Writing Green to Make the Green By Susan Sundwall

Even though the calendar says its spring, I’m sitting here at my keyboard next to a window watching the snow come down – but – I’m thinking green. Green buds, green leaves, green grass and greenbacks. Especially that last one. For it seems everywhere I look in the freelance world there are opportunities to get greenbacks for green pieces. No, not evergreen, a term we use to describe a timeless, sits on the shelf for a year, article, but green as in “awareness of the environment.” It’s the latest buzzword applied to all things eco-friendly. Could this writing niche be just the vehicle you’re looking for to generate some greenbacks? If all things green is a market you’d like to pursue, try one of these avenues, ranging from quick and easy to large and lucrative.

1. Reader’s tips – Magazines like Family Circle, Woman’s Day love reader tips and green ones are always welcome. Family Circle pays $50 per tip and Woman’s Day pays $75. In a recent issue of Woman’s World one such tip suggested buying an eco-friendly water bottle with the added bonus of saving $1,500 a year on bottled water. Wow, nice tip! Woman’s World pays $25 per tip.

2. Green product reviews – Not just water bottles but things like green light bulbs, green household cleaners and green beauty care products are just a few items that can be tested and reviewed – by you! I read about the light bulbs in the AARP Bulletin.

3. Green column – Combine the two ideas above and approach your local newspaper editor with a column idea. Query with a list of tips and a product review or two. A regular column might even turn you into an expert and lead to yet more green writing.

4. Alternative energies – Writing about these will take time and research. Enhancing your proposal with artwork or photos will greatly improve your chances of acceptance, too. Magazines like Home Power and AARP will want to see what you’ve come up with. Home Power guidelines are here: http://www.homepower.com/authorguidelines/ AARP pays $1 per word.

5. Kid’s magazines – The first green piece I sold was to a small online children’s website about wind power. But I have a friend who regularly writes for Scholastic’s Science World, which pays considerably more. See their editorial calendar at http://teacher.scholastic.com/products/classmags/scienceworld.htm My wind power article was short, direct and fun. My friend, on the other hand, does oodles of research and consults with experts before she writes a word. The good thing is, there are lots of markets in between and probably one that will suit you such as this one, Alternatives Journal at http://www.alternativesjournal.ca/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=160&Itemid=69

6. The big boys – Environmental issues are of paramount concern to publications like E/The Environmental Magazine and Sierra. Writing for these lucrative markets requires a passion for your subject and a willingness to consider it from many angles including the political one. In this high stakes market you’ll be up against some tough competition, but if you’re up to the challenge and have some photos, you can score. E/The Environmental Magazine pays .30 per word. See guidelines at http://www.emagazine.com/view/?1512 Feature articles for Sierra run from $880 – $3,000. See guidelines at http://www.sierraclub.org/sierra/guidelines/submissions.asp

I became attuned to the green movement when I began seeing and hearing the word “green” in television commercials, on magazine covers and in newspaper ads. It’s just all over the place and doesn’t seem to be going away. And you won’t have to search far to find ideas for anything you write with a green slant. Maybe you got a “green” lecture from the salesman who sold you your hybrid car. Or perhaps your father-in-law is an expert on using corn for ethanol. For my wind energy article I was able to interview my own son, who is a manager for PPM Energy. Take what you’ve learned and get the green out of it. There’s plenty of it around and with a little effort you can turn your green writing into greenbacks!

Susan Sundwall is a freelance writer and children’s playwright. She works from her home in upstate New York and has recently had her story, Bridge Nine, added to Amazon Shorts.