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Articles for Income

The League of Utah Writers is about writing. It seems a simple statement, and yet many of us who are members find ourselves limiting our ambitions to just a few areas of writing. Some want to be novelists, other poets. We each have areas we enjoy and want to pursue.

Almost every writer I know says they want to be a full-time writer. The concern comes down to being able to support ourselves in that endeavor. What can we do while we create the story that climbs up the best seller list? I know writers who teach, edit, read submissions, publish, along with many other jobs to pay the bills. I am presenting another option—writing articles.

I’m not saying you have to write articles for magazines, blogs, or other electronic media. I’m asking you consider what writing articles can do for you by helping to finance a writing career. The articles I write have made it possible for me to attend conferences, conventions, film festivals, and other events at no cost. Earnings have also paid my way for room and food while attending the events.

Every writer can do this.

Your Interests

Everyone who knows me knows I have a background with tabletop games. I’m sure you have fields of interest. If you don’t think you do, I hope this will help identify what you like.

Do you have a hobby you enjoy? I play games. My wife does counted-cross stitch. I know a person who can give you statistical information about the University of Utah’s football team for the past several years. You may like gardening, or houseplants. How about cooking? There are people who go hiking, camping, fishing, RVing. I’ll bet you are now thinking about some of the things you like to do.

Write a list of what you do for fun.

What do you like to learn? There used to be a saying if you spend 10,000 hours (about ten years) doing something you will be an expert. This has been a greatly debated topic since it was introduced. But there is a level of merit of the concept to consider. We each have an area we can teach about.

My dad always gave a line he attributed to Will Rogers, but I haven’t been able to confirm the origin. “Every person I meet is better than me at something. And I am better than them at something.”

We each have some area of knowledge we can share with others.

Write a list of what you are good at.

We also each have passions we follow that we don’t always look at as areas of interest or something we are particularly good at doing. But we are moved by it and want to be involved. This could be an organization you’re involved with or a cause you would like to further.

Your Research

We are told to write what we know. I do a lot of research to help me write what I know. Other writers and I have had some good discussions about the research we have done, which helps us all.

How we do research covers many different avenues. We take road trips to experience the places we write about. We read up on the history of a place or industry, or profession. There is research on mundane matters like the interactions between the classes and the use of symbols (or lack thereof) during the protestant reformation.

If you’re like me, you have copious notes to steer your tale in the right direction. All of that can serve an additional purpose. Everything we research can be written into an article for another outlet. I have found I can usually take notes on one and create several articles for different outlets by providing the point of view for a particular publication. I learned it as repurposing the material.

Holidays, Anniversaries, Lists

Looking ahead can help sell an article idea. Most larger publications, especially those that are in print, are planning their layouts in advance. The larger the publication the further out they’re working. Often, articles for Holiday editions are being closed for submissions in June. Even if the publication doesn’t plan that far ahead, giving the publisher the option of planning ahead gives them more freedom as the holiday gets closer.

Anniversaries can be of whimsical or historical significance. I’ve recently seen articles touting the 20th, 30th, and 40th year of release of a movie and looking at how it compares to movies of today and how society views the story. Articles about past books are still getting published.

Lists have always been popular and have become even bigger with social media. People like to know what you think is good, better, and best. They also like to disagree with it, which is why I think these have become so popular online. I know a person making a living at writing lists, only lists for online, social media, publication.

In Summary

Writing is a passion taking a different path for each of us. We are drawn to specific genres, styles, voice. As we pursue our characters through the pages they lead us, we want to spend more time with them so we can share their stories. We just need to figure out the best way for us to be able to spend the time with them.

Not everyone enjoys writing articles. And if it is just another form of a job you want to get away from, it is probably not for you.

Those looking for another stream of income from their writing might find this a way of combining what they are already doing with something that pays for what they want to do full time.

About the Author

Daniel Yocom is currently part of the leadership of the Infinite Monkeys Genre Writers. They have been writing articles for different outlets for over ten years. After supporting their family by being a quality assurance specialist and technical writer (mostly standard operating procedures and reports) they were able to leave the job behind at the start of 2022.

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