How to Write a Magazine Article
Writing a magazine, or feature, article differs from newspaper articles in that most magazines allow more space to develop a story (the article is longer) and more time to research it. Writing for a news magazine most resembles newspaper articles. In any case, it is still important in this form of journalism to answer the five questions: Who? What (or what happened)? When? Where? Why? How? WhiteSmoke (who) provides you with the best online English writing software (what) whenever you are writing (when), in any software program you use anywhere in the world (where), because its unique all-in-one-solution includes English grammar software , spell check software, an online dictionary , a thesaurus software , and exclusive writing enhancement tool in one easy-to-use interface (why and how). The rest of a magazine article elaborates on these questions, often in some detail. A feature article in particular will go in depth on a subject, giving readers background and perspective on "the story behind a story" or "the person behind a story." Another type of feature article, the travel article, focuses on a place or event where readers might like to go (or just to know about). Magazine articles include photos and graphic art more often than newspaper articles. Sometimes a magazine article is an extended interview with a famous person, an important person, or an interesting person. If you want to be paid to write an article, here are some article writing tips:
- Read the magazine that you want to publish your article in so that you are very familiar with its style, themes, format and the other writers
- Check the masthead of the magazine to see its policies about accepting unsolicited articles--most require a query letter
- Make sure you have researched the topic you will write about thoroughly
- Write a good query letter--be sure to use WhiteSmoke English grammar software as editors don't like errors in query letters
- o Include information about any past publications o Provide background on the story and how it fits into the magazine's format and content--show your familiarity with the magazine o List any sources and special expertise you have related to the article o Discuss how you envision approaching the subject in your article
5. Continue researching your article, but don't start writing until you've heard from the editor, who might suggest a different direction, other sources, or even a different subject 6. Once the editor has given the green light, write the article 7. Use WhiteSmoke's dictionary and thesaurus to find the precise language you need for your article 8. Use WhiteSmoke English grammar check and spell check to prevent errors 9. Finish on-time and to-length--follow the writing guidelines, provided by the editor, in the magazine, or on its web site, exactly 10. Use WhiteSmoke English writing software as you write--you will write a better article if you do! To write a good magazine article, use WhiteSmoke English writing software. This English grammar software will check spelling, punctuation, and grammar. It will suggest strong words to improve your writing, including adjectives and adverbs. Its dictionary and thesaurus will assure that you can choose the word that precisely fits your meaning. Buy WhiteSmoke now, for all of your writing needs!
- How to Write an Anniversary Letter
- How to Write a Research Paper
- How to Write a Living Will
- How to Write a Letter of Intent
- How to Write a Complaint Letter about an Unfair Settlement
- How to Write a Biography
WhiteSmoke Mobile Demo
Not sure how to correctly phrase something.
There’s no need to search the web for help! Just install our free Chrome Add-on!
Four Free Products In One!
- EXPLORE Coupons Tech Help Pro Random Article About Us Quizzes Contribute Train Your Brain Game Improve Your English Popular Categories Arts and Entertainment Artwork Books Movies Computers and Electronics Computers Phone Skills Technology Hacks Health Men's Health Mental Health Women's Health Relationships Dating Love Relationship Issues Hobbies and Crafts Crafts Drawing Games Education & Communication Communication Skills Personal Development Studying Personal Care and Style Fashion Hair Care Personal Hygiene Youth Personal Care School Stuff Dating All Categories Arts and Entertainment Finance and Business Home and Garden Relationship Quizzes Cars & Other Vehicles Food and Entertaining Personal Care and Style Sports and Fitness Computers and Electronics Health Pets and Animals Travel Education & Communication Hobbies and Crafts Philosophy and Religion Work World Family Life Holidays and Traditions Relationships Youth
- HELP US Support wikiHow Community Dashboard Write an Article Request a New Article More Ideas...
