13 PAYING Personal Essay Markets

paying personal essay markets for writers

Hey, writers! If you haven’t tried your hand at personal essay markets, what are you waiting for?!? This lucrative market is perfect for exploring your own opinions, insights, and experiences. You also get to delve into more creative wordplay, which is great for technical and nonfiction writers. Crafting a thoughtful story for the enjoyment of an audience is a challenging but rewarding writing exercise. Succeed and personal essays can earn you a pretty penny, too, as you’ll see with these 13 high-paying personal essay markets.

If you have an experience or insight begging to be written about, these publications are waiting to hear from you!



“Narratively is devoted to original and untold human stories, delivered in the most appropriate format for each piece, from writing to short documentary films, photo essays, audio stories and comics journalism. We are always interested in adding new, diverse voices to the mix and we pay for stories.”

Pay averages 6 cents per word.


Tin House

Open submissions begin in September for these upcoming themes:

Fall 2017: TRUE CRIME—All crimes welcome; all “truths” welcome, too . . .
Winter 2017: No theme, just some quality fiction, nonfiction, and poetry to carry us through the cold.
Spring 2018: CANDY—What’s that sweet thing you crave that also may be ruining your life?

Pay is reported between 10 and 21 cents per word.



“Motherwell is a publication that tells all sides of the parenting story. We accept work on a variety of parenting-related themes—culture, family life, obstacles and overcoming them.”

Pay varies.


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The Billfold

“The Billfold aims to do away with the misbelief that talking about difficult money issues is uncomfortable, and create a space to have an honest conversation about how we save, spend and repay our debts. We are going to break one of the last taboos in our culture — talking about what you earn, what you spend, what you owe. Interested in contributing to The Billfold? Send an e-mail to notes@thebillfold.com with a specific pitch you have in mind and an editor will get back to you as soon as possible.”

Pay averages 3 cents per word.



“We’re looking for anyone with a fresh voice and a compelling story to share—basically any work that really knocks our socks off. We’re not drawn to experimental or heavy-handed genre fiction. At the core, Slice aims to bridge the gap between emerging and established authors by offering a space where both are published side-by-side. In each issue, a specific cultural theme becomes the catalyst for articles, interviews, stories, and poetry from renowned writers and lesser known voices alike.”

Slice pays $250 for stories and essays.



“Slate is a daily magazine on the web. Founded in 1996, we are a general-interest publication offering analysis and commentary about politics, news, business, technology, and culture. If you are sending a pitch, email pitchslate@slate.com. Please indicate in the subject line what section you’re pitching for.”

Pay is rumored to average 23 cents a word.


paying personal essay markets for writers


Modern Love, New York Times Sunday column

“The editors of Modern Love are interested in receiving deeply personal essays about contemporary relationships, marriage, dating, parenthood…any subject that might reasonably fit under the heading “Modern Love.” Ideally, essays should spring from some central dilemma the writer has faced in his or her life. It helps if the situation has a contemporary edge, though this is not essential. Most important is that the writing be emotionally honest and the story be freshly and compellingly told.”

Reports of pay average 10 cents per word.

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The Sun

Author Pro

“We publish essays, interviews, fiction, and poetry. We tend to favor personal writing, but we’re also looking for provocative pieces on political and cultural issues. And we’re open to just about anything. Surprise us; we often don’t know what we’ll like until we read it.”

The Sun pays $300 to $2,000 for essays and interviews.


Last Page, The Smithsonian Magazine

The Smithsonian’s Last Page is a humor column that pays $1,000.



“Salon welcomes article queries and submissions. The best way to submit articles and story pitches is via email with the words “Editorial Submission” in the subject line. Send your query or submission in plain text in the body of your email, rather than as an attached file.”

Average rate is reportedly 12 cents a word.

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“skirt! publishes two personal essays every month on topics relating to women and women’s interests. All essays for consideration should be submitted in their entirety and be between 800 and 1,100 words. Essays must fit one of our monthly themes.”

skirt! pays $200 for essays.


Chicken Soup For The Soul

“A Chicken Soup for the Soul story is an inspirational, true story about ordinary people having extraordinary experiences. It is a story that opens the heart and rekindles the spirit. It is a simple piece that touches our readers and helps them discover basic principles they can use in their own lives. These stories are personal and often filled with emotion and drama. They are filled with vivid images created by using the five senses. In some stories, the readers feel that they are actually in the scene with the people.”

Rates for essays and poetry are $200.


The Smart Set

“The Smart Set is an online magazine covering culture and ideas, arts and science, global and national affairs — everything from literature to shopping, medicine to sports, philosophy to food. Named for the turn-of-the-century literary magazine edited by H.L. Mencken and George Nathan, the Smart Set strives to present big ideas on the small, the not-so-small, and the everyday.”

Rates for essays are reportedly 7 to 9 cents per word.


Looking for more paying markets? Check out these 13 Print Magazine Markets That Pay Big Bucks!


I spent years working low-paying jobs. I’ve been a cashier. A line cook. I unloaded trucks. These days I support myself and my children with my writing. It’s a new and exciting life – and I want the same for you!

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