Personal essays are everywhere you look lately, and many of you love to write them. Whether they are your go-to format, or just something you dabble in from time to time, it can be intimidating when you are starting out placing your first personal essays. We’ve put together a list of ten publications that not only publish personal essays, but also love to hear from new writers!
The Rumpus – Editor-in-Chief Marisa Siegel describes The Rumpus as “Great writing that might not find a home elsewhere.” They like unique perspectives and deep-dives into pop culture. They also plan to publish more political pieces in 2017. While opt-in payment is very small (usually less than $20 a piece), The Rumpus is a respected publication on the radar of many writers due to the quality of story they publish, and their reputation for publishing unique and diverse points of view. Submission Guidelines; Editor Q&A with Marisa Siegel of The Rumpus
SheKnows – This site publishes writing on women’s issues including parenting, beauty, food, health, and even pets, to name just a few. Many writers publish on the thriving open contributor platform known as SheKnows Community. Writers are unpaid, and enjoy gaining instant exposure to a segment of the SheKnows monthly readership, which spans into the tens of millions. If your piece is selected as a staff pick, enjoy even more visibility among SheKnows readers. While the SheKnows Community does not offer paid writing opportunities, SheKnows.com has editors with small freelance budgets. They can be contacted individually by vertical at Parenting@sheknows.com, Health@sheknows.com, Love@sheknows.com, Entertainment@sheknows.com, Food@sheknows.com, and Pets@sheknows.com. Rates vary for freelance opportunities, however flat rates in the $50-60 range seem to be frequently reported by writers.
Editor Q&A with Colleen Stinchcombe of SheKnows
DAME – DAME publishes reported pieces, op-eds, and personal essays covering culture, politics, parenting, family, gender, sex, entertainment, tech culture, business and personal finance, and more. DAME’s wheelhouse is starting and continuing conversations on trending topics. Oh, and they love humor essays (even satire) if you’ve got ‘em! Founder, Jennifer Reitman is very supportive of bringing new writing voices to DAME. Rates vary, but are very competitive for new writers.
Submission Guidelines; Writing For DAME Magazine – With Founder & Publisher, Jennifer Reitman
Bustle – This very popular women’s interest site is known for shareable content. Features Editor, Rachel Krantz doesn’t care if you are brand new to submitting your work, or only have a few bylines, and is very open to hearing from new writers. Bustle looks for personal essays that have “strong, intimate narrative with a distinctive voice that is authoritative yet still fun and accessible for Bustle’s audience.” P.S. Their offspring publication Romper is looking for similar content about millennial motherhood. Rates for Bustle are not published, but based on writer reports from WhoPaysWriters.com, rates hover around a .05/word on average.
Submission Guidelines; Practical Submission Advice from Bustle Features Editor, Rachel Krantz
Modern Loss – If you are writing about navigating your life after a death, Modern Loss is a great site to consider. While they don’t yet pay, top agents do canvass the site, and a byline here is a nice feather in the cap for a new writer. Authors span new writers to best-selling authors, so you’ll be in good company.
Submission Guidelines; Writing For Modern Loss About Your Life After A Death – With Co-Founder & CEO, Rebecca Soffer
Narratively – This site is one of a kind and practices “slow storytelling” of untold human stories. Selected by TIME magazine as one of the top 50 websites in 2013, the quality of writing and unique stories you’ll find here are riveting and special. Submission guidelines specifically call out their interest in adding new voices to the mix, and they pay $150 for personal essays.
Submission Guidelines; Editor Q&A with Lilly Dancyger of Narratively
Buzzfeed READER – A strong voice that speaks to readers is what READER is looking for in the personal essays they publish. Pretty much any topic can work, though they suggest money, family, food, religion, sexuality, relationships, disability, illness (mental or physical), hormones, race, body image, drugs, and travel. They also encourage critical essays on cultural aspects such as books, technology, sports, entertainment, celebrities, politics, and fashion. And don’t forget, this is Buzzfeed people, so you are talking about a large audience. READER promotes their rates as competitive.
Mothers Always Write – One of the smaller publication on this list, MAW publishes literary essays about “the mothering experience” whether that be young children, teens and tweens, or adults. Mothers Always Write pays $25 for pieces selected in their published issues, and nominates for a number of awards including the Pushcart Prize. Check guidelines for suggested themes.
