Writing for magazines can be a lot of fun, and lucrative too. Consider however that beyond money, being published in top tier magazines gives you prestige. When you have magazine writing credits, your stocks as a writer go up. Not only will businesses and sometimes other publications ask you to write for them, book acquisitions editors and literary agents may approach you too, if you’re covering hot stories.
Writing for Magazines: My Top 10 Tips
I gave you these top ten tips on writing for magazines last year:
1. Love a magazine? Send them a query
2. Keep sending queries, even if they ignore you
3. Look for ideas, everywhere
4. Think beyond the newsstand
5. Companies publish, too: custom magazines are lucrative
6. Pick a topic, research it, develop a slant
7. Forget your doubt, send it out
8. Pick up the phone: research your ideas
9. Set process goals: productivity is everything
10. Just write it: nothing you write is ever wasted
Get more information in the article here.
Today, let’s look at what it takes to be published in top magazines. In a word, it takes IDEAS.
Writing for magazines? Become an IDEA machine
I wrote for magazines for 15 years. At the time, I kept four journals, and one journal was devoted just to ideas for magazine articles. Not only did I explore my own life for ideas, I kept up with the news religiously, and subscribed to dozens of magazines.
Here are some tips for becoming an idea machine. By the way, these ideas work not only for writing for magazines, but for writing for any kind of publication, online, or offline.
1. Set targets for how many queries you’ll send out per day/ week
Most writers adore research, and we can research endlessly, kidding ourselves that research is “work.” So set targets now. At the height of my magazine writing, I produced FIVE queries a day, five days a week: 25 queries a week.
I’d mix up the magazine querying with sending proposals to businesses, because many magazines pay on publication; often a month or two after publication. I like being PAID, so business writing kept my motivation high.
2. Read the magazines you’re querying, religiously (not optional)
Read all the magazines for which you’re writing, or for which you want to write. I know you think you can shoot a magazine a query without reading it, and of course you can. But if you want to sell your writing, you’ll read the publications.
3. Idea gold mines: the news, and press releases
Magazines demand freshness. Fresh ideas (even though they may be new slants on old ideas) and fresh insights. Get them by staying up to date in your subject matter. Create Google alerts for topics, and sign up for mailings from press release websites.
In any area, there are large companies which dominate an industry. In tech, that’s companies like Apple and Google. Look for the “media” centers on these companies’ websites, and sign up to receive their press releases.
Additionally, follow leading lights of your chosen industries on social media. You’re not looking for a scoop, as much as you’re looking for fresh insights, and trends.
4. Journal it — you need lots of input, and thinking
Let’s say you cover fitness and health. You need to keep track of lots of information. You need to think about what you’ve learned too. The easiest way to do that is to keep a journal. Your journal will help you to come up with fresh ideas on shop-worn topics, and that’s your job as a magazine writer.
Your journal also helps you to track people in an industry. Let’s say a new weight loss pill has been released. Add the names of the media spokespeople, and the experts mentioned in articles, to your journal. I suggest Evernote for your magazine writing journal, because it helps you to track information — you can save your searches, and can group notes together with Tables of Contents.
Look for further opportunities NOW
Writing for magazines can be fun. If you love the areas you’re covering, you won’t find the research and interviews a chore. Be aware however that sooner or later you will burn out on it. Look for opportunities beyond magazine writing, for when that happens.
In the later years of my magazine writing career, I transitioned to ghostwriting, and to writing business books for major publishers. That’s the big benefit of writing for magazines. You’ll get known, and you’ll get offers to do other things. One of my friends went into PR from magazine writing, and another has gone on to editing books.
Want more on magazine writing? Discover how you can develop a magazine writing career.