Self-development and self-help publications are notorious for not paying writers. So much so, that when people ask if they can earn a living writing about self-development, they’re often steered in a different direction by other writers. This is puzzling, since the self-help industry is valuated at over $10 billion in the US alone.
Whatever you believe about self-help, there’s money to be made here. Preferably, it’s made by people with a genuine interest in helping others become their best selves, but where money is involved, there’ll always be ulterior motives.
Regardless, if you enjoy writing about self-help, here are some publications that pay writers. And remember: self-development is a very, very broad field. This is perfect for flipping your pitches and finding more publications to pitch. Don’t just search for “self-development” publications; pitch places that publish stories about health and wellness, mental health, self-care, exercise, meditation, etc.
Remember to pitch generic publications that have verticals related to self-improvement. Once you start thinking outside the box about all the topics that relate back to self-development, you’re bound to find more places that pay for articles.
Guideposts is a faith-based (Christian) magazine that publishes stories of how someone improved themselves through their faith. Personal essays should be about 1,500 words, and a report from 2016 indicates that a writer was paid .29 per word. Be sure to review the magazine and read the writer’s guidelines.
Real Simple Magazine
Real Simple is an excellent print magazine with an online version. They have several sections, but if you enjoy self-development writing, your best bet would be to pitch their Life section (particularly the health or money sub-sections). The articles in these sections run from 1,200 to 1,500 words. This magazine pays $2 per word for the print version. For online articles the pay varies, so be sure to discuss with an editor prior to writing. They offer a 25% kill fee.
This magazine pays well because it expects excellent writing and research, so be sure to read the writer’s guidelines closely (as always), look at several back issues of the magazine, and research your topic well even before you pitch. All of this goes without saying if you’re a freelance writer, but I’m more and more running into newbies who blindly pitch a magazine they’ve never read, and then get angry when they don’t get a response. So always remember that research is the most important part of a freelance writer’s job.
Experience L!fe is the magazine for members of the luxury athletic club Life Time, though nonmembers also subscribe to the magazine. Experience L!fe publishes stories in various verticals related to fitness and wellness. If you enjoy writing about self-development as well as personal essays, try pitching their “My Turnaround” Front of Book section. A report from 2017 indicates that a solicited manuscript with medium reporting received $1.00 per word. Be sure to read their very detailed writer’s guidelines.
Remember: if you’re a freelance writer, your job is mostly made up of research, especially in the beginning. Read, read, read, research, research, research. Then, and only then, send your pitches.
The Oprah Magazine
If you like to write about self-development, especially for an audience of women, getting a piece in The Oprah Magazine would open a lot of doors. And the great thing about this “exposure?” It actually pays. And it pays well. As a self-development writer, you’ll want to pitch the “Your Best Life” section. Remember, read several back issues, and send the pitch to the appropriate editor. According to The Writer’s Market, The Oprah Magazine pays $2 per word. Again, it pays well because it’s selective, so be sure to do your research well before pitching.
Psychology Today is a print magazine, but also publishes a blog. Reports indicate that writing for the blog is unpaid; however, for the print version, a report from 2013 indicates a rate of .73 per word for an 1,100-word opinion piece.
When you pitch, be sure to state that you’re pitching the print version, and tell them which section your article would fit into. Pieces in this magazine are varied in nature, but they always relate somehow to psychology. Thus, your piece should mention research in the field. Be sure to pitch the appropriate editor.
Spirituality & Health
If you want to write about self-development with a spirituality slant, try pitching Spirituality & Health. They look for stories “about being happier and healthier people, here and now—for people who look beyond their own lives to the health of their communities, the environment, and future generations.” They want stories of about 750 words for their front of book sections, which include Inner life, Practice, Enlightened Diet, Healthy Body, and Biosphere. the most they pay for these articles is $200, but they do not list a minimum payment—so be sure to hash out details with the editor before committing. To read the full writer’s guidelines, click here.
The trick to getting paid for self-development articles is to look beyond the keywords “self-development” and to find publications that have a self-development slant, even if these words aren’t used.
For example, most women’s magazines have a self-development focus; so do some men’s magazines. You need to think about what angle your self-development writing will take. Do you want to write about self-improvement via exercise? Pitch fitness publications. Does your self-improvement writing cater to entrepreneurs? Pitch business publications. And so forth. For more on how to expand the self-development niche, check out this post.