You should read this post about Nate Thayer's negotiations with The Atlantic about a piece they wanted him to write. Here's the climax:
Thanks for responding. Maybe by the end of the week? 1,200 words? We unfortunately can’t pay you for it, but we do reach 13 million readers a month. I understand if that’s not a workable arrangement for you, I just wanted to see if you were interested.
The Atlantic, of course, was heralded in 2011 as being a "successful" magazine. Maybe we ought to rethink our idea of what "success" means. I came to this post from MG Siegler's parislemon. Siegler points out that Marco Arment's The Magazine, which is digital and subscriber-only, reaches a much smaller audience but pays $800 an article. Maybe the biggest audience isn't what matters. Maybe what matters is finding quality readers.