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How To Write For Trade Magazines

writing for trade magazinesA trade magazine is a magazine written for members an organization or a particular industry or trade.

In contrast, consumer magazines are much more broadly focused and have a potentially much larger audience.

For example, you won’t find a magazine aimed at the plumbing industry at the newsstand in your local supermarket, although you might find articles about plumbing in several magazines there.

The difference is that  Plumbing and Mechanical, one of several plumbing-related trade magazines, addresses the how-to of the plumbing business and other issues of interest to plumbers and those who run plumbing businesses.

In a similar vein, there are many consumer magazines that address hair styles; trade magazines for the hair styling industry help those who work in and own beauty salons run their businesses more efficiently and make more money.

Why Write For Trades

The reason to write for trade magazines is two-fold:

For the most part they are more open to new writers than consumer magazines.

And trade magazines often pay at least as well, and sometimes more as many consumer magazines.

For example, according to Writer’s Market HPAC pays 25 cents a word – not a fortune, but better than content mills. Something called AeroSafty World pays up to $1,500 for a feature.

Plumbing and airplanes not your thing? How about horses, or hospital, or houses or… chances are if you can think of it there’s at least one trade magazine for it.

FYI, Writers Digest and The Writer are only two of the maybe a dozen trades that address parts of our industry.

How To Find Trade Magazines

Writer’s Market lists literally hundreds of trade magazines. In fact it has a whole category called Trade Magazines.

Another approach is to simply google trade magazines. That search will bring up various directories of the publications. Some are better than others, but looking at some of the directories will give you a feel for the wide variety of trade magazines available.

It also works to search for a specific industry or topic. I tried trade magazines for cats and found magazines both for people like vets and pet store owners and for consumers. Searching on trade magazines consumer finance le’s me see all sorts of publications that might be open to an article or even a column for me if I had those credentials.

You can also find trades by asking for them where you shop. Yes, there are trades for supermarkets, specialty markets, coffee, tea, gifts, retail, clothing – the lists just go on.

Don’t overlook organizations and clubs. For example, Rotary, Lions and other service clubs have magazines. So does Toastmasters and Mensa.

How To Approach Trade Magazines

If you find a trade you’re interested in through a market listing there will probably be instructions on how to get a sample copy. Many trade publishers will be happy to send you an issue or two for free. Just pick up the phone and ask. You’ve got to get at least one copy or you’ll not be clear on what the magazine wants.

As usual, if you find a current market listing follow the instructions about queries and submissions.

However, there are a ton of trades out there without market listings. In that case, send a query by email or snail mail. If you’re idea is accepted make sure your clear on how much you’ll be paid and when you’ll be paid before you accept the assignment. Not all trades pay or pay well and most of them don’t have market listings. You may be able to find out if they pay and roughly how much on the magazine’s website, but often you’ll have to ask. Again, you can pick up the phone or you can take time to go through the query process.  It’s up to you to make sure your relationship with the magazine is clear.

You don’t have to be an expert in the field to successfully sell to a trade magazine. You will have to figure out something to say to the readers, but an article on what a consumer really wants from her plumber could work. Read at least one issue of the magazine and let your mind soar.

Not so by the way, credits in trade magazines are golden. It’s not unusual at all for a writer to move from trade to consumer.

If you want to write for publications, trades are a great way to go. Here is a list of 11 trade magazines to get you started.

What trade magazines are you aware of? Have you written for any of them?


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{ 17 comments… add one }
  • Thanks for an enlightening post. I’ve written business communications and PR for healthcare and small businesses for a number of years. I’ve been searching for ways to expand my client offerings and publish my work as well. Writing for the trades fits the bill!
    Marcy Orendorff recently posted..How to turn traditional PR into RP, conversations with Real PeopleMy Profile

  • Margaret Boyes

    I wrote regularly for three trade magazines before the 2008 recession but they’ve all gone out of business. This broke my heart because I had a good income and loved the work.

    After reading the above comments I feel more optimistic. Any suggestions for approaching new ones? Thanks!

    • Those are great credits Margaret, use ’em when you offer your writing talents to other trades.

  • Rex25

    Thanks for the several tips you share with us in creating the trade magazines.

  • Anna

    Trade magazines are great but at some moment, I find it a bit hard to find new and different ones…
    Anna recently posted..dentistsMy Profile

    • Lots of trades for dentists and the like out there.

  • ella

    This is a great idea, I also love using trade mags for ideas and new products because there’s so much to learn in them…more than in consumer magazines for sure
    ella recently posted..Meeting Notes FormatMy Profile

  • Lee Griggs

    I have been writing for trades for years. I love it. It is far easier to pitch an idea to a trade editor than many other publications. Most trade editors are constantly looking for new materials and you can end up writing on a regular basis if you want to. I have written for “Chief of Police”,” Women Police”, “National Locksmith”, “Keynotes”, “Services”, “National Genealogical Society Quarterly”, “Construction Equipment News”, ”Construction Review”, “Time”, “Travel South”, “Carolinas Magazine”, “Blue Ridge Country” Mac Directory”, and many other trades and national publications. A great way to build your portfolio.

    Writing for trades requires research on the author’s part and interviews are always welcome. The writer will find it easier to seek an interview from a public figure when he/she lets them know the article is going to be published in a trade that relates to the subject’s background. I had the opportunity to interview Steve Jobs for an article along with politicians, movie stars, singers, truck drivers and more. Well worth the time and I have a ball doing this — as well as getting paid for it.

    • Thanks for proving my point Lee and sharing your success.

  • Why write for trade magazines? Of course, the exposure, baby!
    Ron’s Copywriting Blog recently posted..Should You Turn Your Blog Into a Book?My Profile

  • I write for many trade magazines, but I put a twist on the approach by ghostwriting the articles. My specialty is insurance and healthcare magazines. Trade publications are always looking for articles from industry leaders. So instead of getting paid by the magazine, I am paid by the person I am ghostwriting for-e.g., brokerage firms, healthcare providers. etc. The article has their name in the byline. It’s great PR for my client and helps establish their firm as a thought leader.

    I really enjoy ghostwriting for trade publications. Generally, ghostwriting pays more and you often don’t have to do the marketing or pitching of the story (my clients or their PR firm generally do the pitching). If you don’t mind the fact that the byline has the name of your client (instead of yours), it’s a great way to go.
    Cathy Miller recently posted..Health Care Tuesday Reviews Report of Americans’ Unhealthy HolidaysMy Profile

    • Cathy, I’m aware of ghosting that way but have never done it. If you want to do a guest post someday…

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