Writing for Devotional Sites

by Diana C. Derringer

A roller-coaster ride, newlywed misunderstandings, fishing adventures, middle-of-the-night foster care placements, family health miracles, and talking fruit trees have all weaved their way into my online devotional submissions.

At first, I wrote devotions solely for print magazines, both freelance and assigned. I knew devotional websites existed and read a few. However, I never seriously considered submitting to them. As I learned more about online opportunities, that gradually changed.

Possibilities

Some magazines publish both online and hard copy. The Upper Room Magazine’s online version maintains a massive community of followers, who not only leave frequent comments for writers but also for one another.

In addition to the devotion, Upper Room invites writers to join a larger online conversation by writing a blog post and sharing a photo the same day their devotions appear. The post may or may not relate to the devotion. It allows readers to learn a bit more about writers’ personal or professional lives. Links to writer websites or blogs often lead to new followers and friends. Other devotional sites, such as Christian Devotions appear exclusively online. Many are non-paying markets. However, their devotions offer a word of encouragement or moment of ministry to a diverse audience. Regular appearances also add to a writer’s platform. I recall walking into The Kentucky Christian Writers Conference one year, and a woman greeted me with, “Oh, I hoped I would meet you here.” She had read my work and seen my picture on the Christian Devotions site. Well-known non-paying sites may lead to writing assignments within the paying market.

I typically offer first rights to paying markets and reprint rights to non-paying.

Preparation

In order to point people to Jesus, many devotional sites suggest writers:

  • Begin with prayer.
  • Study the Bible verse(s) to accompany the devotion.
  • Write on less well-known verses to offer readers a new perspective and increase the likelihood of an editor’s acceptance.
  • Never underestimate the power of personal stories.

What initially appears inconsequential may lead to the most significant devotions. Who would have thought tiny crocheted elephants could have much impact? Yet, they did when first crocheted and later through a devotion about them.

Neither should unpublished writers feel inconsequential. Many devotional sites welcome them along with established and multi-published writers and authors. The sites encourage new writers to follow God’s leadership and take advantage of opportunities to learn and strengthen their craft.

Guidelines

Although details such as word count or preferred Bible version vary, most print or online devotional sites have similar guidelines. Most want a:

  • Short catchy title
  • Bible verse (Some also desire a longer suggested Bible passage.)
  • Devotion related to the verse

Many conclude with a thought for the day and/or a prayer.

Regardless of the subject, editors want writers to stick to one main point. From the title to the closing prayer, everything must tie together. A devotion’s limited word count (often 100-400 words) allows no room for digression. Although it does not offer intense theological study, it does seek to increase the reader’s understanding of the Bible and relationship with God.

Other helpful reminders for online writers:

  • Write simple sentences and short paragraphs.
  • Cut the clutter and write tight.
  • Use active rather than passive verbs.
  • Lead readers to hear, feel, taste, see, or touch the devotional content.
  • Always adhere to the site’s guidelines.

Outlines

Editors expect writers to immediately capture the readers’ attention, tie their introduction to the Bible verse and devotional theme, and relate their summary and application to God’s truth for daily life.

Christian Devotions uses the following format:

  • HOOK: Catch the reader’s interest with a brief story or shocking statement.
  • BOOK: Declare your key point and your interpretation of the passage.
  • LOOK: Present the big picture and offer practical life application lessons and tips.
  • TOOK: Lead to a decision; close with an action statement and challenge the reader to change.

Submissions

Sites vary on the submission method. Some have an online submission page. Others request email submissions with the devotion included either as an attachment or in the body of the email. Those who use attachments typically favor:

  • Word documents
  • Single spacing with a double space between paragraphs and no indents
  • Times New Roman, 12-point font

Writing for devotional sights offer limited financial rewards. However, their eternal worth cannot be measured this side of heaven.

Writing Prompt: Think of a recent event in your life. Use the hook, book, look, and took method to write a brief devotion.

Click to Tweet: A roller-coaster ride, newlywed misunderstandings…middle-of-the-night foster care placements, family health #miracles, and talking fruit trees have all weaved their way into my online #devotional submissions. Story via @InspiredPrompt @DianaDerringer


Diana Derringer is an award-winning writer and author of Beyond Bethlehem and Calvary: 12 Dramas for Christmas, Easter, and More! Hundreds of her devotions, articles, dramas, planning guides, Bible studies, and poems appear in 40-plus publications, including The Upper Room, The Christian Communicator, Clubhouse, Kentucky Monthly, Seek, and Missions Mosaic, plus several anthologies. She also writes radio drama for Christ to the World Ministries. Her adventures as a social worker, adjunct professor, youth Sunday school teacher, and friendship family for international university students supply a constant flow of writing ideas. Visit her at dianaderringer.com. You can also find her on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Instagram, Goodreads, Pinterest, and her Amazon page.


Beyond Bethlehem and Calvary

12 Dramas for Christmas, Easter and More!

Flexibility, ease of production, and themes that meet us where we live make this drama collection suitable for large or small groups, whether in a church setting or on the most rugged mission trip.

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