- EDIT Edit this Article
- PRO Courses Guides New Tech Help Pro Expert Videos About wikiHow Pro Coupons Quizzes Upgrade Sign In
- Browse Articles
- Learn Something New
- Train Your Brain
- Improve Your English
- Explore More
- Support wikiHow
- About wikiHow
- H&M Coupons
- Hotwire Promo Codes
- StubHub Discount Codes
- Ashley Furniture Coupons
- Blue Nile Promo Codes
- NordVPN Coupons
- Samsung Promo Codes
- Chewy Promo Codes
- Ulta Coupons
- Vistaprint Promo Codes
- Shutterfly Promo Codes
- DoorDash Promo Codes
- Office Depot Coupons
- adidas Promo Codes
- Home Depot Coupons
- DSW Coupons
- Bed Bath and Beyond Coupons
- Lowe's Coupons
- Surfshark Coupons
- Nordstrom Coupons
- Walmart Promo Codes
- Dick's Sporting Goods Coupons
- Fanatics Coupons
- Edible Arrangements Coupons
- eBay Coupons
- Log in / Sign up
- Education and Communications
How to Write a Magazine Article
Last Updated: February 28, 2023 References Approved
This article was co-authored by Gerald Posner . Gerald Posner is an Author & Journalist based in Miami, Florida. With over 35 years of experience, he specializes in investigative journalism, nonfiction books, and editorials. He holds a law degree from UC College of the Law, San Francisco, and a BA in Political Science from the University of California-Berkeley. He’s the author of thirteen books, including several New York Times bestsellers, the winner of the Florida Book Award for General Nonfiction, and has been a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize in History. He was also shortlisted for the Best Business Book of 2020 by the Society for Advancing Business Editing and Writing. There are 7 references cited in this article, which can be found at the bottom of the page. wikiHow marks an article as reader-approved once it receives enough positive feedback. This article has 12 testimonials from our readers, earning it our reader-approved status. This article has been viewed 919,320 times.
Magazine articles can be a big boost for seasoned freelance writers or writers who are trying to jump-start their writing careers. In fact, there are no clear qualifications required for writing magazine articles except for a strong writing voice, a passion for research, and the ability to target your article pitches to the right publications. Though it may seem like magazines may be fading in the digital age, national magazines continue to thrive and can pay their writers $1 a word.  X Research source To write a good magazine article, you should focus on generating strong article ideas and crafting and revising the article with high attention to detail.
Generating Article Ideas
- Check if the bylines match the names on the masthead. If the names on the bylines do not match the masthead names, this may be an indication that the publication hires freelance writers to contribute to its issues.
- Look for the names and contact information of editors for specific areas. If you’re interested in writing about pop culture, identify the name and contact information of the arts editor. If you’re more interested in writing about current events, look for the name and contact information of the managing editor or the features editor. You should avoid contacting the executive editor or the editor-in-chief as they are too high up the chain and you will likely not interact with them as a freelance writer.
- Note recent topics or issues covered in the publication and the angle or spin on the topics. Does the publication seem to go for more controversial takes on a topic or a more objective approach? Does the publication seem open to experimentation in form and content or are they more traditional?
- Look at the headlines used by the publication and how the articles begin. Note if the headlines are shocking or vague. Check if the articles start with a quote, a statistic, or an anecdote. This will give you a good sense of the writing style that gets published in that particular publication.
- Note the types of sources quoted in the articles. Are they academic or more laymen? Are there many sources quoted, or many different types of sources quoted?
- Pay attention to how writers wrap up their articles in the publication. Do they end on a poignant quote? An interesting image? Or do they have a bold, concluding thought?
- These inspiring conversations do not need to be about global problems or a large issue. Having conversations with your neighbors, your friends, and your peers can allow you to discuss local topics that could then turn into an article idea for a local magazine.
- You should also look through your local newspaper for human interest stories that may have national relevance. You could then take the local story and pitch it to a magazine. You may come across a local story that feels incomplete or full of unanswered questions. This could then act as a story idea for a magazine article.
- You can also set your Google alerts to notify you if keywords on topics of interest appear online. If you have Twitter or Instagram, you can use the hashtag option to search trending topics or issues that you can turn into article ideas.
- For example, rather than write about the psychological problems of social media on teenagers, which has been done many times in many different magazines, perhaps you can focus on a demographic that is not often discussed about social media: seniors and the elderly. This will give you a fresh approach to the topic and ensure your article is not just regurgitating a familiar angle.
Crafting the Article
- Look for content written by experts in the field that relates to your article idea. If you are doing a magazine article on dying bee populations in California, for example, you should try to read texts written by at least two bee experts and/or a beekeeper who studies bee populations in California.
