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Freelance Writing > Editors > A List of Different Types of Writing and Editing Jobs at Magazines

A List of Different Types of Writing and Editing Jobs at Magazines

Whether you’re looking for a magazine writing job or pitching an article idea, you’ll find this list of editors and writers helpful. Magazine editorial staff ranges from the editor-in-chief to the editorial assistant – and both jobs contain their share of joy and pain!

When I wrote 10 Things You Need to Know About Writing for Reader’s Digest, I didn’t include different types of jobs at magazines. That’s unfortunate, because magazines need staff! Here’s an example of how powerful and effective the job of a magazine editor-in-chief is: “Not long ago, Canada’s oldest women’s magazine seemed headed for irrelevance,” wrote Robert Fulford in Toronto Life in August, 2003. “Under Rona Maynard, however, Chatelaine has been transformed from a glamour and celebrity magazine into a ‘personal empowerment vehicle.’ Today, after 75 years, it’s thriving as never before.”

Rona Maynard was in charge when Chatelaine was dubbed the most financially successful magazine in Canada. She gave it a facelift that included a perkier bottom line – but only after struggling with depression, family problems, and a nasty taste in her mouth from her previous editorial job at Maclean’s.

The road from editorial intern to editor-in-chief can be a long process. It’s also incredibly rewarding! It’s important to remember that a writing career is a business – and whether you are a paid magazine editor or a freelance writer, you are an entrepreneur.

If you want to succeed as a working writer, you must take your job seriously. Make sure that all correspondence – even emails and texts – is professional, grammatically correct, and representative of your writing business. Follow through on your promises, and deliver your best work. Be your best self on Twitter, Facebook, etc; remember that potential editors, publishers, clients, and readers will look you up on social media.

Are you interested in writing for a magazine? Read Freelance Writing Pay Rates for Newspapers and Magazines.

What Are the Different Types of Writing and Editing Jobs at Magazines?
Magazine Writing and Editing Jobs

4 Examples of Magazine Writing and Editing Jobs

The editorial staff at a magazine is similar to a book publishing company. Their hierarchy is similar: editor in chief, managing editor, senior/associate/assistant/specialty editors, copy editor, and editorial assistants. Of course, different companies and magazines have different levels of editorial staff positions, contract writers, and even contract copyeditors.

This is a brief summary of the jobs at a typical magazine, online publication, or publisher.

1. Magazine Editor-in-Chief or Editor

The editor in chief of a magazine is responsible for the editorial content of the magazine. Like a CEO, the editor in chief delegates many responsibilities to other staff at the magazine. If you’re a freelance writer, you wouldn’t normally pitch an article idea to the editor-in-chief (though I have been known to!). As far as job experience goes, editors-in-chief have probably experienced every type of magazine writing job imaginable, from managing editor to editorial intern.

2. Managing Editor

The managing editor reports directly to the editor in chief, and supervises the daily activities of the magazine. The managing editor supervises the staff writers and freelance writers – and is the editor you should pitch your freelance article ideas to! Managing editors also write and edit special projects and feature articles, and can have at least one assistant editor who reports to him or her.

3. Senior, Associate, Assistant, or Specialty Editors

The number and type of senior, associate, assistant, or specialty editors depends on the size and type of the magazine. These editors may double as staff writers – a typical way to start a writing career at a publication or book publisher, whether it’s a trade magazine or a startup ezine – and are often specialists in a certain field (eg, beauty editor, travel editor, etc). These staff writers or editors also do some copyediting.

What type of articles would you write if you were a freelance writer? (sounds like a riddle!) Read 11 Most Popular Types of Magazine Articles – Print & Online.

4. Editorial Assistant Jobs at Magazines

If you want a writing career in the glamorous magazine publishing industry, you’ll probably have to start out as an editorial assistant (or an editorial intern, which isn’t typically a paid position). These are entry level positions, which can involve staff writing and editing. The exact duties of editorial assistants depend on the publication or book publishing company.

Different magazines assign different duties to the managing editors, senior editors, editorial assistants, and editorial interns – depending on the size, budget, and type of magazine. If you want a writing career, it’s important to remember that you have to start on the bottom rung, especially now (many print magazines are struggling financially).

Maynard’s advice to writers and aspiring magazine editors:

“Protect the dreaming, aspiring part of yourself. It’s the keeper of all your strength, all your wisdom. Don’t undermine it with busy work.”

Do you want to work at a magazine? Look for an internship (preferably a paid editorial or writing internship). Consider freelance writing and/or editing even if you have a paid or unpaid internship at a magazine. If you eventually want a staff job at a magazine, get lots of experience and clips. Also, remember that freelancing is full of financial ebbs and flows. Create sources of income that require little or no effort. My goal as a writer and blogger is to enjoy several sources of passive income – I want my past writing efforts to keep paying for my overseas vacations.

In How Do Bloggers Create a Reliable Source of Passive Income? I describe several ways to create a steady income stream as a writer (eg, writing for websites that pay, selling your own e-books, and monetizing your blog). These writing projects can also improve your writing skills, increase your exposure, and give you something to work on when the freelancing gigs get lean and mean.

Your thoughts on magazine and editorial jobs are welcome below!


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16 thoughts on “A List of Different Types of Writing and Editing Jobs at Magazines”

  1. If you’re a freelance writer or blogger, figure out what’s most profitable in your writing career. Understand and apply the 80/20 rule or the “Pareto Principle”: 80% of your sales come from 20% of your clients.
    Are you wasting time on the 80% of clients/editors/publishers that won’t hire or pay you? Figure out your most profitable and enjoyable sources of work, and nurture those relationships. Keep track of how, when, and why you’re making money writing…and let go of the time-wasters that cost you money.
    If you can be a successful freelance writer or editor, you’re more likely to get a great writing or editorial job at a magazine.

  2. Superb blog! Do you have any hints for aspiring writers? I’m planning to start my own blog soon but I’m a little lost on everything. Would you recommend starting with a free platform like WordPress or go for a paid option? There are so many options out there that I’m completely overwhelmed .. Any tips? Many thanks!

  3. Hi Kelley,

    I started out on (free), but quickly realized that I wanted to make money writing. So I transferred to (paid), which was super easy.

    It might be good to start on a free platform, because you can do that immediately. Start playing with WordPress, the themes, the plugins, etc. Then, if you think you want to put your blog to work for you, consider paying for a blog.

    I hope this helps! I know there’s alot to learn when you first get started. If you have more questions, let me know. I may point you to articles I’ve already written, because I’ve written a ton of articles for freelancers 🙂

    All good things,

  4. Laurie Pawlik-Kienlen

    Thanks for your comments — I love hearing from you!

    Alternate income sources for freelance writers are not only crucial for financial peace of mind, they also make freelancing more interesting. I think I’d get bored of just freelancing for magazines or just blogging…I like the diversification of magazine writing, writing for Suite101, web writing, etc.
    .-= Laurie Pawlik-Kienlen´s last blog post ..Setting Money Goals – 6 Tips for Saving $500 a Month =-.

  5. Hi Laurie,
    Thanks for sharing these wonderful tips. I really need to focus on my own blog and also, on networking with other writers and your post has served as a great reminder. Guess am gonna bookmark it and come back to it later as well:-)
    Blessings and best wishes always.
    .-= Prerna´s last blog post ..Finding The Right Coach to Make Work at Home Work {Guest Post} =-.