Freelance Writing and Photography Guidelines

Thank you for your interest in contributing to OutdoorIllinois Journal, a free, online publication of the Illinois Department of Natural Resources’ Division of Wildlife Resources and funded through the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Services’ Federal Aid in Wildlife Restoration Program. The focus of OutdoorIllinois Journal is timely, seasonally based, scientifically sound stories about the state’s wildlife resources and recommended wildlife management practices for the private landowner, as well as related recreational activities, including hunting, trapping, wildlife watching and photography, and places for such recreation in Illinois.

Articles are approximately 500 words in length, although longer articles may be published as a series, and include up to four (4) photographs. In August 2018 OutdoorIllinois Journal will become a monthly publication, with articles posted about the first of each month. Please review content on the website for ideas on the types of articles that will be accepted. Unacceptable stories include:

  • Wildlife or wildlife-related recreational activities not typical of Illinois
  • Those with a personal, political or religious agenda
  • First-person accounts of an experience
  • Poetry or book reviews

As a contributing author or photographer, you retain all rights to your contribution. You may publish your work again in any form. You retain the copyright on all material you submit. IDNR may contact you should the opportunity arise to reprint your article/photograph in other IDNR materials. The decision to allow the reprint is yours.

Every effort is made by the editorial team to ensure that the person credited is the author or photographer. If it is found that the contributor has misrepresented work as being original, the work will be removed from the site. Unfortunately, it is possible that your work could be taken from the site by someone and reprinted under their name, but that is possible with work printed in paper books and magazines.

Pitching an Article or Photographs


An approximately 100 word pitch—not a finished draft—usually is enough for us to determine if your idea is something we want to pursue. The best pitches represent your writing style, include a headline, are packed with specific information, and include sources of information you intend to use. We’d appreciate also receiving your credentials and two (2) relevant published clips.


If you are a professional photographer and would like to be considered for commissioned work, please submit three (3) samples of your Illinois-based wildlife, landscape or recreational activity photographs.

Review of Submissions

Our editorial team will review your writing or photography pitches to determine if they are appropriate for OutdoorIllinois Journal. We will make every effort to respond to all pitches, but if you have not heard from the editorial team within two weeks you can assume your pitch has not been accepted. If your pitch gets our interest, we’ll follow up with some thoughts and suggestions. Once the assignment is settled, we’ll negotiate a deadline, word count/number of photos and a rate that depends on your experience and the amount of reporting required (maximum of $250 for articles and $25 per photograph). Do not begin working on your story or submit photographs until you have received confirmation and have reviewed, read, signed and returned the contract that will be initiated by the editorial staff.

Submit Your Application


If you have additional questions prior to submitting a pitch, please send a note to: with the subject line reading OIWJ contribution QUESTION.