Recycle Your Words
Several years ago, when I was working as an associate editor for a regional parenting magazine, I discovered we relied heavily on reprint articles from writers to help fill our editorial needs each month. The reprint articles were pieces that had been previously published elsewhere, whether in a national or trade magazine or regional newspaper.
Reprints typically don’t pay as much as an original piece of work—I usually receive $35 to $50 per article for my reprint sales. But if you slowly and steadily build up a catalogue of your available work and market it properly, it can eventually bring in a few hundreds dollars a month, which is a great and easy way to earn passive income.
I know writers who have written health articles for national women’s magazines and then ended up selling the reprints to smaller, more specialized local or city magazines or websites. Evergreen topics work especially well for the reprint market.
When I first started building my reprint list, I focused on regional parenting magazines because I had a lot of articles for that specific market. I pored over the various writers’ guidelines and didn’t approach magazines that specifically said they were not interested in reprints. I then put together a master e-mail spreadsheet that included all the editors of the publications I wanted to target.
When I would send out a reprint query, I would also offer to localize the article to their specific market, which often helps solidify a sale and doesn’t involve a lot of extra time. As part of my marketing efforts for this year, I’m going to try and get more creative and find different markets that might be interested in service articles and human-interest profiles.
One caveat to remember is that to resell an article, you have to make sure you haven’t signed an “all rights” or “work-for-hire” contract that forbids you to sell the article to any other publication. When I first started out freelancing, I signed a contract with a large parenting website that, while paying me a very competitive per-article rate, left me with absolutely no rights to any of the articles. I’m still smacking myself for not renegotiating that contract, as I could still be earning reprint from articles about making your own baby food and childproofing your home to this day.