Q: I’ve been asked to write a filler for a magazine, but I’m not sure what a ‘filler’ is. It doesn’t sound very glamorous, can you explain what it is and what I need to do?
A: A filler is a short paragraph of information used to ‘fill’ a gap in a magazine or newsletter. It can be a very lucrative sideline for a freelance writer. Although it may seem like a small way to get published, think of it this way: You become a published writer, and magazines, TV, and radio can pay anything from $5 to $50 for half an hours work. Compare that to spending hours, or even days, researching and writing a query letter for an article just to be rejected.
For ideas for fillers, just look around you. Shop windows, newspaper adverts, signs, passing vehicles are all sources of inspiration. Listen to conversations when you’re stuck on the bus or in a queue in your local store, you’ll be surprised how much you pick up once you train your mind to focus on things going on around you. Always take a notebook out with you and jot down details of things as they happen so you don’t forget them later. For example, I was driving home one day and passed a local farm. On their gatepost was a sign advertising their businesses. Instead of reading ‘Furniture stripping & Potatoes’, it read ‘Furniture stripping potatoes’. Yuck!! Would you eat them? It took me less than a minute to write down, ten minutes to type up a filler about a ‘new decorating aid’, and I got paid $15 for it (around £7.50). Not bad, considering I was going about my daily business when I spotted it.
Now, time to do the math. Ten minutes divided by $15 payment equals $1.50 (76p) per minute. Now times the $1.50 by 60 minutes and it equals $90 (about £46) an hour! Where else can you earn that kind of money?
Write your filler and be proud of your achievement.