11 Types of Articles to Write for Magazines
These examples of different types of articles to write for magazines include round ups, profiles, research shorts, and “how to” articles. Perfect for freelance writers who need to spark their creativity and get more article assignments.
If you’re serious about writing for magazines, invest in a subscription to Writer’s Digest magazine. The more you learn about freelance writing – including the business of writing – the easier it’ll be to remember the different types of magazine articles you can write for magazines.
Here’s a tip from Natalie Goldberg about being a successful writer: “I hear people say they’re going to write. I ask, when? They give me vague statements,” writes Goldberg in Thunder and Lightning: Cracking Open the Writer’s Craft. “Indefinite plans get dubious results.”
What are your writing goals, and how will you achieve them? Have you made a specific plan? You know how to search for the different types of articles for magazines…and when you get to the bottom of this post, you’ll need to start setting specific, concrete goals for how to write an article.
11 Different Types of Magazine Articles
I’ve written each one of these different types of magazine articles, except for the exposé. My favorite is writing research shorts for magazines – but they are just that (short!) and thus don’t pay much.
Let me know in the comments section below which type of article you like reading. Guess what? That may be your favorite type of magazine article to write!
1. How-to Articles:
- Make a rousing promise of success
- Describe what you need in easy to follow instructions
- Give step-by-step directions (sometimes with subtitles)
- Include shortcomings or warnings
- Tell how to locate supplies
- Give proofs and promises
- Make referrals to other sources
Examples of the how-to article are: “How to Write Articles for Magazines” or “How Freelance Writers Earn a $100,000 Every Year” or How to Think Like an Editor – 8 Tips for Writers. How to articles are my favorite type of feature articles — they simply tell readers how to do something.
Some magazine or newspaper editors require writers to submit their own photos for how-to articles. Before you accept an assignment from an editor, ask what the photo policy is.
2. Profile and Interview Articles:
- Have different definitions. In a profile, you use additional sources, such as friends, family, kids, neighbors, colleagues. In a profile, you interview the source him or herself.
- Can have a theme or focus.
- Can be presented as a “Q & A” or a written article.
- Require strong interviewing skills for the “best” information
Examples of profiles or interview articles are: “The Real Natalie Goldberg and Her Real Writing Career” or “Anne Lamott Shares Her Secrets for Writing Different Types of Magazine Articles.” Profiles and interview are two different types of magazine articles to write.
5 Writing Secrets From William Shakespeare is NOT an example of an interview article! 🙂
3. Informative or Service Articles:
- Focus on one unique aspect, or the “handle”
- Describe what-to, how-to, when-to, why-to, etc.
- Answer the journalist’s who, what, when, where, why, and how questions
- Can end with a “how-to” piece as a sidebar
Examples of this type of magazine article include: “How to Write Query Letters for Magazines” or “How to Make an Editorial Calendar for Writers” or “11 Types of Magazine Articles to Write for Magazines.”
The informative or service article is similar to the how-to type of magazine article. I’d love to write a service article for the SPCA, but I’m too busy with my blogs to pitch article ideas to editors.
4. The Exposé:
- Shocks or surprises readers
- Includes statistics, quotes, anecdotes
- Can range from how extension cords can kill to new info on Watergate
Examples of an exposé magazine article are: “Stephen King’s Ghostwriter Reveals Secret Writing Career” or “95% of Natalie Goldberg’s Writing is From a Ghostwriter!” Those aren’t actual feature articles that were written by freelance writers – they’re just examples of the different types of magazine articles.
5. Human Interest Magazine Articles:
- Usually start with an anecdote
- Are often chronologically organized
Examples of human interest magazine articles are: “Anne Lamott Share Her Experience as a Single Working Writer” or “Mark Twain’s Great-Grandaughter Finds Her Writing Niche.” This type of feature article interests the majority of readers of a particular magazine.