- You should ensure any texts you use as part of your research are credible and accurate. Be wary of websites online that contain lots of advertisements or those that are not affiliated with a professionally recognized association or field of study. Make sure you check if any of the claims made by an author have been disputed by other experts in the field or have been challenged by other experts. Try to present a well-rounded approach to your research so you do not appear biased or slanted in your research.
- You can also do an online search for individuals who may serve as good expert sources based in your area. If you need a legal source, you may ask other freelance writers who they use or ask for a contact at a police station or in the legal system.
- Prepare a list of questions before the interview. Research the source’s background and level of expertise. Be specific in your questions, as interviewees usually like to see that you have done previous research and are aware of the source’s background.
- Ask open-ended questions, avoid yes or no questions. For example, rather than asking, "Did you witness the test trials of this drug?" You can present an open-ended question, "What can you tell me about the test trials of this drug?" Be an active listener and try to minimize the amount of talking you do during the interview. The interview should be about the subject, not about you.
- Make sure you end the interview with the question: “Is there anything I haven’t asked you about this topic that I should know about?” You can also ask for referrals to other sources by asking, “Who disagrees with you on your stance on this issue?” and “Who else should I talk to about this issue?”
- Don’t be afraid to contact the source with follow-up questions as your research continues. As well, if you have any controversial or possibly offensive questions to ask the subject, save them for last.
- The best way to transcribe your interviews is to sit down with headphones plugged into your tape recorder and set aside a few hours to type out the interviews. There is no short and quick way to transcribe unless you decide to use a transcription service, which will charge you a fee for transcribing your interviews.
- Your outline should include the main point or angle of the article in the introduction, followed by supporting points in the article body, and a restatement or further development of your main point or angle in your conclusion section.
- The structure of your article will depend on the type of article you are writing. If you are writing an article on an interview with a noteworthy individual, your outline may be more straightforward and begin with the start of the interview and move to the end of the interview. But if you are writing an investigative report, you may start with the most relevant statements or statements that relate to recent news and work backward to the least relevant or more big picture statements.  X Research source
- Keep in mind the word count of the article, as specified by your editor. You should keep the first draft within the word count or just above the word count so you do not lose track of your main point. Most editors will be clear about the required word count of the article and will expect you not to go over the word count, for example, 500 words for smaller articles and 2,000-3,000 words for a feature article. Most magazines prefer short and sweet over long and overly detailed, with a maximum of 12 pages, including graphics and images.  X Research source
- You should also decide if you are going to include images or graphics in the article and where these graphics are going to come from. You may contribute your own photography or the publication may provide a photographer. If you are using graphics, you may need to have a graphic designer re create existing graphics or get permission to use the existing graphics.
- Use an interesting or surprising example: This could be a personal experience that relates to the article topic or a key moment in an interview with a source that relates to the article topic. For example, you may start an article on beekeeping in California by using a discussion you had with a source: "Darryl Bernhardt never thought he would end up becoming the foremost expert on beekeeping in California."
- Try a provocative quotation: This could be from a source from your research that raises interesting questions or introduces your angle on the topic. For example, you may quote a source who has a surprising stance on bee populations: "'Bees are more confused than ever,' Darryl Bernhart, the foremost expert in bees in California, tells me."
- Use a vivid anecdote: An anecdote is a short story that carries moral or symbolic weight. Think of an anecdote that might be a poetic or powerful way to open your article. For example, you may relate a short story about coming across abandoned bee hives in California with one of your sources, an expert in bee populations in California.
- Come up with a thought provoking question: Think of a question that will get your reader thinking and engaged in your topic, or that may surprise them. For example, for an article on beekeeping you may start with the question: "What if all the bees in California disappeared one day?"
- You want to avoid leaning too much on quotations to write the article for you. A good rule of thumb is to expand on a quotation once you use it and only use quotations when they feel necessary and impactful. The quotations should support the main angle of your article and back up any claims being made in the article.
- You may want to lean on a strong quote from a source that feels like it points to future developments relating to the topic or the ongoing nature of the topic. Ending the article on a quote may also give the article more credibility, as you are allowing your sources to provide context for the reader.
Revising the Article
- Having a conversation about the article with your editor can offer you a set of professional eyes who can make sure the article fits within the writing style of the publication and reaches its best possible draft. You should be open to editor feedback and work with your editor to improve the draft of the article.
