How much do you pay for articles?


How much do you pay for articles?

Short answer: A typical article of 3000 words, 10 photos, and a short video clip will net a payment of about $230, or about $38 per landscape spread. We expect payment of $200 - $600 per feature article to be typical, although for some longer feature articles we've paid well over $1000. Getting on the cover adds another $100.

Long answer: If we can use your article, we'll pay you for it upon publication. Our standard rates are:

  • $10 per landscape spread of text (about 350 words)
  • $10 per photo
  • $25 per virtual reality image (3D click-n-spin)
  • $25 per minute of video or audio (5 min max - contact us if more because we have size limits)

A typical submission of 3000 words and 30 photos (bracketed) plus a short 2 minute video clip will result in an article that runs about 6 landscape spreads, has 10 photos and includes a short video clip. This article will net a payment of about $230 (an average of about $38 per landscape spread).

If the actual published article has more pages, more images, or more of your rich media content than we originally estimated, you will get a payment for the extra material used upon publication. In that case, payment will be considerably more, approaching as much as $60 per landscape spread. If we use less of your article than originally estimated, then so be it. You got a higher rate for your article!

If one of your photos makes our cover, we pay $100 for cover photos.

Since our electronic format doesn't limit us to a specific page count, we're interested in more meaty feature articles. Some of our longer feature articles running 20 pages or more, with 50+ photos have netted the author well over $1000 in payment.


I'm Surprised

That is a generous amount for an article based on what the paper magazines with a Cover Price pay.  I wonder how you can afford to do it when your magazine is free!  Makes me wonder what exactly I'm paying for at the newsstand. Keep up the great work.  Thanks,



I'm Surprised Too, But Not Exactly The Same Way

Good grief. At 2.5 cents per word, starving author takes on a whole new meaning! That's by far the lowest rate I have ever heard of for a national (really international) publication. The last article I wrote for publication paid $900 for 2,500 words. That was in the early 90s. Today, I would expect about a dollar a word. The article was not model railroad related, however.

Obviously, the model railroad press pays substantially lower rates than general interest magazines, or even widely read special interest publications. On the upside, we do theoretically benefit from those low rates in the form of more advertising from small companies that would not be able to afford it if the writers were paid a living wage. But 2.5 cents a word? That's low....... 



I think you are missing the point...

That's by far the lowest rate I have ever heard of for a national (really international) publication

And how many of those are free and cater to a hobby market?

At $1 per word it would cost over $30K per month to publish this FREE magazine.  All of that money would need to come from advertisers.  While model railroading is a relatively popular hobby it's still a small niche market in the grand scheme of things.  A lot of the advertisers are themselves small companies, paying out $2K+ per month in advertising is likely not feasible for them.

I get the impression that the request for articles is aimed at amateur model railroaders, not professional writers.  The majority if not all of the articles in the magazine are written by people who love the hobby and had a great idea or built something and wanted to share it.  I suspect very few of them are professional writers who are execting to make a living writing for MRH.



No, I Did Not Miss The Point

Marc, I don't think you actually read my post.

I was countering the first comment that suggested the rates were generous. They aren't. I pointed out what generous rates really would be.

I also pointed out that the low rates keep the ads rates down, thereby giving small firms the opportunity to advertise that they otherwise would not have. This is true of all model railroad publications. Did you miss that part? Take a gander at the rates charged by some of the general interest magazines found on any newstand and you will understand the difference.




LKandO's picture

Hobby vs Job

I would write an MRH article for free if I were advanced enough in the hobby to have something of interest to the readers. For me it would be part of the hobby experience much like working on a club layout or donating time at a show table. And, for non-professional writers, it makes one feel good to see their work published in a magazine.


All the details:        Just the highlights: MRH blog

When I was a kid... no wait, I still do that. HO, 28x32, double deck, 1969, RailPro

Attracting Authors

 I would write an MRH article for free if I were advanced enough in the hobby to have something of interest to the readers.

That's the key right there. Niche magazines rely on attracting authors with a combination of a token payment and the panache of an author seeing his work in "print." I am constantly amazed at the quality of the articles that appear in the model railroad press. I know that most of these authors are not being generously compensated for their work, probably significantly less than minimum wage, when all is said and done. While some of it may be good editing, it's clear we have some really talented people out there, both as modellers and as authors.

On the other hand, a certain print magazine seems to be running a lot of staff generated pieces lately. 




I think that sometimes we think model railroading is big.

