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Top 10 Ways to Make Money from my Story using the national press

Top 10 tips to Make Money from my Story but selling it to the national press. Learn how to sell stories to newspapers, magazines and television companies.

Independent advice from who are part of SWNS, the UK’s largest and most established press agency.  With over 50 years at the top, here are our 10 top tips to selling a story to the newspapers, magazines and television companies.


1) Make Money from my Story using a press agency

Sell my story to the press: Press agencies (like ours) will consider any story from your life that would make a good magazine article or news feature.

Most press agencies do exactly the same job, so will offer you the same amount of money.  However, you can only sell your story with one agency (nobody will pay you if your story is not exclusive).

You’ll get paid between £50 and £2,000 depending on the strength of the story.  We’ll consider all ideas, from relationship stories, to medical dramas, or funny pet stories to crimes committed against you.  Obviously you’ll get more for something extreme or particularly sensitive, but you can easily make £250 for a funny pet story or something quirky.

Just remember, your story needs to be 1) True, 2) Recent, 3) Have real names / pictures.  For a full list of press agencies, just type sell my story into Google and see who comes up.  Do your research though – some press agencies are established businesses with global reach, multiple offices and hundreds of staff (like us!) whilst some are just one person sat at home with little experience or know how.  Do your research.

TOP TIP: If you choose to sell your story through an agency, only send it to one agency.  You will not earn more from sending it to lots of people, quite the opposite.  The big money is paid for exclusivity – if lots of others have seen it, they’ll be put off.


2) Make Money from my Story by being a case study

You can make money from newspapers by giving your opinion or being a case study.

Most press agencies have a press request page.  Ours is:  Just visit this page on a regular basis to see what we’re looking for.  We usually update this page on a daily or weekly basis depending on how slow the newsroom is on that particular day.

The news agenda is fairly cyclical, so keep an eye out; even if there is no interest in your story today, it may be related to a breaking news story tomorrow.

TOP TIP – Even if you can’t find a buyer for your story, if you keep an eye on what we’re looking for each day, you can volunteer for anything that is related to your story.


3) Make Money from my Story using photos and videos

Pictures paint a thousand words, so it’s no surprise that many stories are sold on the basis of the pictures available.  Think about it – magazines pay the most for stories, and when was the last time you saw a magazine story without any images?  Answer: Never.

These days you can make a lot of money from video clips too.  At SWNS we have our own TV channel and we can sell your video to the national press as well as using it to take still images for the papers and magazines.  Some images drive the story, so why not send us any amazing pictures you’ve taken and we’ll turn it into a story and release it for you?

Making sure you’ve got pictures relevant to a story will ensure you maximize the story income.

TOP TIP: Most people have cameras on their mobile phones these days.  If you capture anything interesting from a misbehaving mum to a natural disaster, you can make money from sending it to us.  Just email it to: together with your contact details.  We’ll let you know if we can use it and what it’s worth – and you’ll make money every time it is used by a newspaper.

If you happen to be first on the scene, or you’ve managed to covertly film something interesting, or you just happen to have taken an amazing picture, send it in today before someone else beats you to it.


4) Make Money from my Story by Hooking it to a recent news, soap, or celebrity story

Sometimes television shows such as soaps, recent events and celebrity lives can set the news agenda.  If you’ve got a story related to it, now is the time to approach the press.

Whatever you do, don’t delay – you’ll need to put your story out there within a day of the celebrity or soap story breaking, otherwise it will be old news and you’ll struggle so sell your story.

TOP TIP: Be fast.  News agendas move quickly so you’ll need to contact a press agency (such as ours!) the second you see it.  Newspapers and magazines move on quickly so don’t miss the boat.  We’d need to put your story out there within a day of the soap or celebrity story happening.


5) Make Money from my Story by thinking outside of the box

You don’t need to have a scandal or sensational story to make money from the press.  The real life market is looking for everyday people who have everyday stories, issues and experiences.  However, it’s important to make it interesting to the reader by using a attention grabbing headline.

A good example is that we ran a story for a lady who suffered from post natal depression.  She was keen to raise awareness about this common condition that affects millions of women, but isn’t discussed enough.  Rather than use the headline ‘I have PND’ we used ‘I hate my baby’.  You may think this is somewhat crass, but it grabbed people attention and made them read the article, which ultimately helped raise awareness of the issue and helped people in a similar situation.

TOP TIP: Consider how you can put an interesting spin on an ordinary story. If you read women’s magazines it will give you a good guide to what we’re after.


6) Sell another person’s story, or sell my story by finding similar case studies

We pay a minimum of £50 for tip-offs about breaking news stories or anything that would make an interesting magazine article.  Your tip-off can be anonymous or can simply be a friend referral.

To inform us about a story, simply fill out the contact form on any page of our website and specify that you are referring someone else, and whether you’d like to remain anonymous.