- You should also get a copy of the publication’s style sheet or contributors guidelines and make sure the article follows these rules and guidelines. Your article should adhere to these guidelines to ensure it is ready for publication by your deadline.
- Most publications accept electronic submissions of articles. Talk with your editor to determine the best way to submit the revised article.
You Might Also Like
Thanks for reading our article! If you'd like to learn more about writing an article, check out our in-depth interview with Gerald Posner .
- ↑ http://grammar.yourdictionary.com/grammar-rules-and-tips/tips-on-writing-a-good-feature-for-magazines.html
- ↑ https://www.writersdigest.com/writing-articles/20-ways-to-generate-article-ideas-in-20-minutes-or-less
- ↑ http://www.writerswrite.com/journal/jun03/eight-tips-for-getting-published-in-magazines-6036
- ↑ http://www.thepenmagazine.net/20-steps-to-write-a-good-article/
- ↑ https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0R5f2VV58pw
- ↑ http://www.writersdigest.com/tip-of-the-day/how-many-different-kinds-of-articles-are-there
- ↑ http://libguides.unf.edu/c.php?g=177086&p=1163719
About This Article
To write a magazine article, start by researching your topic and interviewing experts in the field. Next, create an outline of the main points you want to cover so you don’t go off topic. Then, start the article with a hook that will grab the reader’s attention and keep them reading. As you write, incorporate quotes from your research, but be careful to stick to your editor’s word count, such as 500 words for a small article or 2,000 words for a feature. Finally, conclude with a statement that expands on your topic, but leaves the reader wanting to learn more. For tips on how to smoothly navigate the revision process with an editor, read on! Did this summary help you? Yes No
- Send fan mail to authors
Reader Success Stories
Sep 20, 2016
Did this article help you?
Sep 1, 2016
Apr 5, 2016
May 5, 2016
Dec 25, 2016
- Do Not Sell or Share My Info
- Not Selling Info
wikiHow Tech Help Pro:
Level up your tech skills and stay ahead of the curve
- How to Cite
- Language & Lit
- Rhyme & Rhythm
- The Rewrite
- Search Glass
How Do I Get a Job Writing for Rolling Stone Magazine?
Rolling Stone magazine was founded in 1967 by Jann Wenner. The magazine averages 1.4 million copies per issue and covers entertainment, sports, politics and pop culture, with an emphasis on the music industry. The magazine is also available in digital format that includes content channels, blogs and access to more than 1,000 back issues. Rolling Stone appeals to a young, upwardly mobile demographic; the median income of a typical reader is more than $84,000. Getting a writing opportunity for the magazine is challenging, but you can do a few things to improve your prospects.
Obtain a two-year associate degree or a bachelor's degree in journalism, mass communications or new media. This provides you with a solid foundation in news writing and magazine writing as well as digital publishing, broadcasting, video and social media. Seek every opportunity to write and get feedback on how to improve.
Visit the magazine's website RollingStone.com. Click on the "Contact" link at the bottom of the home page and locate the email for internship inquiries.
Compose an email detailing your interest in becoming an intern. In the subject line of the email, specify the type of internship you want -- online, print, editorial, photo, editorial production or video. An internship gives you a real-world view of what it takes to write for the magazine and can help you make valuable contacts for possible employment.
Pitch a feature article about a subject that fits the magazine's profile. Rolling Stone is a cutting-edge magazine with stories on rising musicians, established celebrities, political profiles, investigative reports, American culture and music reviews. Ensure that your article idea has a fresh spin and is culturally relevant. Visit the Contact section of the website and locate the option to reach the editors with a story idea. If you want the name of the editor for a specific section of the magazine, click "Click Here to View the RollingStone.com Staff."
Create a pop culture blog that showcases your writing talent and your "voice," which is the way you write that sets you apart from other writers. Your writing should have a strong point of view. You should be knowledgeable about feature films, television, politics, culture and especially music. A well-written blog can become your calling card when you pitch an idea to Rolling Stone.
Writing for Rolling Stone is challenging. It may take a few years before an article you pitch is commissioned by the magazine. Meanwhile, seek a position with a local or regional entertainment magazine.
You should keep writing and improving your skills as you wait for that big break.
Get to know Rolling Stone staff through social media and professional groups.
Rolling Stone does not advertise jobs and rarely hires staff writers. Your best chance of working with the magazine is writing feature articles as a freelance writer. Be aware that the magazine receives many feature article pitch ideas and may not respond to your email inquiry or may send you a form letter response.
