Knowledge, Price, and FLEXIBILITY are What Sell Articles – by Darlene Franklin

Knowledge, Price, and FLEXIBILITY are What Sell Articles – by Darlene Franklin

I recently sold a reprint to a magazine that I could easily have overlooked—for more than their listed payment. How? Because I knew how to work from my strengths.

I had reviewed the paying markets in WritersWeekly. Although none were an obvious fit, one magazine expressed an interest in articles that weren’t necessarily politically correct. I sent them a column on the history of presidential campaign slogans and promises.

The piece turned out to be the perfect sidebar for an article they already had planned. They asked me how much I needed in payment even though their guidelines listed a standard payment. Since they asked, I mentioned a higher price, and expressed a willingness to negotiate. They accepted my terms without a quibble.

Because I knew what I could write well, I studied the markets, and I knew what I was worth, I was able to sell a reprint for a nice paycheck.

Know what you can sell.

Freelance writers develop their sense of what sells by writing and submitting. The process helps them identify their expertise in subject matter and style. They learn to balance the time needed for research and composition against the payment offered. And, they follow up with magazines that express interest in their writing.

Deciding which magazines to avoid is as important as finding a good match. In each issue of WritersWeekly, I may find one suitable market. I bypass magazines that require expert knowledge I lack. Research only takes me so far. Issue-centric magazines are another category I avoid—unless I happen to share their passion. I don’t try to sell to a regional magazine that I don’t know.

It sounds like I say “no” to a lot of markets. I call it being smart, and sending queries to places that are a good match. I’ve reached the point where, even if I don’t make a sale, I almost always get a personalized response—encouraging me to submit again.

Know what you’re worth.

Decide ahead of time how much money you expect to make per article. Don’t let the question, “how much do you charge?” take you by surprise. What calculation do you prefer—by the word? By the hour? By the project?

Once you establish a relationship with a magazine, you may wish to negotiate new terms, especially with a publication that generally doesn’t pay. Ask for a modest fee. You may, of course, choose to stop writing for them as well, and seek work that pays in dollars, and not exposure.

The larger your portfolio grows, the more power you have to negotiate your terms.

Know how to change or sharpen your focus.

A single idea can lead to several articles. Recently, I wrote a devotional about Jesus’ last words. I used that study as a springboard for an article about Holy Week, and a second devotional related to the coronavirus scare.

If your first article pitch doesn’t sell, rethink the angle. How can you tweak it? Magazine editors value writers who propose a different twist on their proposed theme. Sometimes, it requires thinking on your feet.

For instance, recently I spoke with an editor who told me their current theme was “Road Trip.” Gut reaction? I live in a nursing home. What do I know about road trips? A second later, an aha moment clicked. Since it’s a Christian magazine, I suggested an article called, “Packing for a Road Trip: Tips from the Book of Proverbs.” The editor loved the idea.

How often do we submit an article to hear, “we just published an article about this subject?” When that happens, change the angle of your story to a unique, sellable concept. For instance, I was invited to a write a piece for “Issues I Face.” I mentioned surviving my daughter’s suicide. Done that, they said. Could I write about the lessons I’d learned, instead? Yes, I could.

Develop a habit of listing at least three types of articles you could write on your proposed topic: it could be a list, a round up, a personal essay, how-to, or more. Adjust the angle for the magazine you’re approaching, and you will increase sales.


Darlene Franklin is a Warrior Woman who writes from a nursing home. She lives near her son and his family in Oklahoma. She has published more than sixty books, including poetry, nonfiction, devotionals, mysteries, and contemporary romance, but historical fiction is the backbone of her backlist. The Drummer’s Angel is available for purchase as an ebook or in print at Amazon. You can catch up with Darlene on Facebook.

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