It is not a big hobby in terms of popularity.  Look for railroad titles at your local newstand, Barnes & Noble, Borders, etc.  At my local Banes & Noble there are as many monthly magazines devoted to Ferrari with a starting price for a base model above $100k as there are for trains, both prototype and model combined.  Every drug store, grocery store, or big box discount storee with a magazine rack carries at least 6-12 monthly magazines devoted to automobiles, they wil have another half dozen titles devoted to boating, same for shooting, hunting & fishing, as well as the weekly Sports Illustrated.  I've never seen a railroad title model or otherwise at one of those stores.

What MRH pays for published material is competitive with MR & MRC, but obviously not comparable to magazines in more popular fields.  If the model railroading press does not get submissions from hobbyists, they have very little to publish.  I don't know of a single automotive publication that solicits, or publishes anything from an author other than staff writers or publishes pictures with those articles other than those taken by a staff photographer.

Regarding to the question about what you pay for when you buy a magazine at a news stand or subscribe to a magazine, you are paying for printing and distribution of the magazine only.  If the local store does not sell all of the issues of a magazine in a timely manner, they cut off the "mast head" on the cover of each unsold magazine, send it back to the publisher and destroy the remainder of the magazine and then are credited for those issues that didn't sell.  Advertisinfg pays for everything else in the magazine.  MRH is free because the relative cost to publish online is a small fraction of the cost to print.

I belong to the NMRA and the Santa Fe Hisrtorical & Modeling Society.  In both cases the reason for recent dues increases is the cost of publication and distribution of the magazines.  The SFHMS recently polled the membership because the dues was $30.00 per year at the time and the magazine cost for printing and distribution was $29.95 per year for the 4 quarterly issues.  I asked for them to put the magazine online, but I was in a less than 25% minority!  The majority elected to have the dues raised to maintain the magazine at the content level it was at with a smaller % asking to hold the line on the dues and reduce the size of the magazine.

joef's picture

Think more than text

"Words are cheap" to coin a phrase.

With MRH, we pay premium rates for media - digital images, animations (click-n-spins, panoramas) and video footage.

If all you're looking at is the text payment, you're right - we don't pay a lot. But when someone includes lots of media in their submission, the payment goes up quickly for the article.

We've paid a few hundred dollars for articles that are mostly text and a handful of images. However, on our step-by-steps with lots of photos, a click-n-spin or two, and video footage, we've written checks approaching $2000 for the article.

I don't know of any other model railroad publication that pays for individual images as well as text. They usually just pay a flat per page rate. With us, a page of text alone is $10. With one photo plus the text, $20 - double the payout. Some step-by-steps have had 5 or 6 images on a page - that's $50 or $60 per page!

Keep in mind we're modern media-centric. If you want good payout, include lots of photos and other media. If you're unsure exactly how to do that, just ask. We're happy to give you advice on how to do click-n-spins and video, as well as what we're looking for in still photos.

Joe Fugate
Publisher, Model Railroad Hobbyist magazine

Joe Fugate's HO Siskiyou Line

deflation of word value

Word value has taken a serious hit since tthe 1990s, thanks to the internet.  EVERYBODY is writing now, which means you can expect more starving writers...unless they are smart and do their writing only as a hobby!

joef's picture

From a web site on freelance internet author pay rates

• News Articles ( web related ): $15-50 per page
• E-books:$15-25 per page
• Novels and Books: $75 per page
• Articles for web content, not related to news: $10-$50 per article based on word count

MRH's average pay rate is approximately $30 per page, although it can be as high as $50 per page if you include lots of media / images. A typical 6-page article will fetch between $180 and $300, depending on the amount of media / images you include. You can add $100 to that if you make the cover.

However, if you do a step-by-step, those typically run from 15-20 pages, and will yield from $450 - $1000.

Joe Fugate
Publisher, Model Railroad Hobbyist magazine

Joe Fugate's HO Siskiyou Line


So you're saying I should have done the pole barn as a step by step and then submitted it as an article instead of a free for-all-blog? :P  Meh, it's just money!

Rio Grande Dan's picture

Yes Benny

I was wondering why you didn't do just exactly that. All three of your subjects of Remodeling your Wire plant, Kit Bashing an early Fork lift, and the construction of the poll Barn. you could be making a few bucks for your RR work.

Rio Grande Dan

joef's picture

The only limitation

The only limitation on step-by-steps is we're only running one - two of those per issue in order to run lots of smaller articles as well to improvie issue article variety. For a free magazine that you can opt out of getting on a per issue basis, if we dont' have a good variety, readership can drop that issue.