Sometimes a story may not be strong enough to make the papers or magazines on its own.  However, sometimes you may see a ‘composite’ article which features a handful of people with the same or similar story (for example: ‘We’ve all got crazy phobias’).  Why not try and find some people with similar stories to you and approach a press agency together?

TOP TIP: Talk to everyone you know, use social media and search charities, websites and blogs to find people with similar stories.


7) Don’t just Make Money from my Story; work as a part-time story finder

If you have what it takes to uncover true, interesting and newsworthy stories on a regular basis, we can pay you for each one that you find.  We fill the pages of the national newspapers everyday so we’re always looking for news stories.  We work with many story finders; all you need is to have the knack of finding stories that haven’t been printed yet and send us each idea using the quick submission form on our website.  If you are a regular contributor, we’ll set you up with a freelancer account at SWNS.

TOP TIP: One of our best story finders is a hairdresser who owns her own salon in Somerset.  Kirsty speaks to so many people who have interesting stories to tell and asks them if they’d be interested in being put in touch with us.

Kirsty says “Everyone I meet has stories to tell, and it’s not always the ones they assume that magazines will be interested in that get them in a magazine.  It’s all about listening to people and having a feel for what the mags are after.”

“People love sharing their stories, and putting them in touch with SellUsYourStory is great for me; sometimes I earn more in a month working with them than I do in the salon.  Last year it paid for my holiday!”


8) Make Money from my Story by Making it Sensational

It goes without saying that nobody wants to read a boring story.

Many people who want to make money from selling their story to the press are not prepared to reveal all the details, or are worried about what others will think of them.

Sadly, a boring story will not be printed so be prepared to tell all and put yourself out there.  Today’s news is tomorrow’s fish & chip paper – meaning that people forget about stories rather quickly so generally appearing in the press is nothing to worry about.  In our experience, friends and family love seeing your story in print – it’s only the anonymous trolls commenting on news websites who have negative things to say (and they have negative things to say about every situation). In addition, your story can help those in a similar situation, or if it’s a funny story it can just provide a bit of a laugh for your friends.

TOP TIP: You won’t sell a story if you’re also trying to make it as soft as possible.  Even if it does sell, you’ll get the minimum amount rather than the maximum amount for selling it.  Make it sensational and maximise what you’re offered for your story.


9) Sell my story by Working the Numbers (maximise to the extreme, or reduce to the ridiculous)

In the press we use a useful numbers trick of maximising to the extreme or reducing to the ridiculous.   In short, this means use any numbers in your story to grab headlines.

For example, if you’re addicted to painkillers and you take 16 per day, although it’s clearly a problem, it’s not attention grabbing.  If you said you ate  5,840 pain killers a year, it seems much more shocking.  That’s maximising to the extreme!

Furthermore, if you add a financial aspect it can also be shocking.  If you consider that each pack of 16 painkillers cost £2.50, so each pill cost 16p, then doing the maths will tell you that you’d eat almost £1,000 worth of painkillers in a year.

OK, what about reducing to the ridiculous?  You often see this at times of benefits cuts.  Say that benefits have been cut to £500 per month.  A journalist might work out what their rent and utility bills are (say £400 per month on average) and then work out what they have left per day for food and clothing.  So £3.29 per day for food and clothing sounds a lot less than £500 per month right?

TOP TIP: Editors and journalists are like the rest of us, they sometimes don’t see the merit of a story straight away.  Spell it out for them – maximise your figures to the extreme or minimise them to the ridiculous.  Make your story headline grabbing.


10) Keep it real!  Someone will be interested in my story

Contrary to belief, your story doesn’t have to be about some life-changing event.  As we’ve said previously – magazines are looking for real people with real stories that could happen to anybody.  Yes you may need to put an interesting spin on it to grab people’s attention, but magazines love funny stories, relationship stories, pet stories etc, etc.

TOP TIP: Whatever you do, don’t make your story up.  Stick to the truth.


Sell My Story to National Magazines & Newspapers
Sell My Story to National Magazines & Newspapers

DOs and DON’Ts

* Do send us stories that have not been used before.

* Don’t send us stories that you have already sold to other agencies or newspapers.

* Do send us true stories.

* Don’t send us made up stories or incidents that happened many years ago and don’t have a relevant update.

* Do send us pictures and videos that you own (you’ve taken).

* Don’t send us pictures that you’ve found on the internet or copied from elsewhere.

* Do tell us about other people who may have a story – we can pay you a tip-off fee.  Everyone has friends, family and colleagues who have interesting stories to share.

* Don’t be put off dealing with the press because of some negative stories about journalists – SellUsYourStory is part of SWNS, the largest and most trusted press agency in the UK.  We never print anything without your consent.

* Do make money from the press.


We hope these tips are useful, but please don’t hesitate to get in touch if you’d like more info.  You can also find much more information about SWNS on our About Us page:  

If you’d like to read more about media regulation and what stories we can and cannot publish, please take a look at the following WikiPedia page:

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