Filler Fun – Get Paid To Write Short Fillers For Magazines And Newspapers

At whatever stage you may be in your writing career if you need a kick start to get you motivated writing fillers can give you a real boost. Not only do you stand a good chance of seeing your name in print but often the rate per word is better than you may receive elsewhere. Once disregarded by writing books and tutors, today writing filler items is often promoted as a way to hone skills such as editing and get the creative juices flowing.

If you thought fillers were simply reader letters and tips think again. There are outlets for flash fiction, poetry, rants and opinions, travel writing and longer pieces up a 1000 words in length and the range of publications seeking such material is as wide as the market itself. Many publications now actively seek the input of readers and if you can take a photograph as well your rewards may be more than doubled.

Where to find outlets.

Market research is just as important for submitting fillers as for longer pieces. Start with publications you may have to hand, including trade titles, newspapers and freebies, and check to see where reader participation is required. Do they need book or music reviews, people to test out products and review them or is there a regular slot reserved for reader participation? Note the title and requirements, keeping a copy to hand for reference, and move on to the next.

Once you have exhausted your personal selection ask friends and relatives if they can pass on or lend recent copies of other titles they have and don’t forget opportunities such as larger libraries and those hours spent in waiting rooms. Doing a bit of market research can help the time to pass.

Newspapers do not usually pay for letters but some, especially the weekend editions, have slots for readers to contribute so search carefully in the travel and motoring sections or on the lifestyle pages.

NB It is important to use up to date material for research and to repeat the exercise at intervals. Requirements change as do editors, contact details and so on. Don’t waste your time on defunct titles or discontinued slots.

Letters and tips

This is often the starting point for filler writing. Today many titles like to have photographs with their letters and especially with the tips. A digital camera makes this relatively easy and with the increase in rewards worth the effort. With many titles allowing you to email submissions this is cost free. A few, such as Take a Break, even let you know if an item will be used. If not you can submit it elsewhere although probably best to tweak the words a little first. Original work only is considered and with personnel moving around your item could be recognised although unlikely. If you are not told an item has been rejected best to leave six months before resubmitting elsewhere.

Make sure you only send the type of letter they print. Not all TV titles print TV comments. Many magazines only use items commenting on material from previous issues or suggesting ideas for the magazine. Check to see if letters and tips are paid for or if there is some other reward. In many instances only the star letter is rewarded and some offer no reward at all. Check the length of published contributions. Some magazines want to fit in as many letters as possible so print only very short letters. Editors usually reserve the right to edit for length but if your contribution is already pared to the bone it saves the editor work, increasing its appeal.


Wherever you have been on holiday there is always scope for writing, especially if you have photographs too. Yours magazine offers a Travels on Test opening for a 300 word feature accompanied by photographs, at least one of which must include the contributor whilst Prima wants Holiday Memories in the form of a photograph with caption. The Daily Telegraph offers £200 for its “Just Back” Travel Section feature. Although generally for travel overseas UK stories have been selected, too.

Rants and opinions

Not such a popular choice these days. The Lady’s Viewpoint has long gone although they now have a slot called The Lady and I for a 350 word story about you related to reading The Lady. The Oldie has a regular Rant slot of around 300 words. If you have a gardening related issue consider the Soapbox feature in Gardeners’ World Magazine.

Poetry and short fiction.

Very short stories have been popular for a while with requests for 50 -100 word stories and it can be a challenge to keep to the word count. Real Magazine asks for a story in 60 words or less. Be careful, some rules require you have the exact word count whilst others state a maximum.

Poetry used to be common on the letters page of magazines and one still using poetry is Prima for their Month in Verse item.

Hobby or work related material

Specialist magazines may require book or product reviewers from suitably qualified readers. Others may use Reader’s own stories. Gardeners’ World uses garden make-over stories accompanied by before and after photographs for example.  A few magazines even reward a selection of questions to the experts. Amateur Gardening has done this and Writers Forum awards a book for their prize letter query on writing to “Dear Della.” In addition to a letters page for comments on the magazine Writers Forum has the “First Draft” feature, a sort of reverse editing exercise where a reader adds twenty errors to a published passage and the opportunity to send news features for a possible magazine subscription.

Magazines with a number of filler opportunities

Some magazines rely heavily on reader contributions.

Best of British

The magazine looks for personal stories from the 30s up to the 70s and in some instances even into the 80s, such is the changing nature of life today. Their website carries guidelines and suggestions for requirements whilst requests for follow-up stories to published articles often appear at the end of features. NB The Postbag feature does not pay although sending your own account to the Yesterday Remembered slot qualifies for the £20 fee for up to 1000 words.


Besides their Meeting Place letters pages and Travel on Test features they are looking for When I was Young – stories of up to 1000 words on a special event in your life, Fashions We Wore – photograph with caption, Senior Moment and Small Talk contributions and I Followed My Dream – a story up to 200 words.


Prima have a number of openings with £25 reward. These include Gardening Hints, Craft Notes, Reader’s Kitchen (recipe) as well as letters and tips. There is also a What’s It Worth slot for readers to submit photos of old items for valuation, the most expensive featured each issue being awarded £50.

The examples given are but the tip of the iceberg. Once you start to look the opportunities are everywhere and someone has to supply the material so why not you. Instead of boring the family write it down and send it off. Why not aim to send out at least one item a month? The more you exercise the writing muscle the stronger it gets and from these small beginnings hopefully bigger things may grow. Indeed, I have turned former letters into articles with just a bit more research so give it a go.

Written by Ann Williams (Wordsmith)

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Article by wordsmith

A contributor of largely illustrated articles to a range of national and local magazines on topics ranging from parentcraft and lifestyle matters to nostalgia and social history.
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