Writing articles for magazines isn’t as hard as you think. Yes, there’s lots of competition. Sure, you’ll receive more rejections from editors and publishers than acceptances. But that’s actually good news, because it discourages other writers! And that leaves the freelance writing field open for smart cookies like you.
How do you start writing for magazines? These five tips are from The Complete Idiot’s Guide to Publishing Magazine Articles. Sheree Bykofsky and Jennifer Basye Sander’s tips are perfect for aspiring authors and journalists who know that learning how to become a freelance writer is the perfect place to start.
Here’s one of my most valuable tips – let’s call it Starter Tip #1: Don’t get all your tips on how to write for magazines from the most popular writing blogs and websites. Why not? Because every writer is following the same advice. Instead, read books and visit blogs that offer advice you don’t can’t easily access. If serious about writing for magazines, you need to step away from the masses and do what other writers don’t do.
The internet (magazine writing websites, popular blogs for writers, aspiring authors Facebook groups, etc) are good places to get free, general information. More good news: most writers only do a fraction of all the recommended tips and best practices. This means that if you follow even just 50% of all the tips for writing for magazines, you’re miles ahead of other writers.
My writing tips are primarily from old and recently published print books on journalism and trade magazine writing. These books have information you won’t find online — and they also get us offline and into print! If you want to write for a print magazine, read print books and magazines. Go where you want to be.
How to Start Writing for Magazines
According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor statistics, the employment of writers and editors is expected to rise by 8 percent over the next five years. Does this just include freelance writing for magazines, or are “content creators” for big business websites and smaller independently owned blogs included? Doesn’t matter. Either way, it is possible to learn how make money as a freelance writer!
Successfully earning a living by writing for magazines really isn’t as hard as you think. But it is a full-time job that needs to be taken seriously.
2. Do not procrastinate – especially when you get an assignment
Writing for magazines is a job; successful working writers do not get “writer’s block.” When you get a magazine assignment from an editor, do not procrastinate. Start researching, brainstorming, and finding experts to interview immediately. Make sure you understand the assignment sheet (“specs”), ask the editor questions about confusing or conflicting statements, and start thinking about your article.
Also – contact possible interviewees and expert sources as soon as possible. Don’t leave interviews until the last minute or expect them to adjust their schedule to fit your deadline. Your editor doesn’t want to hear about the problems you had writing for the magazine, finding or interviewing sources, or submitting the article. Your editor just wants your article on time.
Speaking of editors, read Want to Make Money Writing? Build Relationships With Editors.
3. Read the “Letters To and From the Editor” in past issues
This is an excellent starter tip for writing for magazines, newspapers, trade papers, and even academic journals. The more you know about the magazine editor – personality, lifestyle, family, location, quirks, likes, dislikes – the easier it’ll be to find an angle or article idea that suits the magazine.
The most successful working writers are chameleons. They blend into the background when they’re writing for magazines. Successful writers become such a vital part of the magazine, article, or even the topic that they aren’t even visible. (This tip wasn’t from The Complete Idiot’s Guide to Publishing Magazine Articles. I just now made it up.).
4. Learn how to research efficiently and effectively
Whether you’re hoping to start writing articles for traditional print magazines or online news websites, you need to have the best and most reliable information sources. Do not regurgitate fake news or even report on old research studies (which are often proven false in newer, more current research) — unless the news or results are still sound.
If I’d written a blog post called “How to Research Articles for Magazines” I’d include the link here. But alas, such a post does not exist! Tell in me in the comments section below if you want me to write this article. Be happy to.
5. Always be reading a book on how to write for magazines
If this tip was in The Complete Idiot’s Guide to Publishing Magazine Articles, I missed it. This is professional advice that fits all careers, jobs, industries, and even serious hobbyists. Never stop learning about freelance writing for magazines! Always be improving your skills, talking to editors, learning about the publishing industry, and connecting with other freelance writers. Go to writing conferences.
Here’s an example of how the Writer’s Digest Guide to Magazine Article Writing: A Practical Guide to Selling Your Pitches, Crafting Strong Articles, & Earning More Bylines instantly improved my writing: it has a whole page describing the importance of using transitions to guide your reader from idea to idea.
I’m an experienced writer, but I used their tips for transitions in this blog post. Successful writers are always picking up, dusting off, and applying new writing tips.
Do you struggle to find good article ideas? Read 11 Most Popular Types of Magazine Articles – Print & Online. Or maybe you’re more interested in learning about the Freelance Writing Pay Rates for Newspaper and Magazine Articles.
Feel free to write your little heart out below 🙂