- Rolling Stone: Contact
- Rolling Stone: Music News, Reviews, Photos, Videos, Interviews and More.
Sampson Quain is a screenwriter and filmmaker who began writing in 1996. He has sold feature and television scripts to a variety of studios and networks including Columbia, HBO, NBC, Paramount and Lionsgate. He holds a Master of Fine Arts in screenwriting from the University of Southern California.
- Skip to primary navigation
- Skip to content
- Skip to primary sidebar
Established Since 1997
Freelance Writing Jobs
Writing contests, make money writing, hottest topics, how to write a magazine article.
Freelance writers write many of the articles featured in magazines. Freelancers write for all types of magazines including major consumer titles like Glamour , trade magazines like Target Marketing , and the hundreds of other magazines published everyday by companies and custom publishers.
If you want to get your article published in a magazine, you must first sell your idea to the editors with a great query letter. But once you have an assignment, how do you write an interesting article that will keep your readers interested and keep your editor coming back to you time after time with assignments?
Here are 6 tips for how to write great magazine articles.
Know Your Audience
The first thing a writer should focus on is exactly who their reader is. Does the magazine target teen girls or CEOs? Knowing who the magazine targets will help you focus your article so that you’re speaking directly to your audience.
For instance, trade magazines are targeted to professionals working within a certain industry. These readers want information that they can use on a daily basis to operate their businesses successfully. A common mistake for a new magazine writer might be to write a trade article that targets the wrong audience. If you’re writing an article for an HR trade magazine, don’t write tips for finding a new job. Rather, the HR professional wants tips for how to find the best job candidates.
Stick to the Word Count
Magazine editors have a certain amount of space to fill each month. When you land an assignment to write an article, the editor will specify a certain word count, say 1,000 words. Don’t turn in an article of 1,500 words or 750 words. This will annoy your editor and create unnecessary problems. Aim to hit your target word count as closely as possible.
Find the Best Experts to Interview
Most magazine articles quote experts on the subject of the story. Make sure that you find and interview the best possible sources for your article and add their quotes to your article. Expert sources lend a voice of authority to articles and offer different perspectives for readers.
Edit Your Article
Be your own editor before submitting your article to the magazine. Don’t turn in a story riddled with grammar errors. It will make you look unprofessional and careless. Editors don’t want to spend hours rewriting a bad article. Editors want to work with writers who turn in clean copy that requires minimal edits. Help make your editor’s job easier by striving to turn in the best copy possible.
If you need to brush up on your grammar skills, there are plenty of books and guides on the market to help.
Meet Your Deadline
It goes without saying that you should meet your deadline. Again, you want your editor to love your work so that they will come back to you with future assignments. If you turn in late work or fail to turn in your article at all, don’t bank on future assignments from this editor.
You’ll set yourself apart from other magazine writers by always meeting your deadlines.
Understand Article Structure
Knowing how to write a great article takes practice. Articles have various components including the lede (or introduction), main body, and closing. Study articles by other writers in your favorite magazines to learn how they structure their articles. You can pick up article structure easily by studying the work of other top writers.
Top 10 Tips to Land Your First Writing Gig at Freelancer.com
The elation - and perhaps surprise - of landing your first writing gig is a fantastic experience! Here's how to land one at freelancer.com.
How to Find Great Subject-Matter Experts for Your Articles
Journalists and nonfiction writers often need subject-matter experts (SMEs) to lend credibility to their content. I have interviewed experts as far ranging...
10 Free or Cheap Ways to Market Your Writing Business
These 10 strategies cost nothing, or close to it. They'll save you money, and put money in your bank account, too!
Why Hire a Freelance Writer?
Hiring an full-time in-house writer isn't the only way for your business to generate content. Here are three good reasons why you should hire a freelancer!
Submit New Contest
You can pick more than one
How can people enter your contest? Choose the best option.
Thanks for your submission!
FreelanceWriting.com hosts some of the most talented freelance writers on the web, so you’ve come to the right place to find contestants. We are proud to post your contest here, free of charge. Please come back and submit a new contest anytime!
Submit New Job
Choose the best option.
We only accept jobs that pay. When posting a job ad, you MUST include a salary, payment terms, or rate, otherwise we will reject your ad.
