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Contributing Writer vs. Staff Writer: What Are the Differences?

Learn about the two careers and review some of the similarities and differences between them.

If you’re a talented writer with a passion for a particular topic, you may be wondering if you should pursue a career as a contributing writer or a staff writer. Both of these positions have their own set of responsibilities and qualifications. In this article, we compare and contrast the two types of writing positions, and we provide information on what you can expect from each role.

What is a Contributing Writer?

Contributing Writers are freelance writers who write articles or other content for magazines, newspapers, websites or other publications. They may be assigned specific topics to write about, or they may pitch ideas to editors. Contributing Writers typically have some degree of flexibility in terms of when and where they work, although they may be required to meet deadlines. Some Contributing Writers may work exclusively with one publication, while others may work with multiple publications. In some cases, Contributing Writers may be paid per article, while in others they may receive a flat fee or a percentage of the revenue generated by their article.

What is a Staff Writer?

A Staff Writer is a professional writer who is employed by a publication to write articles on a regular basis. Staff Writers are typically assigned to write about specific topics or beats, and they may be required to pitch story ideas to their editors. Their articles are usually published under their byline, and they may be asked to take part in promotional activities for their work, such as giving interviews or participating in panel discussions. In some cases, Staff Writers may be asked to do research or fact-checking for other writers on the team.

Contributing Writer vs. Staff Writer

Here are the main differences between a contributing writer and a staff writer.

Job Duties

Contributing and staff writers have different duties based on their seniority level. A contributing writer may work independently or with an editor to develop ideas for articles. They may write full articles that they submit for publication or revise drafts submitted by other contributors. Contributing writers also have the responsibility of pitching article ideas to editors and suggesting ways to improve a publication’s content.

Staff writers typically have more daily writing responsibilities than contributing writers. They often receive assignments from their editors, research topics and write articles. Staff writers also have editing responsibilities, where they review written submissions and make suggestions about how to improve them before publishing.

Job Requirements

There are no specific educational requirements for becoming a contributing writer or staff writer. However, most writers have at least a bachelor’s degree in English, journalism, communications or another related field. Additionally, many writers complete internships while they’re in college to gain practical experience in the field. Once they graduate, they often start their careers as contributing writers or staff writers for smaller publications before eventually working their way up to writing for more prestigious magazines or newspapers.

Work Environment

Staff writers typically work in an office setting, often with other staff members. They may also travel to different locations for research purposes or to meet with clients. Contributing writers usually work from home and have more flexibility in their schedules. They may also travel to attend conferences or events related to their writing topics.


Both contributing writers and staff writers use writing skills to produce content for their respective publications. However, the type of content they write can differ. For example, a staff writer for a news publication may write articles that report on current events, while a contributing writer for a magazine may write articles that offer opinions or provide analysis on trends.

Contributing writers typically have more freedom in terms of the topics they write about and the tone of their writing, as they are not bound by the same editorial guidelines as staff writers. Staff writers, on the other hand, usually have to pitch their article ideas to an editor before they are assigned a story, and their writing must adhere to the publication’s style guide.

Both types of writers need to be able to research effectively in order to write accurate and informative articles. However, contributing writers may need to do more extensive research as they are often writing about topics that are less familiar to them. Additionally, both types of writers need to be able to meet deadlines and work well under pressure.


The average salary for a contributing writer is $55,240 per year, while the average salary for a staff writer is $55,506 per year. The average salary for both positions may vary depending on the size of the company, the location of the job and the level of experience the writer has prior to pursuing either position.


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