For Freelance Contributors

The Real MainStream is the only LGBTQ-affirming, intersectional and progressive publication serving Illinois and Iowa.

TRM welcomes submissions and inquiries from three kinds of contributors:

  • Opinion or commentary writers seeking to submit columns or analytical essays on current affairs or anything that supports The Real MainStream Mission Statement
  • Experienced or new journalists seeking to broaden their portfolio of news or feature articles or photo essays.
  • Creative writers and artists seeking publication of artwork, photography, cartoons, poems, humor essays or short stories.

If you’re interested in writing opinion, commentary, news or feature articles, please send your resume, plus three to five samples of your work, and a cover letter explaining why you want to write for The Real MainStream to Editor Christine Hawes at If you’re interested in publishing your creative writing in the form of a poem, essay or short story, please go to the Self-Publish page. Please note our Self-Publish feature does not involve compensation.

Currently, writers are compensated at a rate of $25 for non-experienced writers, and $65 for experienced writers. These rates are comparable with modern-day freelance writing rates and will adjust upwards as this new fund becomes stable.

The Real MainStream pays $25 to $65 per article and/or project gallery. All pieces undergo the same editing and preparation process as other pieces, following best practices and journalism ethics. Submissions are edited for grammar, punctuation, structure, clarity, accuracy, and attribution.

Photographers interested in photojournalism; graphic designers and artists interested in helping to illustrate articles and columns,; or web developers should contact Christine Hawes at

We are also seeking Community Liaisons to help us cover communities throughout Illinois and Iowa, and Support Liaisons to help recruit businesses and groups to support The Real MainStream through ad sales and partnerships. If you’re interesting in any of these roles, please email