How To Write For The Modern Rogue (And Get Paid)

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by Dwayne Hoover

I have good news for you: If you’re reading this, I’m pretty sure you have what it takes to write for The Modern Rogue. We’ve published dozens of freelancers, many without any prior writing experience, and then paid them for their work. And as the guy who helps shape the articles that make their way to the front page, I have to say, it’s a fairly badass process to watch unfold.

Here, I lay out exactly how to do it. It’s sort of like a basic instruction manual on how to get paid for coming up with killer ideas, researching and learning new things, then morphing that into something thousands of people will love. Plus, we get to throw jokes in, so people are entertained while absorbing new information.

So whether you’re an established or aspiring writer looking for something fun, read on. I’ll show you how to put some cash in your pocket while doing what you probably already want to do anyway.


Step One: Sign Up For Our Writers’ Workshop

The way we transform ideas into something publishable is by running everything through our writers’ workshop. You have to sign up for an account, which may involve an emailed activation link because spambots are dicks.

From there, it’s simply a matter of reading a few very crucial threads, like our (extremely important) rules, instructions for pitching, and probably my tips for creating the best possible pitch. None of them are novellas are anything, so you should be able to get a feel for what we’re looking for and how we expect you to operate in no time.

It’s all pretty straight-forward and laid-back, but of course, you’re always welcome to hit me up with any questions that arise. That’s my job: to help you get published.

Step Two: Get A PayPal Account

The long and short of it is that it’s 2018, so we’re not going to mail you a freaking check. We pay electronically, strictly through PayPal, so if you don’t have one already you need to be able to secure that before you consider writing for us. If you’re unable to because you’re under 18 or your government doesn’t allow it, I’m really sorry, but my hands are tied.

Step Three: Browse Around The Site And The Workshop

The best way to hone in on the type of content we’re looking for is to read our articles. It also helps immensely to go through the Accepted Pitches part of the workshop so you can see what works and the process we go through. Knowing, accepting and tailoring your work to who you’re writing for is the quickest way to be successful. Not just here -- but in the writing world as a whole.

What we strive for is weird, quirky, lesser-known, original premises on people or things or events that carry some sort of “rogue” element to them. Now, when I use the word “rogue,” you should know that we’re pretty flexible on what that means. As I state in the workshop, if you Google the word, it can mean:

a person or thing that behaves in an aberrant, faulty, or unpredictable way.

That’s what we’re going for. So if your idea is something that might surprise the reader with new, unpredictable or counter-intuitive information, you’re on the right track.

Step Four: Pitch

Since you now have a general grasp on what we’re looking for, you should probably know the format and structure and process we expect when you pitch your idea.

In the workshop, you just click on the New Topic button, give your premise a title, and then list at least five entries that embody your core idea. Don’t worry too much about making the title funny or witty -- just tell me exactly what it’s about. Getting too hung up on the title thing will take away from your idea. Just tell me flat out that you want to write about five amazing gamblers. The title isn’t important at the pitch stage.

From there, I simply need a list of your entries, a brief description of each (3-5 sentences is usually sufficient) and reliable sourcing to back them up. And by reliable sourcing I mean no blogs, tabloids, or news sources that are known to be biased. I might like your entries, but if they’re all dependent on links to and Huffington Post and Infowars, I’m going to ask you to replace them.

Once you’ve built your list of five or more, I’ll be in at some point to give you feedback. The very first thing I will do is read your premise and your entries and see if I like the concept as a whole. If it doesn’t seem to be a good fit, I’ll tell you, then try my damnedest to steer it in a direction that does. If it seems solid, we’ll sort out which entries work and which ones don’t and start the process of nailing everything down.

Step Five: Listen To And Follow The Feedback

It’s a rare occasion that an opening pitch is accepted right away. Typically, the premise is liked, and certain entries work, but some don’t because they don’t align with the overall concept, they’re not very surprising, or the sourcing falls through. This is all completely normal.

As the writer, your job is to listen to the feedback given and then follow it. Because other than doing layout and behind the scenes website stuff, most of my job is helping writers publish their pieces. That’s literally my job. So even if you don’t agree with the direction I want to point you or the entries that I cut, just roll with it anyway. The most successful contributors here do exactly that, because they understand the editorial process.

As a bonus, however, we now have a workshop researcher, Jordan Breeding, who is assisting writers in trying to find entries on pitches that have good bones. Once per week I send him into the workshop to have a look at premises that appear solid, then have him harness his Google-fu skills to help round the pitches out. So if I like your idea, and you have three or four solid entries, I might just throw Jordan your way to help with research and guide you on your way to Acceptedville.

Also, I’m toying with the concept of throwing out some free article ideas. Sometimes, I run across fascinating stories or research that I think could work as an article premise. So occasionally, you might see a thread in the workshop prefaced with the words “FREE ARTICLE IDEA.” I provide the premise and an example entry or two and then let you take it from there. It works a little differently than normal pitches, and you can peruse the guidelines here.

Step Six: Write The Article

When your article is accepted, I’ll move it into that portion of the workshop. From there, I may have some final notes on my expectations for the piece. Regardless, that’s when you start writing it.

To be clear, what is expected in your draft submission is your perfect vision of how the article is to be read on the front page of The Modern Rogue. There is no process by which you submit a first draft, get feedback, then we go back and forth until we have the final product. Submit your “Yeah, I could totally see this on the front page” version.

Once you do that, I’ll double-check your sources, check for plagiarism, and barring any problems with those two things, I’ll pay you on the spot. There’s no waiting involved -- submit your draft, and after it’s edited, you get paid. It really is that easy.

The most important thing to remember when writing your draft is to try to emulate the voice of The Modern Rogue to the best of your ability. You’ll probably notice that all of our articles (save for some of the ones done by our regular columnists) all sound like they were written by the same person. That’s our voice, and it’s what’s expected, not only by me, but by our readers.

Most of my editing has to do with voice -- I don’t see a lot of spelling or grammatical errors. It’s usually writers trying to put forth their own voice, or maybe even going with a straight journalistic slant. The more you adapt your style to ours, the sooner I’ll bump your pay from $50 per article to $100.

Step Seven: Bask In The Glory Of A Job Well Done

Hell yeah. Welcome, fellow rogue. Roguerton. Roguernator? Whatever — welcome aboard.

Like this article? Check out “5 People Who Won Big By Manipulating The System” and “How To Dominate At Trivia With As Little Effort As Possible”.

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