Getting Your Foot In The Door With Fillers

Breaking into the magazine market isn't easy. That said, there are a few tricks you can use to slide on in without doing a full-length feature. One of the things you can do is send fillers.

A filler is basically what most people would call a blurb--a bit of information that readers will find interesting or educational. Many magazines have them, and those that do are always in need of engaging copy to fill those pages. Deliver one that works, on time, and you'll have your foot in the door. From there, anything is possible...

Ok. So you are interested, right? What next?

Here's a step-by-step guide to putting a filler together and sending it in:

Step 1: Target a magazine

You can do this one of two can look at the guidelines for writers to see which publications accept fillers, or you can write a filler specifically for a magazine that you know uses this material. Last time I checked, Writer's Market gave out that information in their guidelines, but if you prefer, you can look through magazines that you would like to target and see if they have filler copy.

Bottom line? Just make sure you are sending a filler to a magazine that uses them--otherwise you look like a rank amateur. Even if you are one--you don't want to look like one.

Step 2: Get a feel for the filler copy

Not all fillers are created equal. Some magazines only do fact-based fillers on things such as medical studies, while others pass along helpful advice on everything from household cleaning to coupon clipping. Pay attention to the "voice" as the writers use first person, or is it more formal? You'll want to keep the tone similar.

Step 3: Brainstorm ideas

Once you find magazines that accept filler material and get an idea of what they use, it's time to try and come up with an idea. Flip through the publication and see if anything sparks your interest as a potential filler subject. Google some of the broad topics in the magazine and look for related studies if they use that kind of material. Once you have a few ideas, see which one is the best match for the publication and keep the rest in case you want to use them for another filler down the line.

Step 4: Write the filler

While you may be thinking this is just common sense, it actually requires a good look at the guidelines. Don't send a magazine a filler that is 500 words if they ask for 200. If they want you to include your sources, make sure that information is clear for the editor that will be reviewing the copy. You need to follow guidelines for article submission, and this is true for fillers as well. Make it easy for the editor to say yes.

Step 5: Send the filler

No need for a fancy cover letter or much of anything else when you send a filler. Just a quick sentence or two to introduce yourself and the copy is sufficient. Personally, I always include a word count so that the editor knows I read the guidelines. I also make sure to have contact information available, including a phone number in case someone has a quick question. 

Writing fillers is a great way to get an editor to notice you. If you do good work, there is always the possibility of being asked to write something longer for the magazine. Even if you aren't asked, you will have a better chance of getting an article published if you have already written for the publication. Be sure and mention that if you decide to pitch a piece, along with the name of the editor you worked with.

Some writers make filler copy their focus while others only do this type of work occasionally, but there is no denying that it is a decent way to try and break into a particular market--especially if you have little experience. Why not give it a try? You may even wind up with a few article ideas along the way!

Profile image for Catherine L. Tully
Catherine L. Tully has over nine years of experience writing for magazines such as American Style, AAA Living and Boys' Life. She is the editor for an award-winning blog on freelance writing and also owns and edits a blog for dance professionals.

Get More Content Like This in Your Inbox

Did you enjoy this post? If so, please subscribe to the All Freelance Writing newsletter where you'll be notified of new blog articles and receive subscribers-only content.

Subscribe now.

9 thoughts on “Getting Your Foot In The Door With Fillers”

  1. Great article, Catherine! Hope you don’t mind – I posted a link to it on my blog post this morning. Good reference when submitting. 🙂

  2. Hi Catherine:

    I’m like Rebecca, I never thought of going the filler route. Great idea! I am definitely going to give that a shot. I tend to pick up my print marketing activity at this time of the year when it gets slower (for me anyway). You just helped with another great marketing tip. Thanks! 🙂

  3. Catherine, I like your assertive approach to breaking into magazines with fillers. Some of my first magazine pieces were fillers for Sunset and VIA (then Motorland). They are great way to break in, and I later got feature assignments.

  4. Why is it so difficult to get started in the writing
    field? I’ve written different material, but have no idea as to where to send them. Some are poems, other fillers,and also short stoies. Also have designed greeting cards, with verses, as I used to do fashion illustrating back in the day. Any advice would be appreciated.
    Thanks for your time
    Shirley Gazenski

    • Hi Shirley,

      I actually addressed this question for you the first time you asked me back in May. You can find the post at the link below. 🙂

  5. Hi Shirley,

    I’m not sure what you mean. If you’re looking to pitch stories to publications, you’ll need to follow their individual guidelines. If you mean submitting things here to this site, All Freelance Writing doesn’t accept them.


Leave a Comment