Link to this page

6 Types of Articles New Freelancers Can Get Paid to Write

Award-winning writer Kathy Widenhouse has helped hundreds of nonprofits and writers produce successful content and has gained 600K+ views for her writing tutorials. She is the author of 9 books. See more of Kathy’s content here.

If you’re a new freelancer and want to break into print, there are plenty of types of articles that you can get paid to write.

Writing articles offers a natural entry point into the freelancing business. Magazines, trade publications, and websites routinely need content from freelancers. But you may be confused by all of the article writing options, particularly if you’re just starting out, so let me clarify.

6 types of articles new #freelancers can get paid to write with Word Wise at Nonprofit Copywriter #FreelanceWriting #WritingTips

3 types of articles not to pitch first

1. News articles

When it comes to starting out as a freelancer, I’m not talking about writing straight news articles. Journalists cover breaking local stories, political news, sports scores, and business reports for newspapers and blogs. Investigative reporters, too, are typically employed by larger news sources to research exposes and uncover truths about a person, event, or subject.

2. Scholarly articles

Nor am I talking about the many different types of scholarly articles written by professionals in specialized fields. Scholarly articles may take the form of original research, clinical case studies, methodologies, and peer-reviewed analysis. They are published in professional journals like the American Journal of Preventative Medicine or Urban Law Review.

3. Opinion pieces

Other types of articles that you hear about? Opinion pieces, essays, columns, and editorials are often open to freelancers. However, these types of articles are typically assigned to more seasoned writers who have an established track record, a relationship with the editor, or who present an editor with a stable of clips.

Writing columns and opinion pieces and essays becomes the “chicken-or-egg” syndrome. You need clips and experience to get an editor to look at your pitch. Yet how can you become an experienced freelance writer without getting a few nods from editors?

Never fear. There are at least six other types of articles that freelancers are most apt to get hired to write for publication, particularly when starting out. They’re the types of articles that publications need to fill their pages. The types of articles that earn you bylines, cash, and clips. The types of articles that help establish you in your niche. Try pitching these types of articles to editors and publishers.

6 types of articles to pitch when you’re starting out

1. Informational articles

The purpose of an informational article is to share knowledge with the reader. It’s a foundational type of article that focuses on a specific subject.

While any topic is fair game, a good informational article offers facts, data, statistics, expert sources, and anecdotes to address one laser-focused element of the topic. That means you need to do some research and accumulate base knowledge about your topic so you can identify a unique angle on that subject. That unique angle or slant to your article is what sells it.

National Geographic, for instance, publishes informational articles about nature and culture. Yet a successful article for Nat Geo (or other nature publication) won’t simply address rivers.

You need to drill down that generalized topic to a specific slant or angle. Rivers that run through deserts? That’s still too broad. A better slant may be an article on a little-known river that runs through a desert. Best yet? An informational article that profiles the kinds of wildlife that live along the Amargosa River Basin in the Mojave Desert. Now, that’s a laser-focused angle.

2. Feature articles

A feature article is an informational article that goes a step further. A feature explains the information’s significance. It dishes up information using a previously-unseen viewpoint … an odd twist … a surprising trend …. an offbeat slant … a heartwarming perspective.

Human interest, inspiration, personal experience/first-person, humor/satire — even historical subjects — are feature fodder. Key to good features are an easy-to-read style, sensory details, and dialogue. Plus, they give the reader a turning point, a discovery, or a takeaway.

A straight-up informational article, for instance, may explain specific safety skills that parents must teach their children while they’re in public places. A feature article, on the other hand, may open with “I had to teach my strong-willed child to rebel the right way,” and close with “My kid questioned a stranger’s authority. And because he acquired those skills, he skirted danger and today is safe.”

The feature’s twist? A parent’s first-person experience converting her child’s strong will into safety skills.

3. How-To articles

One of the most durable types of articles you can write, a how-to article provides step-by-step instructions to help your reader complete a task. How-tos are logical and sequential.

You can write one on nearly any topic: how to plant a window box. How to change the air filter in your Honda Civic LX. How to successfully apply to veterinary assistant school. Or, as an alternative to the above informational article or feature article, how to teach your kids to say no to strangers.

How-tos may be called self-help articles when that explain how to accomplish intangibles like, “How to be content living on a shoestring.”

4. Profiles

A profile article is a feature article that focuses on an individual person. But it’s not simple biography or news update. Instead, a profile pinpoints a special trait, characteristic, newsworthy accomplishment, or distinction in that individual. 

It’s up to the writer to identify that unique twist. Using our example, your profile article could be titled, “The Taekwondo Mom” and profile a parent who is an accountant, but on the side trains youth to defend themselves. A profile can be constructed as a narrative or Q and A format. 

5. Reviews

Publications routinely publish reviews for books, restaurants, retail products, movies, and travel destinations.

A review offers two things.

  • It provides factual information about the product or destination under review. 
  • It offers the user’s experience to give an informed opinion.

Reviews may also be rounds ups, like “5 Best Hand-Held Can Openers” or “6 Kinds of Martial Arts to Teach Young Girls.”  If you stay abreast with the latest photography gear or you’re an avid dystopian gamer, for instance, then you may find a lucrative niche in writing reviews

6. Shorts

Also called a filler, a short is usually about 100–500 words. Content runs the gamut from anecdotes to tips, recipes, how-tos, devotionals, jokes, news bites, household hints, images with captions, quizzes, top 10 lists, statistics, quotations, quirky facts.

In the past when print reigned, publications used shorts to fill in a column’s leftover space. Today, shorts can be part of a news round-up or may stand alone, given readers’ shortened attention spans.

Freelancer? Increase your chances of publication by starting with these commonly outsourced articles. Do a good job and you’ll find that editors are most welcoming … whether you’re a new writer or a seasoned one.

More Article Writing Tips

How to Write An Article: Get Started With These 12 Steps ...

What Is a Feature Article? Think News Story on Steroids ...

Want Steady Traffic? Write 3 Different Types of Articles that Deliver ...

12 Tips for Successful Interviewing ...

Choose a Story Angle Using These 3 Tips ...

Article Writing Tips: News Story vs Feature Story – What’s the Difference?

How to Write a How To Article that gets read from start to finish ...

Write an Article or Write a Book? Here’s How to Decide ...

Writing Blogs vs. Writing Articles: Is There a Difference?

Writing Articles Tips on our Pinterest board ...

Return from 6 Types of Articles New Freelancers Can Get Paid to Write 
to Nonprofit Copywriter home

As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases.

Powered by SBI! Learn more here.
Enjoy this page? Please pay it forward. Here's how...

Would you prefer to share this page with others by linking to it?

  1. Click on the HTML link code below.
  2. Copy and paste it, adding a note of your own, into your blog, a Web page, forums, a blog comment, your Facebook account, or anywhere that someone would find this page valuable.

Search This Site

Share This Page


Named to 2022 Writer's Digest list

Get Free Writing Tips

Stop Wasting Time!

Grab your exclusive FREE guide, "5 Simple Writing Tips You Can Put to Use in 10 Minutes or Less"

XML RSSSubscribe To This Site
  • follow us in feedly
  • Add to My Yahoo!