While in theory we can go as many pages as we want, there's a practical limit to how much time we have to put into each monthly issue. Each page needs laid out and put through several layers of editing - that takes time. Plus people won't be as likely to download a magazine if the file size gets too large.

Joe Fugate
Publisher, Model Railroad Hobbyist magazine

Joe Fugate's HO Siskiyou Line

truth and the speed of cyber space...

Joe, you're absolutely right.

Dan, this is true - but then you'd have to wait for the next issue for all what has already fact, by this time next week I should have the project entirely finished!!

And speaking of the tractor...I painted it tonight.  I think you'll really like the results...

Joe, I'll see what I can knock up towards writing an article...

Mycroft's picture

As a newly accepted author

I didn't even look at the payment rates until today.  I was doing the article out of the want to do it.  Payment is a bonus.  Looking at the rates above, I should net enough to buy a cordless DCC controller, after paying the taxes.  And my wife can't complain about what I spend that on, as the money came from trains and is going towards trains...


James Eager

City of Miami, Panama Limited, and Illinois Central - Mainline of Mid-America

Plant City MRR Club, Home to the Mineral Valley Railroad

NMRA member, ferroequinologist, author, photographer, speaker, scouter


rtw3rd's picture

Paying a "stipend"

Now since I've been married for 31 + wonderful years I came up with the idea of paying the Mrs. a little "something" anytime I make money doing something railroad related.  This started when I was volunteering for the Blue Ridge Scenic Railway.   As a "unpaid" volunteer" you earn "credits" which translate to $$$ in a check they send you (and count as taxable).  Since my time volunteering took me away from the Mrs. I gave her some of my money for her to do as she pleases.  She loves the idea and even says "Isn't it about time for you to work the BRSR again?"  I carried the same idea when I starting writing for MRH and we both enjoy the benefits.



The Richlawn Railroad Website - Featuring the L&N in HO  / MRH Blog  /  

joef's picture

Don't overlook videos and eBooks

MRH is also starting to do more videos tied to articles .. the Confalone video, for example, has sold well and Mike's made a pretty penny off it - the equivalent to a whole year's worth of articles. The upcoming Gorre & Daphetid Resurrected article will have a DVD/feature-length downloadable video to go with it that you can purchase.

MRH is also getting into micro-priced eBooks. No ads, but includes media as well as text, and a special private author comment thread tied to the eBook so you can keep getting value from your eBook purchase. Because the comment thread is private with the book author, there's no spam and the quality of the thread posts will be very high, perhaps even including more media beyond what's in the eBook.

For eBooks and videos, our royalty rates are at least double what the other Model Railroading publishers will pay you. We want to make it very worth your while to do new media stuff for the hobby.

If you have a video or eBook project you'd like to propose to us, please use the contact us link to tell us about it.

Joe Fugate
Publisher, Model Railroad Hobbyist magazine

Joe Fugate's HO Siskiyou Line

Forum postings effect

Given the huge ratio between your emag downloads (20,000 ish) and forum post reads (200 ish), does a forum post necessarily act as a "spoiler" for a future emag article?.


joef's picture

Downloads vs forum

The magazine audience size per month is ~55,000 on average, with peaks up to ~65,000, while the forum posts get read by anywhere from a few hundred people to a couple thousand on the really popular ones.

We consider any content posted on the website to be essentially unread by our magazine audience.

A case in point in the Small Layouts article I did last issue by drawing from posts on the website. This article rated in the top 3 that issue. If it was old news to the readership, then it would not have gotten such a high rating.

Long story short, most of our magazine readers don't read a lot on the website. If you want to really reach the broadest audience, it needs to be in the magazine.

Come MRH generation 2 in January (more about that soon), web pages can be ads directly in the magazine. The mind boggles because now modelers don't even have to leave the magazine to interact with your website. They will be able to navigate your website right inside the magazine.

Joe Fugate
Publisher, Model Railroad Hobbyist magazine

Joe Fugate's HO Siskiyou Line

rtw3rd's picture

Joe, are you saying..


You said

"We consider any content posted on the website to be essentially unread by our magazine audience."  

So are you saying that you might consider some of my (our) previously postings on the MRH website for publication IF they meet your requirements (good photos, timely, interesting, etc...)?




