Does “one hour of writing time can increase your weekly income by at least $150” sound like a lyric from The Impossible Dream? Well, it isn’t – not if you write fillers. Writing fillers is an excellent way for beginners to break into print, or for established writers to boost their income.
If you’re like me, it takes you almost as long to write a good query letter as it does to write an article. We ruminate over every word, we debate about which clips to send (or how to get around the fact that we have none), and we send an SASE – a practice that doubles our postage outlay. Filler writing allows us to avoid these sticky wickets because there is no query letter to write, no clips to send, and nothing to mail. Most magazines and Websites accept filler submissions via email.
You do not need a boatload of experience or a degree to write fillers, but some topics may require a little research. For the most part, however, fillers allow you to share knowledge you already have on a specific topic, which can be anything you are interested in or have experienced. Fillers generally run between 50 and 350 words.
Following is a thumbnail description of the most common fillers.
1. Profiles – Children’s editors understand the need for heroes in the lives of kids, and the person being profiled does not need to be a celebrity. Look around your local community for a young person who has done something remarkable or overcome an obstacle in order to achieve success. Health, fitness and “disability” magazines are good markets for adult profiles.
2. Lists – Lists can be serious (Red Flags of Autism), or humorous (Ten Signs of A Midlife Crisis).
3. Quizzes – These are popular with many publications because readers like them. A quiz allows you to get your message across without lecturing. A good quiz will make the reader think or laugh. A great quiz will do both.
4. Recipes – Recent focus on health, obesity, and staying young (this is the one I’m looking for) has brought about a surge in the need for recipes that are easy to make, healthy, fun to eat, and flavorful.
5. Games and Puzzles – Magazines for kids and adults alike make use of games and puzzles. As in all writing, it is important that you know the magazine you are targeting. If your submission fits their needs and addresses their readers, your work will probably be published.
6. Projects – The list of project possibilities is endless. A few starter ideas include adult or children’s craft projects, decorating ideas, science experiments for kids, simple woodworking projects, and gardening.
7. Reviews – Several magazines and local publications welcome reviews on books, music, theatre, movies, restaurants, clubs and pubs. You obviously need some basic knowledge about the venue or establishment you review.
Most magazines and many Websites publish freelance-written fillers on occasion. The ones below (in no specific order) use fillers in every publication.
Handy hints, great goofs, and workshop tips.
Pays $100 or more for workshop tips.
Short humor, lessons from life, trivia, and everyday heroes.
Scouting-related stories and reader solutions.
(Click on “Reader’s Tips” popup)
Helpful hints, holiday tips, family and personal pampering tips.
I Love Cats
Anything relating to cats.
Birds & Blooms
Pays $10 – 75
Anecdotes, newsbreaks (naval-related), short humor.
Brew Your Own
Humorous, unusual news and stories about home brewing.
Tiptalk and Kidspeak submissions
Pays $50 and up
Jokes. Must be original and no more than 100 words. No pay if published online only, but $300 if published in magazine.
Short angel incidents, attributed quotes about angels.
Payment rates –
“Earning Their Wings” $50
“Only Human?” $100
cdigest – at – stthomas.edu
Jokes, short anecdotes, quizzes, and informational paragraphs.
Pays $2.00 per published line.
Bright Ideas (post cards only)
P.O. Box 5028
Grand Central Station
New York, New York 10017
Pays $50 for tips
milliemag – at – aol.com
Opinions, thoughts, tips.
Radiance Magazine On-line
Radiance: The Magazine for Large Women
Payment Rates –
Book Reviews: $35 to $75
Profiles: $50 to $100,
Short Stories $35 to $50
Poetry: $10 – $15.
Strange Horizons Magazine
Submission must be under 100 words. Type “POETRY SUB” and poem title in subject line. Send text in body of email.
Pays $10 to $20.
Needs anecdotes and short humor for or about writers, writing, and the writing life; 50-250 words.
Pays $.30 – .50 per word.
You won’t put steak on your plate or become a household name writing fillers, but you will keep your writing sharp, get paid well for minimal effort, and keep your name in front of the editor as you work on that “knock your socks off” query for a piece that pays big bucks.
Jacquie McTaggart, author of From the Teacher’s Desk has written more than 250 newspaper columns, fifty-some magazine articles, and countless fillers. She invites you to visit her Website at http://www.theteachersdesk.com.