If you want make a change or wish to remove your job ad in the future, please email [email protected]
We strive to be the best source of freelance writing jobs on the web, and we maintain our quality thanks to employers like you. Please continue to submit jobs early and often!
Write Nonfiction NOW!
How to Write Magazine Articles and Essays
November 11, 2008 By nawnfinimport2 2 Comments
In case you’ve only recently discovered Write Nonfiction in November (WNFIN) or you’re still struggling with what to write for the challenge – or you simply haven’t found time until now to get started, here’s another idea that you can still complete before month’s end: write a newspaper or magazine article. Put your pen to paper or your fingers to keyboard and whip out an essay or a reported piece of writing.
I’m a journalist by trade, so I thought today I’d offer you my expertise. (Sorry, no guest blogger; just me, Nina Amir.) I received my degree in magazine journalism specifically, although Syracuse University’s S.I. Newhouse School of Journalism required all magazine journalism majors to also know how to write for newspapers, do layout and edit copy. (The latter put me on the path of becoming a nonfiction article, book and proposal editor.) I’ve been writing articles since I was in high school, where I began my career by reviving the defunct school newspaper and went on to become the school news reporter for the local newspaper. Since then, I’ve written for more than 45 local, national and international magazines, newspapers, ezines and newsletters on a full-time or freelance basis. I’ve written hundreds of articles on more subjects than I can remember.
I love what I do. I get to write about so many interesting things and people and so many things that interest me. For example, recently I was asked to write an article on the new Crique de Soleil show, Believe , opening in Los Vegas. I had a blast learning all about its creator Criss Angel and writing about the people who helped him bring his dream into reality. (Look for it in the November/December issue of Movmnt magazine.) Then, I got to write an essay for InterfaithFamily.com on something very personal – my struggle with my husband’s loss of faith. (You can read it in this week’s issue .) Prior to that, I wrote a reported article for the same ezine on how to prepare for the Jewish holidays of Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur. (Read it here .) And before that, I wrote a reported article on the state of the organic market for a trade journal called Grocery Headquarters and a story on female tap dancers in a show produced by Emmy-award winning choreographer Jason Samuels Smith for Dance Spirit magazine. (My son’s a dancer, so I loved writing this article and talking to these phenomenal dancers. Plus, it provided great platform building for the book I’m writing on mentoring boys who want to become professional dancers. If you have a son who dances, check out this blog .)
If you’ve never written an article, don’t be put off. It’s not that difficult. Just tell them what you’re gonna tell ’em. Tell ’em. Then tell ’em what you told ’em. At least that’s what my old Professor John Keats , rest his soul, used to tell us students. (It sounds just like what most high school students are told when writing an essay.) So, let’s break down the three parts of an article.
The Three Parts of an Article
- Just tell them what you’re gonna tell ’em. An article consists, first, of a lead, or a first paragraph that entices the reader into your article. This could also be comprised of several paragraphs if you choose to use an anecdote or a few bulleted items or to talk about a trend occurring. After that, however, you need a sentence or a few sentences that tell your reader what the article is about – a statement of purpose, if you will. Tell them what the article is about so they have an idea of where they are going. Hopefully, you’ve enticed them into wanting to go there.
- Tell ’em. This section represents the meat of your article. Here you place all your supporting material, such as statistics, quotes you obtained from interviews, additional anecdotes, your analysis, etc. Remember, however, that if you are writing a reported article, in most cases you must write in an unslanted manner; this means without an opinion. If you are writing an essay, you may voice your opinon as loudly as you like. Also, if you are writing an essay, you may not be using quotes but relying instead on your own “voice.”
- Tell ’em what you told ’em. Now write your conclusion. Sum up what you wrote about without simply repeating what you already said. That’s right: Say it again but in a totally new way so your readers have no idea that they are reading the same information again. Give it a new angle. Put a new take on it. Offer additional information to support what you’ve already offered. For an essay, if possible, provide a bit broader view or some quote or anecdote or bit of information that takes the reader into the future. You can use this tactic with a reported article as well, but it works especially well with essays.
If you are looking for a great topic to write about, ask yourself what interests you. Prof. Keats, like most good teachers, always said, “Write about what you know.” I tend to look at my life and identify issues with which I’m currently struggling. I query magazines and newspapers with those topics, and I usually find the editors pretty receptive. Most people are just like you. They struggle with the same issues.
