When I first began my writing career, I was so excited by the mere thought of being published that I never gave a thought to making money at it. Being published was reward enough for all my hard work.
But then I decided I liked the idea of checks popping up in my mailbox now and then. So I began writing less for free and about anything that merely caught my fancy, and began instead to concentrate on articles or “fillers” for specific markets that would earn me a little income. I began perusing magazines while waiting at the doctor’s office and other appointments. I studied copies of magazines at the library or newsstand. I searched through women’s magazines, the type you find at the checkout line in the grocery store.
I found in all a steady market for kids’ cute sayings, quips, recipes, humor, jokes, quizzes, cartoons, fact items, and tips on everything from gardening and travel to home decorating and parenting. I also discovered there was a demand for short (250-750 words) themed essays or true-life anecdotes on such things as your most nostalgic, inspirational, personal or even embarrassing moment. And who doesn’t have a large repertoire of those to write about? FARM & RANCH, for example, paid me $50 for no more than 100 words for their “My Favorite Time of Year” column; BACKYARD LIVING paid me $25 for their “Backyard Blunders” page, and WOMAN’S WORLD paid me $50 for a kids’ cute saying (I sold them several of these). MOTHER EARTH NEWS has “Country Lore”, a short column that pays up to $100 for wise-living tips plus $25 for each accompanying photo they use. Many magazines use some type of filler material. And, if even a short 250-word essay or story is too much for you, many magazines pay up to $100 just for photos of your pets or children!
These fillers are quick and easy to write up and magazines pay well for them. I once earned $300 for a humorous department short about my dog! Another great thing about doing these pieces is that, while they’re certainly not great literary pieces, they often pay more than literary pieces (which may take months to write). I squeeze in a couple of these fillers each week in between working on larger projects. And, as I target the markets for perfect fits in audience, writing style, word count, etc., all of my fillers are usually accepted. If an intended market does not accept a particular filler, however, I do not throw it away. Often, with only slight modifications, it can be sold to another magazine. I’ve even sold one piece two times (purchase rights permitting, of course). I’ve earned thousands of dollars over the years writing fillers. If you haven’t given this easy and lucrative market a try, now is the time to do so.
As particular markets tend to dry up occasionally (a magazine may begin to offer small “gifts” as compensation rather than money, discontinue a filler altogether, or cease publication), I recommend you always be on the lookout for new filler markets.
Barbara Weddle has had articles, essays, book reviews, service pieces, and fillers published in more than 200 magazines: CHICAGO LIFE, THE MISSOURI REVIEW, WOMAN’S WORLD, CHELSEA, THE SOUTHERN REVIEW, THE WRITER, and others.
WRITING HISTORICAL FICTION: ADVICE FOR THE DIGITAL AGE
Research, write, publish and promote historical fiction using digital tools!