I thought I was a model writer; after all, I had lots of articles published, and I thought I was pretty well-rounded. I'd published in consumer magazines, trade magazines, newspapers, and e-zines. Wasn't that the whole gamut?
When was the last time you sat down and thought to yourself, "Boy, I should write a doormat today"? Or, "Today, I feel inspired to write a magnet"?
Short-form writing is a great way to make some extra cash without committing yourself to long stretches of time at the keyboard. It's an excellent venue when you're between projects or need a break from researching and writing lengthier pieces.
First, consult your trusty Writer's Market, which has an entire section for "Greeting Cards & Gift Ideas." You'll find listings for companies that buy slogans for posters, t-shirts, aprons, doormats, key chains, novelty buttons, magnets, plaques, and more.
But don't stop there. I found far, far more possible markets on the Internet. Try typing "novelties" into any search engine, and see how many manufacturers you can find.
But that's not all, folks! Go ahead; search your favorite engine. Make sure you're looking for manufacturers and wholesalers, rather than distributors (distributors don't usually make the products themselves, therefore they don't need writers!).
Try combinations of these keywords: wholesale, buttons, stickers, t-shirts, slogans, writers' guidelines, posters, greeting cards, manufacturers, novelty, plaques, t-shirts, magnets, bumper stickers, mugs, and calendars. You'll sift through many inappropriate sites, but you also may uncover companies that aren't listed in writers' directories and therefore aren't inundated with submissions. These companies are much more likely to buy your ideas!
And next time you're in a gift store, bring your notebook. Look on the bottom of posters, the back of greeting cards, and in the "fine print" of t-shirts and other products. The manufacturer's name will usually appear somewhere; check for copyright signs. If the store manager is friendly, you might even shmooze some information about manufacturers out of him or her.
Each company has its own style. You'll find that certain products (like buttons, magnets, bumper stickers and t-shirts) are almost solely a humor market, whereas others (calendars, plaques, posters, greeting cards) also delve into inspirational, poetic, and dramatic messages. Some are R-rated, some are Christian, some are geared toward teens, and some are political. It's very important to pay attention to each company's product line. It will be completely pointless to submit your risque slogans to a company that only produces inspirational posters.
Most companies want to see about ten slogan ideas typed out on a single page with your name and address. If a company does not explicitly state that it accepts freelance submissions, drop a quick note telling them that you're interested in submitting your ideas and would like to know if they hire freelance writers. If so, ask if guidelines (including pay rates) are available.
And, speaking of pay rates, how do these markets stack up?
Per word and per hour, the rate is fantastic. I just sold a 10 word apron slogan for $150. That's $15 a word!
However, most companies buy all rights, at least in their particular market. And it isn't the kind of writing you can "force." You'd have to come up with a few winning slogans every day to make a good daily wage, and it's exhausting trying to be that clever every day!
Most short-form writing pays $30 to $300. It's not "career money" for most writers, but it's a fun way to make some extra cash. So expand your writing horizons today and start selling those slogans!
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