I have a caveat to the “write what you know” advice: Know about what you write. A good writer/journalist can write about anything at all simply by becoming the expert on that topic. I’ve written about life insurance tax law, immortality, retail store imaging, Kabbalah, geodesic domes, lobbying, and the supermarket pet aisle. I served as the managing editor and primary writer for two international medical newsletters, Same-Day Surgery and Clinical Laser Surgery . I didn’t know about these topics when I began writing about them. I knew a lot about them when afterwards. The biggest compliment I ever received came from an employee at the Equitable Life Assurance Society. I was working as the associate editor of employee communications and had just written and published a huge article in the employee newspaper about life insurance tax law. She came up to me and said, “That’s the first article on the subject that I’ve ever understood.” I told her, “I had to understand it to be able to write about it.”
So, pick a topic for an article or essay, preferably one you are interested in or feel passionate about. Learn about it. Understand it. Then write about it. And dont’ forget to try and get it published!
For more information on article writing and publishing, check out last year’s archive of blogs. Or contact me at [email protected] .
March 30, 2017 at 1:36 pm
Thank you for helping me understand it very well
October 24, 2017 at 1:20 am
Thanks so much. You’re awesome!
Leave a Reply Cancel reply
Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *
Nonfiction Writers University: Get the ULTIMATE nonfiction writers' shortcut...
How to Write a Magazine Article: My Process
When you think about writing magazine articles, maybe you picture yourself sitting at a pristine desk, a view of the ocean out the window.
You have your steaming cup of coffee, your laptop is ready and waiting, and you sit, hands poised over the keys.
Or maybe, you’re filled with sheer panic.
How the heck do you actually write an article?
If you’ve never written a magazine article, your first assignment can definitely feel intimidating. If you’re trying to create a sample for your portfolio and you’re working without an assignment, you definitely might be wondering how to get started.
Send a Query Letter Before You Write a Magazine Article
The very first thing I do is send a query letter to the magazine in question. Never, ever write a magazine article before you have an assignment — that’s the mark of someone who doesn’t have a good understanding of the magazine industry.
Assignments for articles come after you submit a query letter to the magazine. The article the editor ultimately assigns might differ from what you originally pitched. For example, a few years ago, I pitched a magazine an article about Apple’s extreme secrecy, and how that sometimes hurts the company.
The editor liked the general idea, but wanted to focus on one specific area. If I had written the piece without querying, the editor probably would have flat-out rejected it. But because I queried, the editor could give me his feedback, and I was able to write the article the way the editor wanted it.
Don’t Start Writing A Magazine Article Without a Contract
Most print publications have standard contracts they send out. If you are a new freelancer and you are writing for a national magazine, you probably don’t have a lot of wiggle room to negotiate any of the contract terms.
You need to know what rights you are selling — typically, you will be selling First North American Serial Rights (FNASR) , which means that the magazine is the first place in North America that gets to publish your article. You may also be relinquishing online rights, and in some cases, you will be asked for all rights, which means that you can never, ever sell that piece again. Ever.
This is not necessarily a bad thing, but you want to make sure that you are being compensated for what you are selling.
Outline Your Magazine Article Before You Write It
I like to work from at least a rough outline. Most of my drafts tend to start out in Apple Notes. Once I have a decent start, I move into Google docs.
A rough outline might start out something like this:
Set Up Interviews For Your Magazine Article
If I’m writing an article that will include information from experts and anecdotes from real people, I know that I’ll need to find those people so that I can interview them.
I try to figure out how many people and experts I’ll need, and I start looking to connect with those people and schedule interviews as early as possible — like, the day the article is assigned.
To find experts, I generally rely on two awesome services, Profnet and HARO . Both of these sites let me post queries to experts in a wide variety of fields. Experts who are interested in being interviewed and quoted can then get in touch, and I can schedule interviews as needed.
To find real people to interview for anecdotes in articles, I look to different sources, including Facebook groups, online forums, or my own personal network. If appropriate, I reach out to local or national organizations and ask them to help me connect with their members.
If you are regularly interviewing people, you will want to invest in a scheduling service. I use Acuity Scheduling (that’s an affiliate link, which means if you sign up, I might get some cash!), which has various plans, including a free plan. The plan I use is $15/month, and it is worth every cent.
