Ever wonder what magazine editors are thinking?
You know they sift through a ton of query letters and pitches. And many of those end up in the slush pile.
They’re always on a deadline. Probably a little stressed. And they count on freelance writers to help produce great content for their publication and readers.
But what is it that magazine editors look for in a pitch or query letter? And how do you get past the delete button when an editor opens their email?
If you want to write for magazines, even pro freelancers will tell you rejection is part of the gig.
But if you can learn to think the way magazine editors do, you’ll significantly increase your chances of making a connection and landing assignments to make a living writing.
We recently caught up with two smart freelancers to learn more about what it’s like for magazine editors, what they’re looking for, and how to stand out when you pitch a story idea. Here’s what you need to know:
Want to write for magazines?
It’s a great way to make a living writing if you pitch the right publications. How about $500 or more per assignment?
If you’ve been cranking out magazine stories for $50 to $150 a pop, you may be wondering if that’s really even possible. That’s often the going rate for local, regional, or small-circulation magazines.
If you want to write for magazines, and have limited experience, these are great places to get some clips, and earn some money, but it shouldn’t be your last stop.
Many consumer and trade magazines pay $500 or more per assignment. And the pitching process is pretty much the same as smaller pubs:
- Identify a magazine you want to write for
- Study the submission guidelines
- Develop a solid story idea
- Do a little research and interview a source
- Write a killer query letter, and pitch your story idea to an editor
If you can do that, you’ve got the chops to get paid well to write for magazines. But you need to know where to look for those $500-plus assignments. Check out these 25 magazines to get started.
You write a pitch letter, send it off, and get nothing.
That ever happened to you? Every freelance writer knows what it’s like.
You crank out queries and letters of introduction to editors and marketing managers.
You try some heavy-lifting techniques to engage prospects and land assignments.
You even flex your writing muscles and try different approaches to crafting pitch letters.
That’s exactly what you should be doing. But your pitch has to be strong enough to get noticed.
If your pitch letter is weak, it’s gonna feel a lot like working out at the gym, even though you’re not really sure if what you’re doing is working.
And that’s not what you want. You want to connect with prospects, land assignments, and make a living writing. Right?
If you’re not getting the results you want when you send a pitch letter, it’s time to get some help.
Ready to buff up your pitch letter? Here’s a chance for a free review:
Are you looking for freelance writing jobs?
Here’s a hint. Content mills, bid sites, and job boards might seem like an easy place to go to find freelance writing jobs, but they’re usually a waste of time.
Too much competition, flaky clients, low rates. That’s usually what you’ll find there. And it doesn’t have to be that way.
You’re better off looking for freelance writing jobs by pitching magazines and websites that pay writers. It’s called pro-active marketing. And it’s a game changer if you’re serious about full-time freelancing.
Instead of sitting around waiting for the Mysterious Force to drop some assignments in your lap, pitch a story idea to a magazine or website. Study the market. Come up with a story idea. Do a little research and mini-interview. Then write a great pitch letter and send it off. Rinse and repeat.
Need a little help figuring out where to pitch your bright ideas? We’ve done some of the hard work for you. Check out this updated monster list of 135 markets (from posts we published in 2018) in a variety of different niches, and start pitching.
Want to write for magazines?
It’s the dream for a lot of freelance writers.
Maybe you’ve got your sights set on getting published in a glossy consumer magazine with millions of readers.
You read every issue. You study the headlines, writing style, and topics. And you think about story ideas for your dream magazine…a lot.
That’s a start. But how do you turn your story ideas into an assignment with a contract, your byline in a popular magazine, and a check in the mail?
One freelance writer took the challenge to get published in AARP: The Magazine…a highly-competitive niche magazine that pays $1/word.
At first she didn’t see a clear path to break in. But with a little effort, she discovered a strategy to write for magazines that really works, whether you’re just starting out or a pro.
Want to steal her idea to break into your dream pub? Here’s what you need to know:
Want to get paid to write about writing? If you know a little something about the business and craft of freelancing, you can cash in on your ideas and experience.
Here’s what I’m talking about:
It’s no secret that finding a niche is a smart strategy to grow your freelance writing business. Everyone should have a niche, or two or three. And writing can be one of them.
In fact, there’s a number of online and print markets that serve freelance writers and some pay up to $1,500 per assignment. Pitch these places great story ideas, and you can get paid to write about writing. For example:
You’ve got some insight on how to write great headlines.
You’ve learned a few interview tricks over the years to get sources to spill the beans.
You’ve some great connections with thought leaders in writing and publishing you can interview and write a feature about.
Or maybe you’d like to write about the art of the pitch and interview pros who know how to do it.
Want to get paid to write about writing? Check out these markets that cover the business and craft of freelance writing, and start pitching.