If you want to write magazine articles for a living, it can be a very lucrative industry to get into, if you do it right. Some magazines will pay several hundred dollars ( or a lot more) for a good quality and well researched article
But before you put pen to paper (or fingers to keyboard) first you need to know the basics of writing good quality magazine articles.
First of all you have to know your market. This means having knowledge of what type of readers the magazine targets.
For instance, you might want to write an article for a women’s magazine. But first you have to know what type of women read the magazine.
Are they career women? Stay at home mothers? Young women? Older women? Oversized women?
You see, sometimes it’s not as easy as you think to know exactly what type of readers read which type of magazine.
There are even magazines aimed at writers but some are aimed at fiction writers while others are aimed at medical writers, non-fiction writers, online writers, SEO writers, copywriters – and the list goes on.
That’s why it’s so important to first of all know the type of readers that the magazine appeals to.
Next you need to read at least one issue. You may get away with reading a few articles online. But nothing beats holding a physical copy of a magazine in your hands for getting a good idea of what the magazine is about.
If you don’t want to have to go out and buy a magazine, see if your public library has a few issues, or loiter in your local newsagents and scan through a few magazines. Or if you have to fly somewhere, the airport magazine stores are a great place for research.
Next you have to decide what it is you know (or you can research) that will appeal to the magazine editors.
But don’t make the mistake of coming up with a similar idea to the types of articles that the magazine already publishes. Come up with a much better idea instead.
When it comes to pitching article ideas to a magazine editor, it’s better to pitch something that stands out, rather than something that fits in.
But don’t be too different. Just be better.
Think about what the magazine is missing. Perhaps there’s another angle that isn’t being looked at in the current and past articles. Sometimes, articles that open a proverbial ‘can of worms’ produce plenty of feedback, which is what the editors love.
Or think about writing a series of articles of perhaps 2 or 3 articles on an on-going topic. Editors love these kind of articles too because it entices the readers to buy the next issue and the next. Just make sure that your articles end on a hook that keeps your readers wanting to find out more.
And lastly, what you must do is find the magazine’s writers’ guidelines and follow them to the max. If you can’t find the guidelines anywhere, email the editor and ask for them.
All magazines have guidelines for submissions and queries and they expect them to be followed. They don’t like working with difficult writers (and there are quite a few) who won’t follow instructions. And if you don’t submit your work correctly, they won’t want to do business with you.
So what you need to do next is look around online for websites with lists of worldwide magazines and newspapers or go to your local library and borrow the Writers’ and Artists’ Year Book or the current Writers’ Digest. Or better still look at some magazines while you’re there.
And start looking for article ideas.
You could also look for readers’ letters, handy tips, jokes, flash fiction and any other short submissions the magazines are looking for because these can earn you a good rate of pay per hour for such short items.
In some magazines a reader’s letter will pay up to $100 when published. That’s a good return for only 5 minute’s work.
So start submitting queries. Aim to submit 5 every week and that way, you’ll be on your way to a full-time freelance writer in no time.