Trying to land your first magazine writing job?
When you first started writing professionally, you likely had some ideas of what types of material you wanted to write.
Dreams of being a professional journalist for a newspaper; the next great American novelist or a popular blogger may have filled your head…
Somehow life has “gotten in the way” and you’ve settled into a writing rut.
But these days you don’t have to limit yourself to just one type of writing. If you’ve written exclusively for the web, your content can provide clips for landing your first magazine gig. And that gig can in turn lead to others, starting you on a new path of income and helping you get closer to your income goals.
Just saying that you want to write for a magazine can seem like a daunting and impossible task. But if you break it down into manageable steps and stay focused and organized, you’ll soon have your first article published.
Write What You Know: Find a Topic
The best writing advice anyone can give is that old standby: write what you know.
When you write what you know, you can be authoritative on the subject and impart true knowledge, making your writing authentic and interesting for readers. This goes back to The Right Knowledge Pillar of success I teach as an essential step to becoming a high-earning freelance writer.
One of my first experiences writing for the web was in the luxury lifestyle arena. I love writing about fashion and new designers and shops opening all over the world. In my town, I noticed a sudden surge of higher-end boutiques opening, giving people more options to buy unique clothing rather than heading to the chain stores at the mall. So I pitched a new local magazine that focuses on the finer things in life about doing an article on the shops found in a certain area of town. The editor went for it and I landed my first magazine gig!
Set a Goal: Local or National
Admittedly, my first magazine article writing experience was a little “rocky.” I didn’t really know what to expect or have much experience in writing a query. In fact, I didn’t even know what a query was. So instead, I just emailed the editor of a local magazine with my idea…a simple, one sentence email that included my web clips.
I lucked out, because it happened to be on par with the magazine’s general theme and that month’s specific focus.
My first experience landing a magazine gig was completely haphazard, but yours shouldn’t be. Instead of just blindly dashing off an email to the first editor you come across, take some time to think about what kind of magazine your experience would fit into.
Do you have an idea that would capture the attention of a major national magazine?
Maybe it fits into a regular column or applies to a wide range of people.
Or maybe you have noticed something affecting your region or want to be part of your local community.
Deciding to what your knowledge and experience speaks can help you decide whether your pitch is best suited for a national or local audience.
If you can’t decide which national magazine to query, a Google search should help:
As you can see, there are enough national magazines to keep you busy, sending out queries for a while.
Reach Out: LinkedIn and Google
LinkedIn can be a helpful resource if you are still lost on the type of magazine.
Join a group that fits your interest and take advice from other writers who post, or contact them for specific advice on how to build your background. This is especially important if you don’t have a lot of clips. You may be able to find other opportunities to help build your background and show that you are a valid writer.
It’s easy to find magazine writer groups on LinkedIn, simply type your search terms into the search bar and see your results.
Google is an invaluable tool when it comes to finding contact information. You may know the publication or publications you want to contact, but you need to find out the name of the editor so you can personalize your query and direct your email.
Using Google, search “editor @magazine” or “editor’s name @magazine.” This way, you can find contact information, usually email in the digital age, and sometimes other contact information as well that you can use to submit your article idea.
For example, if you’re seeking an editor at a lifestyle magazine or Lifestyle magazine, these would be your results:
If you want more detailed strategies like these on how to find writing clients and magazine editors, download my Free eBook “The Freelance Writer’s Complete Strategy Guide to Winning High-Quality Clients.” Steal my pitch emails and learn my “spy and conquer” method for uncovering potential freelance writing clients. Get it now!
Query Letter and Follow-up:
Once you know who and how to contact, you’ll need a query letter. Most publications don’t want complete written articles (although there are rare exceptions).
A query letter should be a brief, to-the-point introduction of both yourself and your article idea. Include information about yourself, such as: what you’ve written, for whom and any awards or special attention you’ve received. But tailor the letter so that it shows how you fit within their organization and how your article idea can help solve their need. Researching the magazine’s mission statement and writing style will be of great benefit here.
And feel free to follow up if you don’t hear back for a while, drawing attention to your earlier query without rewriting it completely.
Other Magazine Opportunities:
If your writing experience, talent or interests don’t fit into local or national magazines, then fear not. There are other avenues that you may be better suited for.
Many companies have magazines they use to impart information either to other members of their organization, or to their clients. These opportunities can be quite lucrative because they don’t have the glitz and glamour of a national glossy, but they do have a large customer base and want to attract good writers.
Some of these magazines have moved online and others are only found online. These magazines typically cover products and services that they want their customers to know about. They probably include many of the same stores at which you commonly shop or have products you use so you may have a basic knowledge here.
Another thing to keep in mind is that new magazines are constantly appearing, in a variety of fields, from technology to farm living. Again, using Google, you can find a list of new magazines that have launched and then research each magazine to make sure it is still in circulation, find an editor to contact and start on landing your first magazine gig.
Keep in mind…
Landing a magazine gig can sound much more daunting than it really is. Following these steps can help keep you organized as you begin to break into magazine writing. After your pitch is approved, it’s simply a matter of following through with edits and rewrites before you get your first paycheck!
Do you have any other tips to landing your first magazine writing job? Please share them with our readers!
And don’t forget to check out my other blog posts about freelance writing jobs.
By the way, are you trying to find a new freelance writing job, but running out of places to look? I can help you out! Visit The Ultimate List of Freelance Writing Jobs and 100+ Paying Websites.