Submission Guidelines; Editor Q&A with Julianne Palumbo of Mothers Always Write
The Sunlight Press – The newest publication on this list, “The Sunlight Press is a digital literary journal that provides a home to new and established voices…We want to hear the ways people turn toward light and hope, whether it is through the arts, culture, spirituality, or humor, and also how they respond to the darkness and navigate unknown spaces.” Rates are unpublished, however TSP does pay writers
Chicken Soup for the Soul – At any given point in time, CSFTS usually has 4-5+ open calls to submit stories for their possible book topics. While many authors return to write for more than one book, they are always looking for new writers. Submissions are very competitive and can take months or more to hear back, however, published authors rave about this publication and the benefits received. Benefits include $200 for a published story, major bragging rights, 10 free copies of the book you appear in, discounted books, and exclusive CSFTS author communications.
Submission Guidelines; How To Get Published In Chicken Soup For The Soul With Editor-in-Chief Amy Newmark
So, you’ve successfully managed to avoid your social commitments to sit down and write something. After combing through it to check the grammar and that there isn’t a trail of letters from when you fell asleep on your keyboard, what’s the next step? You need to find somewhere to submit your writing online.
The online writing community is bigger and better than ever before; one Google search later and you could find your new literary home. However, it might be a case of trial and error with some submission guidelines being stricter than others or your style of writing not quite matching the publication’s. Luckily, we’ve trawled the web for you, bringing you fifty awesome websites that will be happy to receive your writing submissions and potentially even publish them.
A couple of things to note before we jump right in:
1. This isn’t a comprehensive list, so you’re welcome to add a comment with your suggestions.
2. Some of these websites operate seasonally, which means that they might not accept your submission at this point in time.
We’ve also excluded the biggest names for literary (poetry, short stories) submissions because it’s a little arbitrary to list The New Yorker, The Atlantic, and so on.
Without further ado, here are the best websites for you to submit your writing to, whether it’s heartfelt poetry or a listicle on the best Adam Sandler movies.
EDITOR’S NOTE: two of these sites have stopped publishing in the time since our coverage. If you know of any alternatives, let us know and we will check them out!
1. Poetry Foundation
Who are they? Only one of the oldest poetry magazines in the world. They aren’t stuck in the past, though – you can find many fantastic poems from modern talent in this prose treasure trove. Maybe you could be one of them?
Do they pay? Quite handsomely. $10 per every line published.
2. Carve Magazine
Who are they? A popular haven for creative types since 2000. They celebrate honest writing and work closely with writers to help promote their talent.
Do they pay? Pretty well. $25 for every poem published.
3. The Legendary
Who are they? Another pillar of the online writing community, The Legendary regularly publishes some superb underground poetry and other interesting features.
Do they pay? Not that I could see.
Who are they? They’ve been around for thirty years, so it’s fair to say they have their fans. Their typical output is varied, but is based on one central theme: quality.
Do they pay? Between $25-$300 for published materials under general submissions. They also hold two contests with massive cash incentives: $1500 for winning fiction and $1000 for winning poetry.
5. Drunk Monkeys
Who are they? As dedicated a team of editors and writers that you will find on the ol’ WWW, Drunk Monkeys are constantly working to promote and spotlight emerging excellence in the field of writing, including poetry. Due to demand, their submissions aren’t always open.
Do they pay? No, but they work their fingers to the bone until they think you’ve been promoted properly.
6. All Poetry
Who are they? Probably the place online where poets congregate to discuss, dissect, and create. If you’re looking for feedback as a new poet, we’re pretty sure one of the 500,000 members will be happy to help.
Do they pay? They hold regular poetry competitions with cash prizes as incentives.
7. The Rialto
Who are they? A seriously stylish outlet for poets based in the UK, though it seems like anyone of any background can submit. They’re on the rise and have been for the past three decades, helping to establish poetry newcomers and spotlight underrated names in the process. They’ve just released issue 85 of their magazine with them publishing at least three magazines per year.
Do they pay? £20 per published poem.
