Writing for online magazines can be profitable and interesting, especially if you know which sites are hiring! These tips for finding work on the web are inspired by a fellow writer’s questions about online writing jobs…
To learn more about maximizing your income as a writer, read My So-Called Freelance Life: How to Survive and Thrive as a Creative Professional for Hire by Michelle Goodman – it’s a fantastic, honest look at freelance writing as a career and lifestyle. Far more than your normal business guidebook, this book blends candid, humorous anecdotes from a wide variety of freelancers with Goodman’s own personal experiences as a writer for hire.
Here’s my fellow writer’s question: “I have been regularly writing for two publications (both trade publications – one is a magazine and one is a newspaper), and I like the consistency in having that relationship,” says Ronda Payne – the Renovator’s Wife. “I would like to regularly write for more publications. Perhaps an online magazine might be the route to go?”
Below is our Q & A about writing for the web.
How to Write for Online Magazines
Writing for ezines and other online markets is similar to writing for print magazines. I like them both for different reasons – and Ronda’s questions teased the answers right out of me!
How do I know which online magazines pay writers?
Many – if not most – online markets don’t publicize their rates. When I got my first online assignment from MSN Health, I had to ask for their per word payment (which was on par with a national magazine). This seems to be the standard operating procedure for most publications, whether print or online. I imagine there are several reasons for this; for instance, it gives the editors freedom to assign different per word rates to different writers, and perhaps weeds out the writers who just want to make the big bucks.
I recommend pitching a well-written, compelling query letter to the editor. When the article is assigned, you’ll learn how much the magazine pays. If the per word or per article rate is too low (or nonexistent), then you must pitch your idea elsewhere.
How do I find online magazine writing jobs?
Susan Johnston of the Urban Muse recently published an ebook about writing for online magazines. It offers several possibilities, and I think all the ones she lists are paying markets. Read How to Find Online Markets and Write for the Web to learn more about both online writing and her book!
Do writers pitch online magazines the same as traditional publications?
Yup. Writers need to email query letters to web editors, just as they would to print magazine editors. The query letters need to be concise, relevant, and informative – read How to Write Query Letters for Magazine Articles for tips!
Are there both trade and general interest magazines online?
Yup. Making money writing for specialized or niche markets can keep you busier than if you were a generalist. Trade or niche writers may have less competition (but there are fewer publications, of course. It’s a tradeoff).
Johnston’s ebook about online markets lists a few specialized publications, such as computers/tech/web design, culture/food/lifestyle, dating/relationships, entrepreneurship/business/personal finance, and freelancing/writing.
Do writers promote their online magazine articles?
Sure – it’s a great way to increase your exposure as a writer! And, the more popular your article is, the more likely the web editor will assign you another piece. It’s never a bad idea to promote your work, and online articles are especially easy to share. But I don’t think writers are required to promote their articles….I suppose it depends on the publication.
The beauty of online writing is that it stays available for months – often years. (This is also a curse.) Web articles can be a great way to generate more assignments, because editors have instant access to your past work. Sharing clips is easier when they’re live links versus pdf’d files of past print articles.
What are the differences between writing online versus print?
It depends on the publication you’re writing for. Some, like MSN Health or Woman’s Day, don’t seem to be concerned with web writing strategies (eg, search engine optimization, keyword phrases, or linking internally). Others, especially content sites that rely on organic searches, may require more specific web writing skills. In most cases, if the editor requires specific type of writing, he or she will request it.
Also, online articles tend to be written in web-friendly chunks. For instance, most of the articles I’ve written for big publications, such as Reader’s Digest and Woman’s Day, were in a slideshow format.
The quality of writing and standard of sources/research is the same for both online and print writing. Some online publications have fact checkers, just like print magazines do. Online publications publish articles much faster than print magazines – though many online magazines do schedule articles well in advance.
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If you have any thoughts or questions on writing for online magazines or finding work on the web, please comment below…