Are You Interested In Freelance Writing For Magazines?
If you’ve ever been in a waiting room, I’m sure you’ve picked up a magazine to pass the time while waiting for your name to be called. It’s a natural thing to do, and it’s better than staring at the wall. The time just seems to pass by faster when we occupy our minds with something.
Maybe you’ve read an article, and thought to yourself, “I can write better than that.” Or, “I’ve had a similar experience that people might like to read about.”
You may have some great article ideas, but don’t know how to write for a magazine. This post is intended to get you on the right track to earning some good money writing for magazines.
While some magazines use exclusively in-house talent for their articles, there are hundreds, even thousands of magazines that get their content from freelance writers.
Let’s take Reader’s Digest as an example. First published in 1922, the magazine currently publishes 10 issues per yer.
While many of its article assignments are given to regular contributors, you can submit a one-page query letter of your idea for a story or article to the magazine for consideration.
As with all magazines, Reader’s Digest publishes guidelines for freelancers to contact them and submit writing ideas.
Here’s a partial screenshot of the magazine’s guidelines, from their web page:
One of the easiest ways to break in with the magazine is to submit a joke or a humorous story. They pay $25 for a joke that they publish, and $100 for a humorous story. The submission form is on their website so you don’t even have to query beforehand. I’ll link to it here.
If you want to start off running, I also found a post online in a blog called Freedom With Writing by Ian Chandler that lists 11 magazines that pay $150 for an article. Here’s the link, and here’s the list.
- High Country News
- New Jersey Family Magazine
- Whole Life Times
- Bee Culture
- New Mobility
- The California Sunday Magazine
- B. Michelle Pippen
- The Objective Standard
- Field & Stream
Steps To Take
If you are serious about becoming a freelance magazine writer
Do Your Research
There are some steps that you need to do to break in and get your share of income from writing magazine articles. The first thing that you need to do is, after you have targeted a publication, is to do your research. You should study the entire magazine for a couple of issues, at least, to get a feel for the kind and style of writing that they are looking for.
Look at how published articles in the magazine are written, how long they are, what kind of illustrations go with the article, what style they are written in. Study how the articles end. Do they end with a summary, or some other way. Your best bet to get accepted is to write in the style the magazine uses.
You also need to find the current submissions editor. These people get dozens of submissions every day, and if they get one that’s addressed to the wrong editor, it most likely goes in the trash without being opened. These editors are very busy people and have little patience for writers who don’t do their research.
Brainstorm Article Ideas
Depending on the magazine, there are lots of ideas you could write about. Local events that might have a larger interest could be a candidate for a good article.
Your own experiences, or the experiences of others is another source.
Look for ideas that you don’t find in published issues, or offshoot ideas from stories already published.
Trade magazines are specific, look for ideas in the niche the magazine targets.
Get Submission Guidelines
Submission guidelines will let you know how far ahead of publication the magazine needs to receive submissions. Many publications are looking for submissions now that will be published six months or a year into the future. Make sure your submissions are done soon enough to be relevant
You also need to know how to submit an article to a publication. That means that you should know how to write a compelling query letter. They should be short and sweet. Remember, editors are very busy people. Get their attention quickly and don’t waste their time.
A one-page Letter of Inquiry should be sufficient. Include:
- Say that you are freelance
- Mention that you are familiar with their magazine
- Pitch your qualifications and your article idea
- If you have a referral, give contact information
Writer’s Market has a Query Letter Clinic posted online that will give you the steps you need, plus samples of good and bad query letters. Here’s the link. It’s worth your time to take a look at it.
Write and Re-write
You might think that your first draft is good enough, but remember, you’re working with editors who read hundreds of articles each month and can spot poorly written work quickly. If you make contact by phone, ask specific questions about what the editor is looking for in the article. Try to produce what they want as closely as you can.
Submit On Time, Or Early
Don’t miss a deadline. Get your work in when the editor wants it, and when you do, pitch another idea. The editor might be receptive to giving you another assignment while he or she has your work in hand. Be sure to submit following the publication’s guidelines. Don’t email an article if the guidelines say to mail it in, or vice versa.
Be professional. And invest in a book called Writer’s Market. It will give you hundreds of publications to contact and training on how to get started.
Don’t Put All Your Eggs In One Basket
While you’re breaking in with freelance magazine writing, why don’t you do something else with your writing talent to make money. You can earn a good income blogging. I belong to a training platform called Wealthy Affiliate that trains people like you and me to earn passive income with affiliate marketing by writing a blog.
Initial sign-up is free. The first 10 lessons are free. Even the first two websites are free. Take a look at it. If you can write, and you have to be able to write to get published in a magazine, then be proactive and start to blog with Wealthy Affiliate training. It will keep your writing skills honed and give you valuable experience.
You can sign up by tapping on the banner.
The FTC requires a disclosure that this post contains affiliate links. If you click on one and purchase a product, I will earn a commission. That’s what Wealthy Affiliate teaches you to do.
Thanks for reading my post and good luck in your writing career. Write me a comment if you have any questions or ideas.