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A FAQ About Writing For Magazines

question marksIs it hard to write for magazines?

Yes, writing for magazines is hard work. In fact, writing is hard work. It takes time to develop your skill, time to develop an idea, real effort to get it written, and even more effort to do the necessary rewriting. Of course, if you work at it you are likely to be successful.

How much competition will I face?

Competition in writing for magazines comes in two forms:

  1. The best known form is those writers whose names you see in the magazines you read.
  2. Less obvious are other freelancers who submit articles and queries that get accepted.

There are far more of the second  second than the first and this is where you’ll start. Keep in mind that many people who managed to get published once or twice or even a dozen times in magazines often give up writing in that field, so there really is room for you if you’re good or become good.  There are even more who submit and get rejected.

As a general rule, consumer magazines (those you see on newsstands)  pay more, they are much harder to sell to simply because of the competition. Another approach is to write for trade magazines.

Trade magazines are those magazines aimed at a particular industry. They are designed to inform, and advertise to, people who work in those industries.

For example, if you want to write about makeup, the obvious place is the woman’s magazines you’re familiar with, and, indeed, this is a possibility. However, at least until you get some credits, writing for the beauty trade itself might make more sense.

Many trade magazines are listed in such resources like Writers Market. You can also try an internet search on (industry name) magazine. Another way to find them is to stop by a shop or office and simply ask about the magazines the people who work there receive.

How much money can I make writing magazine articles?

Like so much in freelance writing, how much you make varies widely. Most magazines pay by the word… as little as one cent per word or even half a cent and as much as $2.00 or more per word. Some magazines offer a flat fee. Obviously, the more you sell, the more you’ll make, and the more you sell to the higher paying magazines, the more you’ll make. Some of the truly big magazines might bring you on staff or as a contributing editor and give you something approaching a living wage. It won’t happen quickly, but it does happen.

Go ahead and shoot for the highest paying, knowing you may have to sell to a magazine that pays less, at least until you’re well established.

Where do I get ideas for magazine articles?

Ideas are everywhere, literally. You could, for instance, turn what you had, or didn’t have, for breakfast this morning into an article.

The trick is honing an idea so it meets a market need – that is, some sort of information a magazine wants its readers to have. Breakfast could, for instance, become 5 Quick and Healthy Breakfast Ideas or How I got my 6-year-old to like oatmeal or even Chocolate for Breakfast? You Bet!

Keep the ideas flowing, but learn to be discerning about them.

You might want to read: Where Do Writers Get Their Ideas?

What’s your experience writing for magazines?


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