One reason why everyone wants to write for magazines is the ability to explore issues in depth. If you think you are good at writing feature articles, it’s worth it to pursue magazines.
Just like newspapers, many major magazines have shuttered, reduced the number of editions or gone to online only editions. However, there are still a lot of magazines out there looking for interesting stories.
Another reason to pursue magazines is their willingness to consider freelance writers. Newspapers do accept freelance pieces, but most of their major stories are covered by staff.
There are many different types of writing you can do for magazines, including news stories, features, reviews, opinion and literary non-fiction. Often you will have more success as a new freelance writer by pitching the smaller sections at the front of the magazine.
If you are just starting out in writing for magazines, focus your efforts on smaller publications. These can include local lifestyle publications, free magazines and trade magazines. Writing for smaller magazines will allow you to develop a portfolio, which can lead to bigger opportunities down the road.
How to get started
Before you pitch to a magazine, do your research.
Read copies of the magazine for the past few years. You don’t want to pitch something that has been done recently. Familiarize yourself with the tone and style of the magazine and make sure your pitch is inline with the type of material they publish. Many magazines publish their old editions as PDFs on their websites. You can also find them on magazine reader apps or at the local library. Your local library may subscribe to a magazine reader app.
Review the editorial calendar. You might be able to find it on the website. Some magazines will publish editions based on a theme. Lifestyle magazines will follow holidays and seasons. Many magazines will publish their editorial calendars in order to give a heads up to advertisers. Try to pitch months in advance.
Most magazines also have submission guidelines on their site. Read these carefully before submitting. You will likely need to write a query letter based on these guidelines.
Also, view the editors on the masthead or website contact page and make sure you are pitching to the right person. Address your pitch to an actual person, not “to whom it may concern.”
Stay on top of the industry news related to the field of the magazine. Generic stories won’t attract their attention. You need to come up with ideas that are fresh and different.
Don’t be afraid of rejection. You will receive lots of rejection emails at any stage of your freelance writing career. If you are lucky, the editor will tell you why they are not interested. Read the email for clues and try again with a different topic or refine your topic according to the expectations. One rejection doesn’t mean the editor never wants to hear from you again.
Check out the e-book, How to Become a Journalist Without a Degree, for more information about pitching, writing features and more.