As a freelance writer, it can be a struggle to find high-quality paying work.
It often seems like the only options available are $5-per-article scams and work from content mills, which can seem like good opportunities — until you check your bank account balance and realize it’ll take ages before your hard work adds up into real earnings.
While finding quality paying work is difficult, it isn’t impossible. In fact, there are lots of publications that will pay you a premium to write for them.
It isn’t necessarily easy to get into these publications, and it may take time and experience to build up your writing to a level that will help you get paid these rates. But you can take solace in the fact that writing work exists beyond content mills and low paying gigs.
While there are probably tens of thousands of magazines that pay writers, a much smaller number compensate writers really well.
Here are 10 magazines that will pay $500 or more for an article. Click on the title of each magazine for additional submission information!
History buffs, take heed. This print mag focusing on early American style, decorating, and traditions publishes seven times yearly, and welcomes the fresh voices of new writers.
You can submit both shorter stories and features, which run about 2,500 words. The editors estimate a $500 payment for “a first feature from a new writer,” with the opportunity for higher earnings as your skills develop.
Lifestyle magazine Catholic Digest wants writers with a positive and encouraging voice who write from experience.
Their features are approximately 1,500 words and cover marriage, parenting, spirituality, and relationships, along with parish and work life. The magazine pays $500 for features, upon publication.
Earth Island Journal wants “compelling and distinctive stories that anticipate environmental concerns before they become pressing problems.” It covers a wide variety of environmental issues including wildlife and land conservation, environmental public policy, climate and energy, animal rights, and environmental justice.
If you’re an international traveler, it’s a great opportunity: Earth Island is especially hungry for “On-the-ground reports from outside North America.” The magazine pays 25 cents per word for its print stories, which equates to about $750-$1,000 for in-depth features (about 4,000 words).
You can also pitch a shorter online report, especially if you’re a newer writer. While they only pay between $50-$100 apiece, the journal publishes five times daily and is “always looking for fresh ideas.”
VQR is a journal of literature and discussion with a focus on publishing the best writing they can find.
For poetry, it pays $200 per poem (up to four). If they accept a group of five or more poems, you’ll earn $1,000. Prose pays around 25 cents per word. Book reviews earn $500 for 2,000-2,400 words. VQR has limited reading periods, so check the schedule online before you submit.
AMC Outdoors magazine covers outdoor recreation, education, and conservation topics throughout the Northern Appalachian region, which includes states from Maine to Virginia.
It pays about $750 for features, which usually range from 2,000 to 2,500 words. “We are always on the lookout for stories that have a unique hook, showcase an outdoor sport in a new and exciting way, offer a tangible sense of place and meaning, or profile individuals with unique approaches to conservation in the Northeast,” senior editor Marc Chalufour notes on AMC Outdoor’s submissions page.
You can also pitch a shorter story for one of its departments, which pay $150 to $350 based on the length and complexity of the work.
The Sun Magazine is looking for essays, interviews, fiction and poetry. They prefer personal writing but they also accept pieces about political and cultural issues.
The Sun pays $300 to $2,000 for essays and interviews, $300 to $1,500 for fiction, $and 100 to $200 for poetry. If your work’s accepted, you’ll also get a complimentary one-year subscription.
7. Boys’ Life
This general-interest monthly magazine has been published by the Boy Scouts of America since 1911, and pays its writers between $500-$1,500 for nonfiction articles of as many words.
As far as what to write about, there aren’t too many limits. “We cover everything from professional sports to American history to how to pack a canoe,” read the submission guidelines. Most of all, it should be entertaining to the scouts it’s aimed at.
“Write for a boy you know who is 12,” the editors suggest.
The American Gardener is the official publication of the American Horticultural Society, and it caters to “experienced amateur gardeners.”
It seeks writers for horticulturalist profiles, and articles about innovative approaches to garden design, plant conservation, horticultural therapy, and biodiversity, among others.
It pays $300 – $600 for feature articles, which usually run 1,500 to 2,500 words. The magazine sometimes offers travel and expense reimbursement.
9. One Story
One Story is a literary magazine that features one story per issue, and it is mailed to subscribers every 3 – 4 weeks.
One Story looks for literary fiction in the range of 3,000 – 8,000 words, and stories can be on any subject “as long as they are good.” It offers $500 and 25 copies of the magazine for every accepted contribution, but submissions are only accepted between September and May.
Glimmer Train seeks original short stories for this thrice-yearly publication. Payment can be as high as $3,000 for first-place contest winners (whose submissions carry hefty reading fees around $20), but the “standard” category for stories under 12,000 words pays $700. You’ll only need to submit a $2 processing fee, but the editors ask that you let them know if it’s a hardship: “No one should be prevented from submitting their work for lack of funds.”
Submissions for standard pieces are open in May and November. The magazine owns first-publication rights for every piece they accept. Glimmer Train does not accept poetry, children’s stories or novels.
Have you written for magazines that pay similar rates? Tell us about them in the comments!
This post originally ran in September 2015. We updated it in May 2017.