert on saltwater fishing, and bring something new to your material. Their description of what they are looking for is clear and succinct:

“Material in Sport Fishing should provide useful information about saltwater fishing, which is (1) new/fresh/different; (2) specific/in-depth and (3) accurate. . . Please don’t submit an idea that has been written about extensively by us and/or similar publications.”

Earth Island Journal

If you are interested in the environment, Earth Island Journal may be for you, with its devotion to discussions of environmental issues. It states that it prefers:

“. . . compelling and distinctive stories that anticipate environmental concerns before they become pressing problems.”

The subjects it covers include environmental justice, animal rights, energy, climate, public policy about the environment, land conservation, wildlife conservation and similar subjects.

Readers of the journal are engaged and savvy about the environment, and many are leaders in the movement. The stories published in this journal help those actively engaged with environmental issues to understand the problems and find solutions within their community.

The journal is looking for stories that are intensively researched and have broad implications for environmental issues, both nationally and internationally.

It also encourages people who have traveled extensively outside North America to report on their experiences. Newer writers have a chance to pitch a short online report, which pays $200. However, since they publish five days a week, writers have a good opportunity to break in here—if you understand environmental problems and are passionate about them.

They are also looking for submissions for their print version, which they publish four times annually. The rate for these pieces is $0.25 per word for articles up to 4,000 words, which would mean a $1,000 paycheck for a piece of that length. However, most of their articles average around 2,800, which will pay you $700. For comparison, 2,800 words is about seven pages, if you’re using the Time New Roman font, size 12.

If you are considering approaching the journal, they also suggest you read their most recent issues to understand what their future direction might be. They also urge you to read material in their archives, to see what they have covered previously.

They also have several prerequisites: they will not consider any material, including pitches, written by AI, nor will they consider academic or technical reports. They are looking for a fresh approach from a real person with knowledge of the field.

As you can see from this survey, knowledge of a subject and a passionate interest in it are the most important ingredients in finding work that pays well. Sites are not looking for opinion pieces that you can compose in a few minutes: they want in-depth, well-researched, fresh material with a relevant viewpoint.

Words of Worth

When you are looking for a website/company that matches your interests, don’t forget about Words of Worth. While we may not suit all writers, we’re sure to be the best choice for some – and that could be you.

We offer briefs to our writers, so you don’t have to pitch your ideas to us. Our assignments often comprise a number of short pieces to be completed in a month, leaving you to set your own schedule. We do expect you will meet the deadlines required, but we leave you to determine how to organize your work. If you are a self-starter with a solid work ethic, we could be the perfect match for you.

Since we coach our new writers on our format and requirements, you do not need prior experience to join our team. We will work with you and provide the feedback you need to complete your assignments successfully. If you are asked to revise a piece, you will receive the accurate information you need to rework the article.

We pay monthly, without fail, unlike some other sites, who neglect to pay their writers if the site itself is not paid. We will take that responsibility and ensure you receive the pay you deserve.

If you’re curious about our work and what we expect from our team, reach out for further information, and apply to write for us today.