I'll tell you this--you won't get rich quick writing for print magazines. However, if you are patient and creative, you can build yourself quite a business. You just have to think outside the box a bit.
Trying to come up with new ideas all the time can be draining, and sometimes the pay isn't great per word, or per article. Still, there are some smart things you can do to maximize your income from magazine writing. Here are some to consider:
1. Sell Photos.
Learning how to take your own digital photos may seem like too much of an effort, but it's well worth the time. I've gotten gigs based on it. I've made extra dollars from it. I've even sold my photography solo--without an article. Sure it will take time to understand how to do this. But if you are in the game to make money, at least think about doing your own photos.
2. Sell Reprints.
Try to hang onto your rights as much as possible when selling an article. If you don't give them away, you can re-sell it down the line. It may not get you top dollar the second time--but the work is already done for the most part, so...
3. Ask for More.
If you've been writing a column for a small magazine for a year and have a good relationship with them--why not ask for a little more money? Be sure to remind them how long you've been writing for them and see what happens. Many writers can be shy about this type of thing, but it doesn't hurt to ask.
4. Once in a While--Shoot the Moon.
If you don't aim high once in a while you will confine yourself to a pay bracket that you might be capable of leaving behind. Here and there try to sell something to a bigger market and see if they bite. When you climb the ranks, you make more per word.
5. Send Out Letters of Introduction.
Take the time to send out letters (or, more likely, e-mails) to editors and others who might be in need of a writer. Briefly introduce yourself and provide your website/contact information. Sometimes it may not seem to be worth it, but I have actually gotten a call out of the blue from an editor that I sent info to a full year later.
6. Think About the Trades.
Trade magazines are an option you should consider. They may not be as glamorous as fancy news stand mags, but they can be a good source of regular work. In the print world, anything that provides income on a steady basis is a good thing. If you have a hobby or special area of knowledge, it can also be fun.
Truthfully, it is very hard to make a living writing for print--but it can be done. If you want to make it easier on yourself, take some of the points above and use them to your advantage.
Think of it as building a writing platform rather than sending one article out at a time--it makes sense. Plus, it keep things interesting!