If you’re a writer who loves to create articles, you’d be forgiven for feeling sad about the state of article writing today.
And yes, many print magazines you used to see on the newsstand have shrunk, closed, or gone digital-only.
But that doesn’t mean article writing is dead.
Articles inform and tell stories – and our need for information and hunger for stories, are both still going strong.
What’s changed is where the good money is in writing articles for clients.
Where can you still earn well in article writing? Here are seven great opportunities beyond the consumer magazines on your local newsstand:
Take it in Trade
Have you ever been in your doctor or dentist’s office, and noticed perhaps that the dental hygienist is reading Dental Hygiene Today? Or maybe you worked in showbiz, and read Daily Variety.
These are trade publications – magazines for a particular industry or job role. While consumer print magazines have been decimated in the past 15 years, many trade magazines are still thriving.
Why? Trade mags give advertisers a chance to get in front of a highly targeted audience – the exact audience they urgently need to reach. There aren’t a lot of other great ways to do that, so trades are still going strong.
You might think it’d be hard to break into these, or that you’d have to know a lot of arcane stuff about their industry topic…but often, you don’t. Good storytelling is important, and many of the article types they use – product roundups, business and personal profiles, best practices, trend pieces – will be familiar..
Break-in tip: Find trade titles by Googling the industry you want and ‘trade magazine,’ or by browsing on tradepub.com. Pitch your experience with the industry, even if it’s just that you used to work in a pharmacy, or at a farm store. Trades tend to assign ideas, but give them one in your pitch if you can – it helps you stand out.
Come Fly With Me…
Have you enjoyed the in-flight magazine on a plane? If so, you’re familiar with the world of custom publications – glossy magazines that feel like consumer mags, but are produced to promote a company.
And it’s not just airlines; many retail chains have their own magazine, too, mostly notably Costco Connection.
Pay at custom pubs is usually great, since a thriving business is cutting you a check instead of a struggling magazine. I’ve written for several in-flight mags, at rates from $.50-$1 a word and up.
Break-in tip: Find custom publishers (most of which publish titles for many companies) at The Content Council site. Remember, these magazines are cleverly disguised company promos. So find that airlines’ destination map, or visit that retail store and walk the aisles, to come up with story ideas. Editors will be expecting a full-blown query letter that fleshes out your article idea.
Interesting Stories, Corporate Pay
In the past decade, a whole new world of article writing has come into being – a world of companies that run their own online magazines. Writing for these is often similar to writing for magazines or newspapers, in that you’ll have an editor, conduct interviews, and report your story.
What’s different is the size of the paycheck, and who’s signing it. At one point, I wrote a series of 2,000-word articles for an online site created by a major credit-card provider, at $2 a word. In general, there’s no corporate agenda here – they’re just looking for useful information that helps their customers.
Break-in tip: Look for lists online of companies with the best or award-winning online content. Read and prepare your idea. Find an editor and make your pitch.
Brought to You By…
Sometimes, you’re reading a popular site, and find some of the content has the header ‘sponsored post’ or ‘sponsored by.’ This is the world of sponsored content.
If you’ve been earning peanuts doing paid blogging, consider sponsored content your move-up plan. The types of topics you’ll write on won’t be much different – but now, you’ll be being paid by a major bank or other corporation, instead of a traditional publisher.
Sometimes, the sponsored content is on a publisher’s site. One of the big Kahunas of sponsored content is Forbes BrandVoice, which develops all the sponsored content for Forbes.com.
Break-in tip: Start with sites you already read and know. It can take a little sleuthing to find out who’s in charge of sponsored content. When you find them, pitch your knowledge of their audience and show them your best clips. All topics will be developed or assigned with the company that’s sponsoring the post.
Portal to Another Paycheck
Some online sites become the go-to for information on their industry – and they develop a lot of article content. These are often ad-based earning models, so they need a lot of content pages so they can place many ads.
An example in finance is the Bankrate sites (the company owns several other sites besides the flagship). At one point, I was getting $.50 a word to write fully reported articles for an online portal about insurance, for just one example of the types of opportunities here.
Break-in tip: Search for top information sources for industries you know. If they have a lot of articles, you’ve found a target. Find and pitch the content editor.
One of the easiest ways to earn well with your journalism skills is to transition from writing articles for magazines to writing case studies for businesses. A case study tells the story of how a customer came to choose your client’s solution, and what it was like to implement and use it.
They need talented writers to make case studies interesting and dramatic – and that’s where you come in. Case studies are proven to help customers make a decision to buy, so companies crave them. The case study helps prospects understand how the solution will help them.
Break-in tip: Find companies that have case studies on their website. Then, reach out and ask if they need help adding fresh ones. Hint: The more complex and expensive a company’s offering is, the more likely they use case studies. Many business-to-business solutions companies use case studies and are a great source of article writing jobs.
On Beyond Shortness
Once you’ve written an article, you have all the skills you need to write e-books or ‘special reports.’ These popular online sales tools are really just like writing a series of articles. I recently wrote a 100-page e-book for a client—for $9,000. Sounds good?
Each chapter of your e-book or special report will be much like its own article. String them together, and you’ve got a valuable product that can help companies stand out, show their authority, build lead lists and (most importantly) make more sales.
Break-in tip: This is one of the easiest niches to find article writing jobs in, because so many companies have blogs that lack a free product for their subscribers. Any time you see one, pitch them an idea for an e-book or special report.
The Secret to Landing More Article Writing Clients
If your favorite editor retired or your favorite magazine folded, that doesn’t mean your skills are obsolete, or that you’ll never find a good-paying article assignment again. As you can see above, there are still plenty of good market types for articles – if you know where to look.
What you may need to do to land these new clients is perfect your pitch – we’re running a free training on how to nail those query letters which you can sign up to today by clicking here (yes, this is an affiliate link, and Clippings.me may make a commission if you sign up to further Freelance Writers Den products after the free training course!).
Many writers get lazy on querying, living off a few longstanding editor relationships and letting their pitch skills get rusty. Then, that relationship goes away, and you’re panicked. If you know how to write a compelling pitch letter, you’ll never starve and can always line up new clients, as the market evolves.
To build (or rebuild) your article-writing business, you’ll need to do a big marketing push. If your queries never get a response (or not one that’s ‘yes’), now that you know where the good article writing jobs are, it’s time to learn how to write a query that gets results.
Carol Tice writes the Make a Living Writing blog and founded the Freelance Writers Den community. Learn more about how to get article-writing jobs with her upcoming free training, Avoid These Top 11 Query Letter Mistakes. Note that these are affiliate links – Clippings.me may make a commission if you sign up to further Freelance Writers Den products after the free training course!
Carol Tice is award-winning, fun-loving freelance writer living in the Seattle area. She's obsessed with helping writers avoid ripoffs and scams and earn more from their work – she started the Make a Living Writing blog in 2008 and also runs the Freelance Writers Den community.