By Chiara Cavaglieri

“When life gives you lemons, make lemonade.” This may sound like a tired old cliche but hey – why shouldn’t you turn a negative experience into something positive? Whatever the case may be, your unique set of circumstances might just have the makings of a bestseller – or, at the very least, a blog post that goes viral.

As anyone who’s ever read an inspiring real-life tale will know, there’s power in telling your real life story. In some cases, there’s even money.

While it may not work for everyone, it’s quite possible to use a difficult or unusual life experience to make some well-deserved cash. So, have you got an interesting tale that others might find relatable? If the answer is yes, here are a few ideas…

Almost every newspaper or magazine you pick up will feature at least one real-life story – often tragic, absurd or moving.

Driven by the ‘human interest’ angle, publications are always on the lookout for something either really unusual or highly relatable to draw the eye.

So, if you have an experience that fits the bill, there is every chance you can tell your real-life story in exchange for a few hundred (or sometimes even a few thousand) pounds. Whether your life experience is outrageous, inspiring, tragic, or even comic, it’s likely that you have something unique to offer.

It could be your husband’s affair, bankruptcy, a heart-warming reunion, an illness… or even something less serious, like a dodgy bikini wax. Yes, really!


Before you even think about picking up the phone or drafting an email to sell your story, make sure you are completely comfortable with having your life in the public domain.

Remember your friends, family and random strangers you may still meet are likely to read or hear about your story. So you need to be sure that you can cope with the possibility of negative reactions.

You need to remember that anyone else involved in your story will likely have an opinion on you sharing it, too. It might be a good idea to speak to those you’re likely to mention first. That way, you can discuss any objections that they have before the fact.

Here are a few things to consider:

  • How much are you willing to disclose? Are there things you don’t want to discuss that are central to the story? If so, not including them might be a problem.
  • Do you have photographs? This increases the amount publications are willing to pay. It might also be the clincher in sealing the deal. Make sure you own the copyright before you commit to sharing photographs with the publication.
  • Do you have legal representation? If your story is of a sensitive nature, involving other parties, this is important.
  • How organised are you? Should you ever be embroiled in legal battles over the story, you need to be able to provide a record of all conversations with potential buyers.


Once you’ve decided that you’re okay with facing any repercussions, it’s time to decide which publication/s to approach.

Here are some things to consider:

  • What kind of story do you have to tell?
  • Who are the people that you want to tell your story to?
  • Do magazines feature these sorts of stories?
  • Is it better to approach a newspaper?
  • Who is the audience for your story, and what publications do they read?


Different magazines obviously have different types of readership, so take some time reading various ones to see where your real-life story might work best.

Pay close attention to the adverts, as the kind of products they feature offer a good idea of who they’re trying to attract. This should give you an idea of the target audience. Will they be interested in your story?

Magazines with a teenage readership may find stories about bullying, family drama and friendship feuds fascinating. Remember, you’ll need to be a similar age or not much older to sell stories to this audience.

Take A BreakWoman’s Own and Chat, on the other hand, often feature sensational stories such as medical horrors or amazing weight loss.

An upmarket glossy like Marie Claire may feature completely different kinds of stories, such as those concerning travel experiences, mental health or careers.

Remember, all these publications have websites too. You might have a better chance of selling your story this way, as print space is always at a premium. Don’t dismiss online-only publications, either.


If your story touches upon contemporary issues and has widespread appeal – perhaps a failed operation or how you had to sell the family home to pay off debts – it may be more appropriate for a newspaper feature article.

Think about the kind of real-life stories you’ve read in the press and have a good look at a variety of newspapers to see which ones are most likely to want a story like yours.


Some national newspapers like The Sun and The Mirror have phone numbers and email addresses specifically for if you want to sell your real life story.

Similarly, magazines like Take A Break have a separate section on their website to help you sell them your story.

If you can’t find a dedicated email address for the paper or magazine you have in mind, simply call the switchboard and ask to be put through to the features desk.

For an alphabetical list of all the newspapers and magazines in the UK along with contact details go to the Media.info website.

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