How to get paid to write articles about boating and sailing – the step by step guide to getting published in the UK's biggest selling boating magazine

We publish dozens of reader-written features every year: online and in print 13 issues per year. Sail, power, rowing, sculling, surfing, foiling, shipping, inland, offshore, solo, fully crewed… there are almost no limits! (Although we are probably less interested in racing and anything over 50ft/16m long).

So how can you get paid to write articles in the UK’s biggest selling sailing magazine?

Wherever you are in the world, if you can write in English (or get translated) the following guidelines will help you to compose, edit, photograph, package and present your writing so that we, the editorial staff, can read it quickly and make a decision.

Please note: we don’t pay for readers’ letters


How to write for a sailing magazine

Step 1: Buy a copy of the magazine

There are 10 online outlets and hundreds of newsagents and supermarkets where you can buy a single copy of Practical Boat Owner.

We have listed the key sections of the magazine below and how to write for those sections, but there’s a lot you can gather on top of that simply by reading an issue cover to cover.

Click here to find your nearest shop selling PBO on the newsstand · Buy a single issue delivered to your door! OR Buy a single issue to download now · Buy a back issue · Subscribe to get future issues delivered to your door:

Step 2: Write the words

We only commission articles from new writers when we have seen the full text and the high-resolution* digital images. It may be different for established writers, although even those who are published in non-marine titles will usually be asked to supply the article in full before we can make a decision.

*For more on image resolution see this article on (which discusses printing for brochures and posters, but the same rules apply to magazines).

Step 3: Send the words and pictures

We commission articles more quickly when they arrive by email (or and they are easy to open, easy to read and accompanied by a complete selection of captioned high-resolution photographs listed in the order they should appear in the story.

But having said that, we do also commission stories that are hand-written and arrive in the mail!

In short, the more work we have to do to get to the bottom of the story, the longer it will take to get published. And if a similar work arrives that is better presented than yours, we will reject yours and accept the other one.

The fully technical part is at the bottom of this article How to submit an article with photos.

Don’t despair: all the technical talk below will help you figure out the ideal format in which to send your article(s), but don’t lose sight of the goal. There is an old saying: ‘Don’t get it right; get it written!‘ It’s the words that matter: if you don’t have any pictures at all there may still be hope… as long as there’s an article 🙂

A note on photography

PBO has subscriptions to the world’s largest photo libraries, but what we will never be able to find in a library is a photo of YOUR boat or YOU and YOUR crew doing things on YOUR boat – especially when the sails are actually up and the boat is moving. Pictures of people sailing and doing things while sailing – even if they are amateurish – are still valuable for your article. Failing that, some photos of your boat alongside, at anchor or motoring… For practical articles do send photos of people doing things: sanding, scraping, painting, repairing. ‘Before’, ‘during’ and ‘after’ shots are also required, but action shots are priceless!

7 types of article we regularly publish

Most magazines use templates and franchises to make life easier for themselves and for the readers. See if your article falls into one of the most common categories below (Hint: we publish a lot of these types of articles, which makes us likely to accept those that may still need work)


Click the image to read the full article: How to increase stowage on your boat

Most PBO readers own their own boats and try to do as much of their own repair and maintenance work as possible. Therefore, if you you write a story about a boat-repair or maintenance project that you tried to achieve, describe how you tried to achieve it and describe how it turned out, drawing some conclusions that other people in your situation might find interesting… we’re in business! It doesn’t matter if it took 4 hours or 4 years, stick to the simple formula above and get writing.

A set of ‘before’, ‘during’ and ‘after’ photos is ideal, but keep writing even if you know there are sections of your article that won’t have images to accompany them. We do sometimes include elements of step by step (see below), but it’s not required.

Max word count: 3500

Max number of photos (high resolution): 40

See below for How to submit an article with photos



Click the image to read in full: How to replace a marine diesel cylinder head step by step

This is a highly challenging task for new authors, but not impossible. Consider starting off with a small one before ‘going large’. Or perhaps just consider including a small element of step by step within a more general practical feature.

Step by step photographs need to be of a consistent quality (lighting and framing is important) and need to be submitted in a logical order: that involves labeling and editing out repetitive images. The captions can be long or short, but it works best if all the captions are the same length. Sub-dividing step-by-steps into chunks of between 5 and 12 photos each makes life a lot easier and more readable.

Word Count: Start with a 150-500 word introduction. Include fact boxes or ‘explainers’ so that the captions can remain light and functional. If you subdivide the article into sections or stages, each stage could have a short introduction: 50-100 words.

Captions: Try to keep them all the same length. Probably 70 words is a maximum each.

Max number of photos: 60 – ideally subdivided into groups

See below for How to submit an article with photos



This is a regular section of the magazine devoted to readers’ innovations, work-arounds, inventions and short projects, eg How to make a steering mitten out of sail cloth; Home-made impeller pullers; DIY wind indicators, insect repellent and cup holders. If you’re unable to keep it short, see above for guidelines on a Practical Feature. For this section, anything from a single photo with a caption up to the maximum listed below will be considered. And (whisper it) even reader tips without pics!

