You can bring in a decent income by writing for publications. And, yes, there are still some publications out there willing to pay. In fact, in addition to traditional magazines and newspapers, you can write for a variety of online venues that also pay. Not to mention, you can produce content for businesses.
Of course, the big hurdle tends to be getting that first byline. How will you get it? I’m all for getting paid for all the work you do, so let’s look at some ways you can get your work published–and possibly receive a paycheck for that work
- Submit shorts to magazines. A great way to break into the magazine industry is with short articles. Most magazines have a section near the front of the publications where they run brief newsy pieces. These may run 250-350 words. You may be able to write one off the top of your head or based on just a small amount of research, possibly from a small news bit you find somewhere that pertains to the publication’s readership. Produce a few of these successfully, and the magazine might take you on for a longer article.
- Write op eds for your local newspaper. Most newspapers need these opinion based articles, thus it’s tends to be an easier way to begin your publishing career. You may or may not get paid, but you will receive a byline. Write a few, and you’ll have something to show an editor at a larger magazine or newspaper.
- Write for your local daily or weekly newspaper. Often these papers are low on staff (and funds). They may be happy to take an article based on something local that is happening but that they cannot send a reporter to cover. Consider writing about your daughter’s swim team or your son’s debate team. If a local author will be speaking at the library, ask if you can interview him for the paper. They may be thrilled to take your piece on speculation (on spec), which means they will pay you and publish it if it is good enough.
- Submit essays and articles to online ezines. Unfortunately, most of these do not pay. However, they have editors who make decisions about what to publish. Therefore, you can claim these published pieces as clips. It’s not like just writing an article for EzineArticle.com, for example, and posting it there for anyone to publish on a site. It will go through an editorial review process and possibly even editing. Once posted on line, it serves as a clip for you to show to other editors.
- Post your work on paid writing sites. A variety of sites will take your work and reimburse you in some way. These include Yahoo.com, HubPages.com, and Helium.com. Some will check the quality of your work, others will not. Some editors will consider this work “bylined.” At least you will be getting paid for your work, and you can direct editors to the links–and they will see your bylines. (Here’s an article on HubPages.)
- Contract yourself out as a copywriter. In this case you may not have bylines per se to show. But you can get testimonials from your clients and provide these to an editor.
- Blog for other bloggers. There are paid blogging jobs to be had. Your name may or may not appear on those blog sites, but if the owner of the blog will verify that you are writing the blog posts, this might be enough to land you an assignment on a magazine or newspaper.
These are just the first seven ways that came to my mind. Do you have others? If so, leave me a comment about how you got your first byline.
Photo courtesy of Ambro