Getting Paid to Write for a Magazine in 1891
My dear Sir:
I thank you for submitting your interesting paper on “Europe’s Military Frankenstein,” which I shall be glad to use in an early number of The Forum. I shall ask you to accept our check for the sum we usually pay per article — $75, which is not a large sum, to-be-sure. We shall be able to give you, however, the most appreciative audience reached, we think, by any periodical.
Billfold pal Sydney Bufkin found a letter written in 1891 from Walter Hines Page to a writer who was submitting an article to the The Forum, an American periodical that ran from 1886 to 1930, and points out that $75 in 1891 dollars is “$1796.34 in 2010 dollars.”
I’m not sure if The Forum was a big publication at the time, but once upon a time in the ’90s when magazines had ridiculous amounts of money to spend on photo shoots and reporting, editors had these amazing budgets where it wasn’t uncommon for a magazine writer to get paid $8,000 or $10,000 for a piece (or so I was told by a person who wrote magazine articles in the ’90s). Unfortunately, those budgets are long gone, but writers who are lucky enough to freelance for magazines can still scrape by a living—it’s just not how it used to be.