People is one of the most popular magazines on the market today, and it specializes in this type of article. If you find someone who has done or experienced something extraordinary – and if your writing skills are pretty good – you might consider sending a query letter to the editors at People.
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6. Essay or Opinion Articles:
- Usually revolve around an important or timely subject (if they’re to be published in a newspaper or “serious” magazine)
- Are harder to sell if you’re an unknown or unpublished writer
- Can be found on blogs all over the internet!
Examples of this type of magazine article are: “What I Think of Natalie Goldberg’s Decision to Retire From Her Writing Career” or “Anne Lamott’s Writing Mistakes.”
If you feel overwhelmed with all these types of magazine articles, read How to Write When You Have No Ideas.
7. Humor or Satire Articles:
- Usually have a specific audience, such as the readers of The Onion
- Are usually written on spec (that is, you submit the whole article before the editors or publishers will accept it)
Humor or Satire pieces are the most difficult types of magazines articles to write. Why? Because being funny is hard. You’d think it’d be easy, but it’s actually harder than brain surgery.
Examples of humor or satire articles might include: “Ode to Stephen King’s Typewriter” or “What Margaret Laurence Ate the Day She Started Writing Articles for Magazines.”
8. Historical Articles:
- Reveal events of interest to millions (which means at least one of my examples wouldn’t work as this type of article)
- Focus on a single aspect of the subject
- Are organized chronologically
- Tell readers something new
- Go beyond history to make a current connection
Examples of this type of magazine article include: “The Typewriter Mark Twain First Used” or “How Freelance Writers Submitted Articles Before Typewriters Were Invented.”
9. Inspirational Magazine Articles:
- Describe how to feel good or how to do good things
- Can describe how to feel good about yourself – this type of article can work for anyone from writers to plumbers to pilots
- Offer a moral message
- Focus on the inspirational point
Examples of different types of inspirational articles for magazines are: “How You Can Change the World With Your Writing Career” or “13 Tips to Improve Your Writing Confidence.”
This is probably my second most favorite type of feature article to write. It’s definitely the post I write most often on my Blossom blogs!
10. Round-Up Magazine Articles:
- Gather a collection from many sources
- Focus on one theme
- Offer quotations, opinions, statistics, research studies, anecdotes, recipes, etc.
The Round-Up was one of my favorite types of magazine articles to write when I was freelancing. Examples of round up articles are: “12 Fiction Writing Tips From Authors and Editors” or “1,001 Types of Articles to Write for Magazines.” I enjoy writing round-ups because I can squeeze in lots of information in 1,000 words.
11. Research Shorts:
- Describe current scientific information
- Are usually less than 250 words long
- Are often written on spec (at least by me)
- Are fast, effective ways to earn money as a freelance writer – if you can find the right markets
Research Shorts for the “Front of the Book” are those little blurbs of scientific research you see at the beginning of many magazines. Examples of these types of articles for magazines include: “How Alliteration Affects Your Memory” or “What Anne Lamott’s Writing Does to Your Brain Waves.”
Shorts aren’t really a type of magazine article, but they’re a great way to get your foot in the door and learn what articles editors will pay to publish.
Help Selling Your Magazine Articles
Writer’s Market Deluxe Edition 2016: The Most Trusted Guide to Getting Published is still the best way to find magazines and markets to write for.
This edition includes all-new material devoted to the business and promotion of freelance and other types of writing. I love Writer’s Market because they always share the secrets of six-figure freelancers, how to create a productive home office, and apps that make freelancing easier, etc. Plus, these editors teach writers how to build relationships in the publishing business, use video to promote your work, and remove obstacles from your path to freelance writing success.
If you want to be a freelance writer, you have to do more than just learn about the different types of magazine articles to write for magazines. You need to learn about professional writing organizations, how to write query letters, and where to pitch your ideas.
May you write strong and true, fellow scribes. If you have any thoughts or questions about writing these types of feature articles, please comment below…
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