Word count: 500 words max

Max number of photos: 10

See below for How to submit an article with photos



From tales of adventure and high drama to diary-style pottering or ‘this is better than any Pilot Book’ reports: we publish a variety of different takes on the cruising article. After all, going places on the water is the reason we work on our boats in the first place!

Keep it simple: first person, past tense (ie ‘I did this…’ or ‘We did that..’) but vary the style. If every paragraph begins ‘The next day…’ it’s not very interesting to read.

The ‘Notes on photography’ at the top of the article apply particularly to cruising articles. We love candid photos of people enjoying sailing. Show the readers how great the trip was – it’s 1000 times better than telling them. From your visits ashore, you will have photos with people in and photos without: the ones with you and your family in the frame are the ones we need to see. Keep your selection of perfect sunset images to a minimum, especially if you have photos with people in that you could include instead. If you mention a monument or a beautiful coastline, we’ll find a scenic stock photo. When you see your article before it’s printed, you can suggest which scenic pics for us to use!

Max word count: 3500

Max number of photos: 40

See below for How to submit an article with photos



This is a regular section in the magazine of fixed length that describes sailing areas in some detail using charts, bullet points, fact boxes, panels and diagrams. Ideally it should have a personal angle as well, but a first-person narrative is enough.

Max word count: 1200 words (occasionally extended to 1800)

Max number of photos: 20

See below for How to submit an article with photos



This section is unique to PBO and involves telling the story of a real-life incident and the lessons that you learned from it. Typically we do not pay contributors for their words and pictures in this section. Instead, we commission marine artist Dick Everitt to paint a scene from your tale (in conference with you the contributor), which we print in the magazine and then send the signed orginal to you to keep.

The painting does most of the heavy lifting for the article in terms of illustration, so supplementary photos can be almost anything related to the story. The more the merrier, but we quite often run these articles with only a pic of the author and a chart to accompany the painting.

Max length: 3,500 words

Max Photos: 30

See below for How to submit an article with photos



Buyer’s guides and comparative gear tests are highly technical and time-consuming to produce and get right. Get in touch at before you start on a large-scale project of this sort.

If you bought a new item (brand, style, model) for your boat and you would recommend it to other readers, then we will consider a 500 word review with photos. Bear in mind that the item should ideally be new on the market, although a comparison between two established market leaders can be illustrative.

How to submit an article with photos

Should I embed photos?

If your submission looks like this, you may be asked to read this section again and resubmit (probably)

Words and pictures should remain separate when you submit an article for publication. Your thoughts on how the article should be presented visually are important, but they need to be communicated in words (as special instructions) on the article document itself.

A submission that is likely to get published quickly will have the following elements: A single document PLUS a set of photos. The document will not have the photos embedded. This bears repeating: The document will contain the article, captions, contact details, special instructions, measurements, ‘about the author’ – but no images.

The document may contain references to the photos ie. in between paragraphs or sections, indicate which photo file(s) ‘pic 2.jpg’ should come next. But these are not mandatory. Just Don’t insert the photo file into the Word document.

It can seem repetetive: naming the image files on your computer (in the rough order they should appear); inserting [optional] photo references in the article; listing all the image filenames with captions at the end… but it will make reading and reviewing your article easier.

Some General Do’s and Don’ts

*Do include your contact details on the article document

*Do include a photo of you, the author, and 70-100 words ‘About the author’ describing how you got into boating, the boat you own now, where you sail and with whom. Future plans, wishes, regrets… it’s up to you!

*Do type everything on a single document (even if it’s just a long email!). Separate documents for captions, measurements, ‘about the author’ etc could get lost in transit. Keep all written material together, but…

*DON’T embed photos into a word document. Use photo references eg [insert pic 5-9 in this section]. Photos will be required as separate files. Ideally gather all the photo files (each file ideally numbered or named) in a single folder.

*DON’T send us an entire unedited SD card of photos. Make a selection. Name the files (if you know how) on your computer. Type out a caption for each one on the (single) article document.

*DON’T send multiple emails with photos attached. Use a free service such as to send us a single large package: ideally the package should contain 1 written document and anything up to 60 image files.

*Do name or number your photo files (if you know how) so that they sit in a folder in the rough order they should be used in the article

*Do include a list of captions at the end of the article (on the same document – not a separate document)

*Do include photo references within the body of your article: you don’t have to instruct us where to put every single photo, but divide them up into groups by section: eg. <<Section: Preparation [img 5-12]>>

Template PBO article for new writers

Click to view full size: Template PBO article for new writers

If you made it this far, you’ll go far! Just remember, the easier it is for us to read the words, look at the pics and ‘see’ the whole package (NB. homemade pdf layouts on word docs are not easier!), the more likely you are to get published!