Who are they? A diligent and passionate team that have been delivering poetic excellence since 1985. They receive a serious amount of poetry each year, so if you want to be one of the 150 published each year, you best make sure you’re sending your best work.
Do they pay? Not that I could tell.
9. Arc Poetry Magazine
Who are they? A Canadian publication, but they know that writing talent doesn’t have borders, so submissions are open to all. They’ve been around for over three decades and have won more than their fair share of accolades and fans in that time.
Do they pay? $40 for any poem published across multiple mediums.
10. United Press
Who are they? A shining light for British poetry, United Press has been around for many years, publishing and promoting new talent aplenty to success. They aren’t the flashiest, but poetry doesn’t need to be.
Do they pay? Looks like a no.
Who are they? Well, they have a name that sort of explains everything. Story is a magazine dedicating to publishing the most innovative, exciting short stories out there. They run a print publication and, because they love spoiling us, regularly publish online, too.
Do they pay? $20 per page. Don’t think making your font 48px will fly with them.
12. Flash Fiction Online
Who are they? Masters of the concise, FFO are after shorter than short stories – don’t send them anything over on 1000 words. They like immediately captivating prose, but they aren’t big fans of erotica, so be sure to be selective when dipping into your portfolio.
Do they pay? $60 per story, which is pretty great.
Who are they? Literary anarchists; they aren’t seeking traditional prose. Mess with the narrative and their minds and you will be in their good books. If you think outside-of-the-box and it’s reflected in your writing, you couldn’t ask for a better platform.
Do they pay? Yes, but a maximum of $40 at a rate of 3 cents per word.
Who are they? Another group of writers who go against the grain, Shimmer mainly seek speculative fiction with a fantasy bent. Keep it tight at around 4000 words and the editors will be your new best friends. 7500 words is the maximum, but you can send them an email to justify your story if it exceeds that.
Do they pay? Pretty well considering – a maximum of $50 at a rate of 5 cents per word.
15. One Story
Who are they? Evil geniuses: they only publish one short story roughly every month with a massive amount of money going to the published writer. Your odds may not be high with this publication, which is why you should probably get around to writing your Great Expectations sooner rather than later.
Do they pay? $500! Five. Hundred. Dollars.
Who are they? Exhibitors of the wacky and strange, Crazyhorse is one of the most accepting literary magazines out there for short stories – there really aren’t many restrictions with what theme or form your submission can take. Its editors are after life’s eccentrics, so if you’re reading this while playing ping pong, you could be just their type of person.
Do they pay? Very well indeed. A maximum of $200, $20 per printed page.
17. The Sun Magazine
Who are they? Thankfully not related to the British newspaper, The Sun Magazine are uncompromising with what sort of short story you can send to them. It’s essentially open house, so if you have something odd or a masterpiece to unveil, they will be happy to receive your submission.
Do they pay? You could say that. $300 to $2,500 for nonfiction or $300 to $1,500 for fiction, plus a subscription with them for a year.
Who are they? As their name suggests, Brevity love the succinct side of short stories. If you can convey your narrative in under 750 words or less, you have a brilliant community to become a part of. Both seasoned writers and burgeoning newcomers are welcomed.
Do they pay? More than fairly. $45.
Who are they? Lovers of science-fiction, Tor has published plenty of talent in its esteemed history, including many short stories and novellas. Due to the volume of submissions received, however, they are on an indefinite hiatus, which means that they will be back, but only once they’ve reviewed previous submissions. It’ll be worth the wait when those doors open again, though.
Do they pay? A rate depending on the commercial prospects and quality of your submission.
20. Word Riot
Who are they? Always looking for new talent, this celebrated literary journal will pass the 15-year mark since launch in 2017. They’re about, and always have been, finding new talent and helping them to capture the attention of new audiences.
Do they pay? Not that I could see.
Who are they? One of the biggest culture-centric websites around, Salon is bookmarked by many people looking for thought-provoking, important essays and personal experiences. They’re huge, so be aware that you might not be successful.
Do they pay? Not sure, some previous contributors have said so.
22. The Awl
Who are they? Big believers in the value of personal essays. The Awl have been around for some time, helping writers to weave their own stories in big numbers. The mundane need not apply to be published by these guys.
Do they pay? Anywhere between $30 and $250.