I send prospective interviewees a link; with one click they can book an open time on my calendar. We both immediately get email, and the appointment automatically shows up on my calendar. I could not function without Acuity — I use it to schedule student coaching calls, client inquiries, interviews for articles, and anything else where I need to talk to people.
Ready to get PAID for your writing?
Watch 5 steps to your successful freelance writing business, prepare for your interviews.
You definitely don’t want to show up to an interview unprepared.
If you’re interviewing an expert, you want to at least skim his or her latest book or have a general idea of who the person is. You want to know ahead of time what questions you’re going to ask — and write them down.
You also want to prepare for your interviews with “regular people” — know what you want to ask them, and be ready to ask the same question in a number of different ways to help people open up and give you usable answers.
Especially in the beginning, you might get nervous during an interview and forget things. Having a written list of questions can help.
Decide ahead of time if you’re planning to record the interview — and test out your technology well before the call.
You might prefer not to record, and instead to take notes — that’s a matter of personal preference.
PRO TIP: Towards the end of the interview, but not as you are hanging up , ask, “Is there anything I haven’t asked you about that you’d like to share?” You will often get some of the BEST answers this way.
Draft and Refine Your Magazine Article
Once you have your interviews done, it’s time to draft your article. This is where your outline can come in handy — it’s a roadmap you can follow as you organize your material.
I like to set aside a good chunk of time for writing an article draft — about two hours of uninterrupted time — so that I can get all the way through.
Remember that when you’re writing a draft, things don’t have to be perfect. So if you’re blanking on a word, instead of agonizing over it, just write something like:
My drafts are FULL of brackets that mark awkward phrases, missing words, thoughts that need to be expanded, and so on. The idea is to get the main thrust of the article down on paper in one go.
I come back to the article over the next few days and put time in on the areas I’ve marked as needing work. These sessions can be anywhere from 20 minutes to an hour — usually I don’t need another long session once the draft is done.
Finalize Your Magazine Article Before Submission
Before you send your article off to the editor, you want to take the time to carefully review it.
Go back to your original assignment letter and make sure that you’ve complied with everything discussed there. Carefully proofread your work to ensure that you don’t have any typos, missed words, errors, or other problems in the work.
I try to set my work aside for at least 24 hours, then come back and read through it with fresh eyes. You can also have Google read your text to you — hearing it read aloud will help you see if you missed a word or have a typo that your eye keeps skipping over.
Follow the Magazine’s Submission Guidelines When You Send Your Article
You’d think it would be obvious to people to submit their work according to the magazine’s submission guidelines, but you would be wrong.
If you’d like to be one of the writers editors turn to again and again, take the time to see how they want you to submit the work. If they’ve gone to the trouble of including this information in your assignment letter, it’s a really good idea to follow it.
Use the fonts and formats the magazine asks for. If they request that you submit your work in HTML, don’t email the editor asking, “How do I submit my work in HTML?” Seriously — don’t do that. That’s what Google is there for.
Respond Promptly to Revision Requests
The more professional the publication, the more revision requests you can expect to receive from the editor. A good editor will push you, and your work will be better for it.
If you’re used to writing for online sites and you suddenly break into print, this process can be jarring. TRUST THE PROCESS. The editor is NOT sending you revision requests because she enjoys it. She is creating a stronger, better piece.
Do the work. Do it in the time frame allotted, and do it with a smile. This article will be a GREAT piece for your portfolio afterwards.
That’s it! That’s the process I follow whenever I write a magazine article.
In fact, there are no clear qualifications required for writing magazine articles except for a strong writing voice, a passion for research, and the ability to target your article pitches to the right publications
A feature article is the main story in the magazine that focuses on a special event, place or person in great detail. Writing feature articles for magazines (and newspapers) is a great way for emerging writers
A common mistake for a new magazine writer might be to write a trade article that targets the wrong audience. If you're writing an article for an HR trade magazine, don't write tips for finding a new job
The Three Parts of an Article Just tell them what you're gonna tell 'em. An article consists, first, of a lead, or a first paragraph that entices the reader into your article
If you've never written a magazine article, your first assignment can definitely feel intimidating. Here's an inside look at the process I use, start to finish, to write an article that's been assigned by a magazine or a website
Writing magazine articles is not a difficult job because it depends on review or interview of celebrity, media production, designer, and company product provided material by them about their upcoming creation