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The market for articles is much bigger than people think, because most publications that carry them have small audiences. But those little publications can pay just as well as the big ones, so it's worth knowing about the whole range of opportunities. One hidden market for articles is in publications produced by organizations and read only by their members. Most such publications are small, but some are astonishingly huge. In fact the magazine with the largest circulation in the United States is AARP the Magazine, which is sent to 22 million members of the American Association of Retired Persons. That's bigger than Reader's Digest, People, Time, Sports Illustrated, and TV Guide put together.
Another market is limited- circulation publications. These are the ones distributed to specific audiences but not sold directly to the general public. Airline magazines fall into this category and again, their circulations can be really impressive. The monthly magazine for Southwest Airlines has a circulation of about half a million. One market where I have personally done well is with corporations who need articles to promote their ideas and products. Your article might appear on their website and in other company publications, or it's possible that the company's PR department might arrange for it to appear in a mainstream publication.
That's what's sometimes called a contributed article, and that's the type of article you'll find is the example for this course. Another market for articles is found in internal publications, such as employee newsletters. Again, it's a big market. There are about a thousand companies in the United States with over 10,000 employees each. If you have connections within the big enterprise, consider talking to your contacts there to learn about, or even create, opportunities for writing. Finally, there are the mainstream publications, the ones you see on newsstand shelves. But the competition is fierce and in my experience the pay often isn't as good as for the less famous outlets.
Fame versus money is generally the trade-off you'll make when writing articles. I found that some of the best paying gigs have been for pieces that didn't even have my name on them or that were read only by a small audience. Now, some writers are afraid that they lack of specialized knowledge to write for those nonmainstream publications, but the important thing is that you can collect and convey information in the way that they need it. You really don't need to be an expert. I'll talk more about how to research unfamiliar subjects later in this course.
Now that you know where the markets are, I'll tell you how to connect with them and how to get started on your first assignment.
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