"Required reading" for today's smart writer.

"Required reading" for today's smart writer.
As featured on: Pro Blogger, Men With Pens, Write to Done, Tiny Buddha, LifeHack, Technorati, Date My Pet, South 85 Literary Journal and other award-winning sites.

Thursday, February 10, 2011

5 Ways to Earn Cash From Kinfolks!

Let's face it.
Most of us have family dynamics that could be featured in made-for-TV movies.
True? Whether your family closely resembles the Ozzie Osbournes or the Osmonds, chances are their antics, idiosyncrasies, and “colorful” behavior can earn you green!
Over the years, our family dynamics have certainly been the fodder for creative materials for me---for everything from poetry, to personal essays, to commentary.

For example, several of my humorous pieces have appeared in popular anthologies like Simon and Schuster's “Chocolate Series” for women, while dozens of “issues” have been addressed in the way of thought-provoking columns.

And yours can too . Consider this: The family focus has been a popular theme of entertainment for decades. From fictional stories like Alcott's Little Women, to sitcoms like All in the Family, to historical references like Alex Haley's Roots.
The reason? Family topics are relateable and relevant. No matter what color, creed, or country of origin, people can identify through laughter and tears.

If you're ready to give your family “15 minutes of fame,”make extra cash, and possibly bring closure to lingering dramas, here's how to make it happen.

1. Find the human connection---What is a common characteristic or family event that makes for good story-telling? For instance, most families have sibling rivalry, mismatched couples, money disputes, favoritism, interesting careers, victory over obstacles, and family reunion mishaps in their dynamics. Capitalize on yours.

2. Treat “Cousin Jethro” with care---Remember to never put potential profit over family privacy and respect. Use aliases. Respect boundaries. And always use proper discernment.

3. Choose the right genre for optimal impact---Heartfelt emotions typically work well for poetry and greeting cards, while “aha” moments are effective as personal essays and feature articles.

4. Add to the appeal factor and to your publishing odds by providing photos and graphics. Many times simple pictures that can be taken with disposable cameras will be more than adequate and provide visual variety. “Kodak moments” worth sharing would be wedding snapshots, family reunion photos, vacation pictures, family businesses, and births.

5. Give take-away value to your readers---Wow your audience with your words. Make them laugh, make them cry, make them realize that through all the trials and tribulations, families are a treasure to have!

Follow these five tips to immortalize your family and add another dimension to your writing career.

Here are a few writing markets that have a family focus for articles and family-related activities for your submissions. Also note that many general lifestyle magazines have a parenting section for your work as well.

www.familybusiness.com---As the name implies, this publication deals with family owned operations, related success stories and challenges.

www.chicagoparent.com---For families in the Midwest –includes places to visit, local happenings and how-tos on rearing kids.

www.familycircle.com---Monthly publication that addresses all issues devoted to quality living , from toddlers to teens.

www.readersdigest.com---Accepts humorous pieces and anecdotes.

www.washingtonfamily.com---Targets those residing in Washington D.C. and surrounding communities.

www.adoptivefamilies.com---Award-winning, national magazine that provides information on adoption issues and legislation.

Thoughts? How has your family influenced your creativity or your writing career?

Image Salvatore Vuono


  1. I have written about my family, neighbors, neighborhood all my writing life. It's my trademark in many respects. What you advise in point #4 is good counsel, and a timely reminder for me as I retool my writing and aim for new targets.

    I remember an essay that I wrote, accepted as part of a women's anthology. It was a tribute to an aunty ... a real one. Before press, it was this aunty's daughter who intercepted and wanted to be sure she knew what I had written about her mother. At the time, I was surpised and suspect. Today, with this post I can see the episode through different and aged eyes. It was her right and an example of her nature to do that.

    It remains a beautiful piece, and tribute, but I get the wisdom of your words here,and will seek to work it into the compost.

    Yvonne Mokihana

  2. Hi Jennifer - great idea. People email me all the time recommending me to share more of my family side...I'm a father of three, and as you can imagine, we have a loooot of fun. With ages 2, 5, and 7 - moments rarely ever meet a dull luster.

    This post has inspired me to reach further within, and share more of what makes me, me.

    Thank you for the advice Jennifer!

  3. Jennifer Brown BanksFebruary 10, 2011 at 8:58 PM

    Thanks, Yvonne.

    It works if you work it. :-)

  4. Jennifer Brown BanksFebruary 10, 2011 at 8:59 PM


    Glad to be an inspiration. Keep us posted. Thanks for sharing.

  5. Jennifer,
    When my granddaughter was eight, she was visiting during a presidential election. The news reporter interrupted programming and said, "So & So is in the lead. More on candidtates at 10:00 p.m." Ashley looked at me and said, "Nana, I did not know that they could actually call politicians MORONS on national TV." Reader's Digest paid me $100. for that quip.

  6. Jennifer Brown BanksFebruary 11, 2011 at 5:27 AM


    How precious! Now that was cute.:-) That's a perfect example. Thanks for sharing it.

  7. Thanks for the great resources Jennifer. Surprisingly a lot of my commentary and posts are sparked by my daily interactions with family and friends. Good to know other ways to showcase our talents.

    Peace and blessings,

  8. Jennifer Brown BanksFebruary 11, 2011 at 3:46 PM


    You're welcome. It's a perfect example of the age-old advice, "write what you know." :-)

    Thanks for stopping by.

  9. Great tips. Thanks, also, for all the links. I've actually been debating about how I could use some of the things my 3 year old grandson said recently. At the very least, I need to write it down for future reference.
    Happy weekend,

  10. Jennifer Brown BanksFebruary 12, 2011 at 4:00 PM

    Hi Karen,

    As they say, "from the mouth of babes.". :-)
    And for sure, Reader's Digest sounds like a good deal. Thanks for the input.

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  12. Thanks for your post Jennifer,
    those are great ideas,

    One of my humoristic (prize winning) 'True Life Stories' (Letter to the Editor type of Story) that also actually got published in a Big Glossy Large circulation Magazine, was about a somewhat funny Family Situation in a restaurant. (I also wrote about it on my The Secret to Writing Success-page, that you can find the link near the top of my Blog.)

    I do think that sometimes 'Family Situation Comedy' might also possibly be something that could generate
    Funny Greeting Card ideas.