The 5 Components of $1,000 Articles

Insights from analyzing my best-performing and selling articles

Jun Wu
Jun Wu
Apr 3 · 4 min read
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Photo by Sara Deis on Unsplash

One thousand dollar articles are the ones that every professional writer aims to sell. This often means that you’re paid $1 or more per word. The norm of this type of pay comes from working with big clients or working with big publications.

When you’re starting as a writer, you’re more likely to sell an article to a big publication for $1,000 than to gain a client that pays $1 per word consistently.

I began my writing career on Medium last year. My first $1,000 article was one that was distributed by Medium in one of their partnered publications.

Then, in the next few months, I sold a few articles for $350 a piece. Slowly, after a few months, I sold articles for $750 a piece.

The slow ramp-up isn’t uncommon. You need inspiration to write $1,000 articles. The quality of these articles is very different. You’re telling stories in these articles. If you put out eBooks of these articles, people will buy them.

After reading many articles in big publications such as the Atlantic, the New York Times, and other publications that will pay $500 to $1,000 for a feature article, I worked out the anatomy of a $1,000 article.

Before I dive into the anatomy in this article, let me assure you that you’ll need the following tools to write this article:

  1. Space in your life to work on the article — from 10 hours to 40 hours, including research and interviews.
  2. Space in your life to fail — for every good story, 10 will fail and you’ll be able to sell one for $1,000.
  3. Grit at seeing the research through.
  4. Be prepared for the unexpected, not every story has a happy ending.
  5. Sense of humor — you need it to write, you need it to persevere through the process.

A Good Story

No matter what you write about, the topic is always the key. You have to pick a topic and a story that will both resonate with and engage the reader. It has to be something no one is talking about.

You have to find a unique angle to a story that everyone’s concerned about, or you have to find a story that needs to be urgently told.

Engaging Writing

You can write about the most convoluted topic in technology and still formulate it into a gripping read for your readers. This means that you use sarcasm, humor, shock-value, etc. Use whatever writing tools you have at your disposal to reveal the true essence of the story.

This also means that you need to know who the readers of your article are and speak to them in a way that they will listen.

Often, personal experiences are very powerful and engaging.

Insights, Insights, and Insights

I can’t emphasize this point enough. The highest quality of writing that’s worthy of $1 a word is one that truly shows the reader the way. When the reader saves this article for sharing and future reads, this article then becomes a seed that’s planted.

For features that you sell to publications for that amount of money, you can expect other journalists to quickly cover the topic that you just wrote about right after to capture the media attention.

It’s a huge ego boost to start a conversation, not just the money that you earn.

Caring, Empathy, and Relatability

You need to care about the subjects that you write about. I never pick a topic that’s outside my comfort zone because I’m limited in the subjects that I’m truly passionate about. I stick to my passions and so should you.

Ultimately, when readers read your stories, they’ll immediately sense whether or not you care about them. Good writing takes your audience into account and seeks to do the audience justice.

How much value am I going to provide you in the 10 minutes that you just spent reading my article?

If you ask this question each time you write an article, then you will sell $1,000 articles in no time.

This also goes for pitches. If you pitch stories to publications, editors can gauge whether you care for the topic from your pitches.

You want to truly write about the things that you care about.

The Magic Ingredient

After each high-quality story that I write, I often sit there reading it from the point of view of the person who might want to buy the story. Why do I want to buy this story over others? What is it about this story that helps the publication?

You need to determine the magic ingredient in your story. Is it the complementary graphics that speak to the audience? Is it the voice of the article that’s engaging? Is it the storyline that’s unique? Is it the perfect editing that makes the article stand out?

Every single article has a magic ingredient. As a writer who is trying to market yourself, you should be zooming in on this magic ingredient. Market your article by marketing this ingredient.

So, here’s the thing about $1,000 articles. I’ve read all flavors of articles that come under this umbrella. There are shortcuts that will compensate for quality in a language, such as unique perspectives on viral topics, unique stories, etc. But, as a writer, these aren’t things that I can count on.

When I work on $1,000 articles, I try to rely on concrete things that will help my article stand out. This includes thorough research, extensive revision, targeting an audience, etc.

In the end, when you write $1,000 articles, you’re not writing for the money. You’re writing because you must write about the topic. You’re writing because the story must be told.

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Thanks to Niklas Göke

Jun Wu

Written by

Jun Wu

Writer, Technologist: Tech|Future|Leadership (Forbes-AI, Behind the Code)

Better Marketing

Marketing advice and case studies to help you market ethically, authentically, and effectively.

Jun Wu

Written by

Jun Wu

Writer, Technologist: Tech|Future|Leadership (Forbes-AI, Behind the Code)

Better Marketing

Marketing advice and case studies to help you market ethically, authentically, and effectively.

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