The Richlawn Railroad Website - Featuring the L&N in HO  / MRH Blog  /  

joef's picture

Rick: yes


Yes, 90% or more of the magazine readership will not have seen it. If the content is good, we might want it for the magazine.

Joe Fugate
Publisher, Model Railroad Hobbyist magazine

Joe Fugate's HO Siskiyou Line

How do I find out if you're interested?

I know I read somewhere how to go about submitting an article but can you point me to it again? I have several ideas that I've often thought about writing up and seeing if anyone would be interested in them. Not all are project style ideas, I have some "railroading general interest" type things too. So do I go to all the trouble of writing the whole deal up only to find out there is no interest or is there some way for me to pitch my ideas and gauge interest?

I know she's biased but my wife has always told me I write quite well so I've often thought I'd like to give it a shot and see if I can get something published.


JLandT Railroad's picture

Count me in...


If there is "anything" that I have posted on the JL&T Blog please feel free to use any and all of it for the magazine, if anything is worthy of an article or how too I'd be happy to redo them, re-write and take more photos or vidoes.



joef's picture

Use contact us

If you have something specific you want to submit, use the contact us area under the Help menu ...

Joe Fugate
Publisher, Model Railroad Hobbyist magazine

Joe Fugate's HO Siskiyou Line

JLandT Railroad's picture


And sent Joe... laugh


I don't know where you have been since the early 90s, because I have had model railway articles published in US, UK, Europe and Australia in the past ten years and I am yet to receive any payment or even a thank you from the editorial staff and also as an Assistant Editor of a railway magazine, I wasn't paid.  My last Editor job of the Australian NMRA National magazine for a few years was gratis as well and I wasn't expecting payment either because there are many authors out there who volunteer their work for the love of the hobby.  Joe and staff are doing a wonderful job with a forever free modeling magazine and I don't care if the rates are low in your eyes as I would submit articles if I was successful in preventing a new modeler from trying to re-invent the wheel in the hobby for free.  The advertising is obviously paying for the articles and having advertised in the past here, I have found the prices very reasonable so the staff are obviously managing their budget very well and managing to produce an excellent e-mag.

Back to the first post

I would much rather have an article that was written by a good modeler who was knowledgeable on the subject and was learning how to be an author, than an article written by a talented author who was not knowledgeable about the hobby every time. I have dropped nearly every publication I have been subscribing to over the years because of the change from substance to style. It is rather easy to see the difference between an article written by those that can vs those that have not.

Many times the amateur articles are not as artistically presented as something a more polished and skilled writer could do but the content and techniques are much better.

Joe, thanks for the magazine you have developed. Your format and pay scale will likely be great for what is a free time enterprise for most of us. As Rick stated above any money we get from doing our hobby is a bonus. Getting recognition and money for doing something we would be doing any way is just a huge pat on the back. I suspect that your magazine is really providing a valuable service to it's advertisers as well.

Rob in Texas

The club blog

Everyone is welcome to visit our club site, let me know what you think.

Dave O's picture

Efffective writing ...

... is just as important as the content in my book.  A poorly written article will not hold my attention for long; the subject matter will have to be one of utmost interest to me if I am going to spend my time struggling through an article that seems to have been written by a grade-schooler.  I agree, not everyone is an "author" and not everyone has the ability to write well; but that is where the editor comes it.  It is the editor's responsibility to ensure the article is correct, accurate, complete, and consistent prior to publication.  As in all things, some editors are better at this than others.

joef's picture

Text is only a small part

Decent writing is only a small part of the total with us. More important for us are good visuals.

Thing is, we can take poor writing and our copy editors (one of whom used to work for the Oregonian Newspaper as a copy editor) can make just about anyone sound decent and make an article hang together. 

What is almost impossible to do is fix poor photos. If the photo is poorly composed, poorly lit, or out of focus, we can't do much to fix that. Photoshop is good, but it can't fix fundamentally bad photos.

The thing we notice is many of the articles that have the best visuals are often in the top 5 ratings, so visuals matter a lot.

Joe Fugate
Publisher, Model Railroad Hobbyist magazine

Joe Fugate's HO Siskiyou Line

arbe's picture

We consider any content

We consider any content posted on the website to be essentially unread by our magazine audience.


Somehow the magazine readers should be encouraged to check out the on-line content.  I didn't read much of the forums/blogs posts at first either.  I found that I was missing the boat, er train once I started and now check one or more times a day.  There is real info and entertaining reading out there.

Bob Bochenek

Bob Bochenek   

Chicago Yellowstone and Pacific Railroad     

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