How to Get Paid Well Writing for Trade Magazines that Don't Pay Well

Writing articles for trade magazines can be fun. In some cases, those trade magazines can pay very well, but in others (generally with smaller audiences) the pay can be downright dismal. After seeing a complaint along those lines yesterday on a writing forum, I decided to share a quick tip for how you can write for those lower-paying trade publications, and make out much better than the rates they advertise for freelance writers.

The key is ghostwriting.

Yes, I know not everyone is a fan of ghostwriting. I'm not always crazy about it myself, but given that I do a lot of corporate communications / business writing, I've gotten used to it. On the plus side, it often pays quite well. On the downside, you don't get a credited clip.

How Can Ghostwriting Get You Published in Trade Magazines?

When you ghostwrite for trade magazines, the magazine itself won't be your client. Instead, you'll write features for corporate clients, small businesses, or industry professionals. They then get the credit, and use their industry credentials to pitch the piece to those magazines.

I have yet to finally pitch a bylined freelance piece to a magazine. But I have finally been published in print more than a few times - always through this method.

Why it Can Pay More

Writing for an end client often pays more and has a better chance of publication. Why?

First of all, the client isn't paying you for simply a feature. There's added value here - they're paying for the potential exposure and the role features credited to them can play in their own image building or image management campaigns. Corporate folks and business owners don't always have the time to write features themselves, so you're also offering added value in convenience and time saved. Your value to the end publication doesn't often compete with your potential value to a third party client. These clients also often have bigger marketing and PR budgets than a trade publication's budget to hire freelance contributors.

On top of that, those corporate clients aren't looking to get paid by the magazine like a freelancer is. They're contributing something for free for the credit, making a potentially identical article much more attractive coming from that client than from you.

This really isn't something I've seen a lot of freelance writers doing. However, it's very common in the PR world, which is why I started offering the service (when I was working full-time PR). I find the work rather enjoyable, and the pay at times is better than what I'd earn doing similar articles, so why not? If you're not completely turned off by the idea of occasionally ghostwriting, give it a shot. It could be a good way to get your feet wet in print publishing if you haven't already, especially if your clients are willing to serve as a reference on that previously-published work if you later decide to pitch stories under your own name.

Profile image for Jennifer Mattern

Jennifer Mattern is a professional blogger, freelance business writer, consultant, and indie author. She runs numerous websites & blogs including All Freelance Writing, Freelance Writing Pros, NakedPR, and Kiss My Biz.

Jenn has 25 years' experience as a professional writer and editor and over 20 years' experience in marketing and PR (working heavily in digital PR, online marketing, social media, SEO, new media, and thought leadership publication). She also has 19 years' professional blogging and web publishing experience (including web development) and around 18 years of experience as an indie author / publisher.

Jenn also writes fiction under multiple pen names and is an Active member of the Horror Writers Association.

Subscribe to the All Freelance Writing newsletter to get freelance writing updates from Jenn in your inbox.

Leave a Comment