23. Huffington Post
Who are they? They’re either loved or hated, but there’s no denying that HuffPo is a big player, possibly one of the biggest websites ever made, and they want you to turn your personal experience into essays.
Do they pay? Not even a penny, which I’ve always found a little weird.
24. The Toast – Now Defunct
Who are they? A popular online magazine with a mischievous side. They have a very active community who won’t hesitate to tell you what they think of your work, good or bad. Don;t let that put you off, though – The Toast is one of those websites that will grab you by the eyeballs.
Do they pay? Yep, a nice amount. $50 for your troubles.
25. Tin House
Who are they?The destination for writers of all pedigrees – looking at their testimonials will make your head spin. Being published on Tin House is something every writer needs to tick off their bucket list, but don’t even think about writing over 10,000 words for them.
Do they pay? Enough for a mortgage on a small house. $1000 max.
26. Full Grown People
Who are they? Full Grown People are fond of submissions and personal essays that center around being an adult, whether it’s a piece on the juxtaposition to childhood or something similar. They receive a mighty amount of submissions, so you may have to bear with them. It will be worth the wait, though – the community is great.
Do they pay? Sadly not.
Who are they? Couldn’t say that I’d read much of their output before putting this list together, but once I was on that website, it had me. They publish some excellent content in an eclectic range of categories, including personal essays. Bear in mind that they’re huge, so you may have to be patient with your submission.
Do they pay? Generously. Between $250 and $500.
Who are they? Massively popular, Bustle boast over a million fans on Facebook alone, so you can expect they receive their fair share of submissions, too. If you’re stuck on what to write for them, they accept a broad range of different works, including personal essays that capture the attention.
Do they pay? Depends. Unsolicited, no. Otherwise, yes.
29. Good Old Days
Who are they? As you might be able to guess, Good Old Days love nostalgia. It’s essential that you have experience of life in the 50s or earlier that you want to turn into a personal essay for them. The website is full of heartwarming and heartbreaking tales in equal measure.
Do they pay? Anywhere between $15 and $75.
30. Literal Latte
Who are they? Dedicated to the core. Literal Latte are accepting submissions every single day of the year and consider all submissions, no matter your experience. They thrive on giving chances to those who may never get them, so your personal essay could fit in well here.
Do they pay? Not for general submissions (yet), but they do hold five contests a year with three of them having $1000 prizes.
31. The Verge
Who are they? A massive entertainment and technology website that certainly doesn’t accept half-measures. They are extremely particular about what they publish and aren’t after your opinions, but if you can bring them a breaking news story, they’ll be listening.
Do they pay? Doesn’t say.
Who are they? A travel guide website that doesn’t suck. All of their features are packed with accurate information and opinion from people who have been there and done that. If you have 1000 words in you, you could be one of them. It’s also great exposure.
Do they pay? Yes, $40 for a published piece.
33. Writers Weekly
Who are they? A popular website for writers, by writers (hey, that sounds familiar). It’s filled to the brim with handy tips and guides for writers of all experiences and pedigrees – there’s bound to be something on there that can take your work to the next level. You could probably help someone out by imparting your wisdom and getting paid for it, too.
Do they pay? How does $60 for about 600 words sound?
34. Write Naked
Who are they? Probably not naturists. What they absolutely are, though, is a hugely helpful resource for writers as the website is filled with anecdotes and guides from established names in the literature world. They also love interviews and discussions about freelance writing.
Do they pay? Yes, but you might want to put the extra effort into writing something extraordinary. The editor will pay $200 for exemplary pieces.
Who are they? Proud geeks. Techopedia loves publishing anything to do with the world of tech, whether it’s an in-depth guide or an opinion piece. You might have to be well-versed in many fields to be able to competently write for them, but you’re a writer. Research is what you do.
Do they pay? Yep, and they’re proud of it. Expect $50 to $150 for your published work.
Who are they? A website dedicated to the arts and those that inhabit the theater scene. They publish a wide range of differently themed content, but with a strong opinion and facts to back up your words, you could go quite far with HowlRound.
Do they pay? Yup. $50 for 750-2000 of your fine words.
Who are they? A very successful technology blog that has been around since 2007. They’re always on-the-ball with news and welcome submissions covering a range of different topics, but your best bet is to stick to design guides and recommendations.
