How much money can you earn from articles and related photos?

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That would probably be the first question asked at my “How to Sell 75% of Your Freelance Writing” seminar–if I didn’t begin with the answer!

For magazines, figure you will earn about $350 an article for those that pay “regular” rates. Plus photos or artwork, if they buy that from you.

The highest paying category? Travel, up to a median rate of about $425.

That doesn’t mean that some magazines don’t pay more. Many of the leading magazines pay one to several thousand dollars an article. Alas, some don’t pay at all. (Academic, religious, and juvenile fall too often in that latter category.)

Newspapers are buying less by the day. Freelancers have their best selling shot in travel, but some newspapers also buy op ed (opposite the editorial page), food, seniors, living, computer, and ecology items. Travel pieces pay $85-$175 usually, but the biggest city papers may pay several hundred dollars, up to about $750.

The national newspapers buy exclusively (if they buy)–New York Times, Wall Street Journal, U.S.A. Today–as do those in a few of the key cities. But most newspaper travel can be submitted and sold simultaneously as long as the targets are 100+ miles apart. Thus, San Jose and San Francisco overlap but Denver and Boston don’t. If they don’t overlap but buy simultaneous submissions, you can sell the same item to them all.

Photos can bring an additional bounty. For magazines, color might earn $100-200 each; black-and-white, about half as much. Covers, $350-600+. Check to see how the editor wants the pix submitted, and, if they want digital photos, the specific submission protocol they use.

The best guide to find out what publications are buying and most of the needed details is the current Writer’s Market. Most libraries and bookstores have it.

My Travel Writer’s Guide explains almost all of this process, but not the topic-spoking (that follows).

The way to make a decent living is by “topic-spoking.” Focus on a core topic and spend prime time creating a knowledge base to draw from. Read the basic books and create a fact pool, with a list of experts to quote. Also list potential articles in both magazines and newspapers, and get your query letters in motion, one about each possible article at a time. Then you patch in the newspaper pieces as you go along.

I used to topic-spoke two (sometimes three) main subjects a year, and by the time I moved on the earnings were in the $3,000-$12,000 area for each. Best yet, the time needed to research the last articles about that subject was about a fifth as much since I’d gathered most of the related material along the way.

Since I’ll be explaining “How to Sell 75% of Your Freelance Writing” here at the blog for the next couple of months, you’ll better understand “topic-spoking” as we go along.

I hope this is useful.

Best wishes,

Gordon Burgett

P.S. I have a free, monthly newsletter. Glad to have you aboard. I also have a subject index to my past blogs and newsletters, if that helps.

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