Do they pay? Not specified.
38. The Daily Spectacle
Who are they? Defenders of the arts. If you’re a fan of anything to do with film, TV, politics or anything within a similar category, you’re in luck. This is probably the smallest website on the list, but it looks like it’s going places – the content is great and the editorial team seem to be passionate, which is exactly what you need.
Do they pay? Not yet.
39. Screen Rant
Who are they? A massively popular pop culture website with a huge following on social media. If you’re trying to become a journalist capable of turning over breaking news stories as quick as the idea lands in your inbox, Screen Rant is one of the best places to start.
Do they pay? Yes, but payment rates are unclear.
40. Examiner – Now Defunct
Who are they? A reputable name within the entertainment circles, Examiner brings its content to millions of people each month. If you think you might be able to cope with a huge amount of people potentially reading your work, they’re welcoming submissions from just about anyone.
Do they pay? Possibly, but it’s implied it’s voluntary.
Who are they? The thinking man’s comedy website. Cracked started life as a decent magazine but have become an even better website, offering listicles with word counts that would make your typing fingers tremble. If you have a crazy theory about the newest superhero movie that you can turn into thousands of words, Cracked has to be one of the best places for you.
Do they pay? “We will pay you if it’s good.”
42. College Humor
Who are they? Probably the biggest comedy website out there. They’re constantly posting lists, whether they’re funny or not, and can help you to collaborate with artists to really bring your content to life. They’re pretty selective about who they accept to write for them, though – I applied to write for them a while ago and didn’t hear anything back, which is odd because I am hilarious.
Do they pay? Varies, but the maximum you can earn is $100.
Who are they? The slightly less socially acceptable sister site to College Humor. Only nerds need apply; if you don’t know your Pac-man from your Tetris, you might not be a good fit for them. If you’re an out-and-out nerd, writing for Dorkly will put you in touch with an awesome, unforgiving community of millions.
Do they pay? $35 for a single-page article, $75 for multi-page.
Who are they? The British Cracked. They haven’t been around for all that long, but they have the talent and community to become one of the world’s biggest websites and they certainly aren’t far off joining the elite, either. They cover everything from the world of pop culture with their list articles performing the best out of the hundreds of different things they publish each week.
Do they pay? Yes, on a views basis.
Who are they? A titan of the list world that never seems to run out of content ideas. You name it, they will make a list out of it, but they expect nothing but quality on whatever topic you’re covering, whether it’s the best cheese in Holland or the worst impersonations of Sylvester Stallone. Go for a minimum of 1500 words and reap the rewards.
Do they pay? Really well. $150 for your hard work.
46. The Richest
Who are they? Suppliers of all the lists one person could ever need. The Richest have an impressive scope of topics they cover, which means that it’s highly likely there will be something for you to write about. Their contributor program is a little complicated, but if you can stick to it, you can earn some decent money.
Do they pay? Half a dollar per every 1000 views.
47. Top Tenz
Who are they? Obsessed with the bizarre, unknown, and obscure, Top Tenz is another list-based website with a big audience. One of their most popular articles has close to 50 million views, which isn’t too bad at all. There’s no guarantee that you will hit those figures with your own listicle, but who’s to say you won’t come close?
Do they pay? $50
48. The Sportster
Who are they? A sports-centric listicle website with a lot of content to give to pro wrestling fans. Thinking of submitting to them? You better go back and start watching some Royal Rumbles because wrestling lists are the bread and butter for these guys.
Do they pay? Yes, on a views basis.
Who are they? A huge community of individuals all looking for ways to make life easier. The content on the website is predominantly to help and inform, so if there’s anything you know about that someone else might not, share your wisdom and reach a massive audience.
Do they pay? Unclear.
Who are they? Come on. You know BuzzFeed. Writing for their community section is a pretty surefire way of getting your list read by a limitless audience.
Do they pay? Nope.
There you have them: fifty awesome websites that are looking for your writing submissions. As mentioned, it obviously isn’t comprehensive, but it’s a good mixture of big names and upcoming publications you should be keeping an eye out for. If you’re an editor or publisher and your website didn’t make the cut, you are welcome to leave a comment below.
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