How to Get Paid to Write for Magazines – The Ultimate Guide

by Linda Formichelli


But you’re just a little old blogger, right?

Why would popular magazines like Forbes, WebMD, and Redbook be interested in you?

You might be surprised.

Thousands of magazines appear on the newsstands and in readers’ mailboxes every month, and they’re constantly on the lookout for new writing talent. Yes, your audience as a blogger may still be small, but all those hours you spent slaving away on your content has probably honed your writing skills to where you could, in fact, compete with the big boys and girls to write for magazines.

And it’s SO worth it.

If you’ve been blogging for a while, let’s talk about why you should be interested in magazines:

1. They can send you a lot of traffic.

Most magazines that pay well for freelance writing also command a huge readership.

For example, when I wrote for Woman’s Day, they had 6 million readers all across the United States. That’s a lot of eyeballs reading your work.

Of course, the size of the audience isn’t everything. Sometimes you’re looking for a smaller but more targeted audience. Magazines can help you there, too!

For example, if you want readers in a particular geographic area, you can write for local magazines that boast followings in that area. If you want readers from a particular industry, you can write for trade publications devoted to that field. If you want readers who buy a particular product or service, you could write for custom publications reaching those customers.

The important point:

Magazine readers are an entirely different audience than the people surfing the blogosphere. These readers are all people who might never find out about you outside of their favorite magazines.

Magazine readers

Even better, many publications, especially online ones, run a bio box at the end of your article where you can trumpet your credentials and lead people to your blog. Writer’s Digest gave me a bio box at the bottom of my column in every issue when I wrote their Conference Scene column, and it drew interested readers online to find out more about my books and classes for writers.

2. They can be lucrative gigs.

Some magazines don’t pay anything at all… but some pay big. (Hint: Those are the ones you want to write for.)

I’ve earned anywhere from $.10 per word writing for trade magazines at the beginning of my career up to $2.50 per word penning articles for national consumer magazines like Health. What’s important, though, isn’t the per-word rate — it’s your hourly rate, and I usually earn $250 per hour at this kind of work even at magazines that pay just $.50/word.

So, you’re not just connecting with new readers. You’re getting paid to connect with new readers.

Get paid to connect with new readers.

How cool is that?

3. They can help you land other well-paying gigs.

You can use published articles as clips, or samples, to show to potential clients in all writing areas. Copywriting clients, for example, like to know you understand the ins and outs of journalism and have the skills to weave a narrative and tell a good story. Just what they want you to do with their products!

Your article writing can also turn into speaking gigs. If a conference organizer likes one of your articles in their industry trade pub, they might ask you to turn your article into a speech, giving you not only more exposure, but a nice speaking fee too! One of my very first articles, in a national business magazine, led to a speaking opportunity at a Chamber of Commerce in Pennsylvania.

Plus, let’s not forget about credibility. If you’re on the hunt for a book deal, a business partner, or an affiliate, who do you think they’re going to want to work with: the person with no creds, or the one with a column in a major magazine? Yeah, it’s a no-brainer.

Build credibility writing for magazines.

Traffic, money, credibility – you’re sold, right? Now you’re itching to learn how to get started.

Luckily, as a blogger, you’re one step ahead of the game, because just as you can use magazine articles as clips to get blogging gigs, you can use blog posts as clips to land article assignments.

Who wants to buy my articles?

You already know about the big magazines that populate the newsstand, so let me share two super-secret markets out there for writers:


Trade magazines are business-to-business publications created for members of a certain industry.

For example, I’ve written for Pizza Today, The Federal Credit Union, In-Plant Graphics, Sign Builders Illustrated, Restaurant Management, and Mini-Storage Messenger. These magazines tell readers how to best manage, market, and generally boost the success of their businesses.

There are gazillions of these magazines, covering every imaginable market niche. For example, my husband once wrote for Indian Gaming Business — and this magazine actually has a competitor. So whatever educational or professional background you have, you can probably parlay that into trade assignments.

The downside?

Don’t expect to get rich. At least, not right away.

Trade magazines typically pay less than consumer magazines — think 10 – 50 cents per word, though many pay higher — but on the “pro” side, they’re easier to write for than the big guys, they tend to pay quickly, and they become loyal clients that will come back to you again and again. Also, once you get the hang of writing for a particular industry, you’ll be able to complete assignments more quickly, meaning your hourly rate will increase.

Find trades in Writer’s Market and at WebWire. Webwire doesn’t include links to the magazines, but you can search for the sites of pubs you’re interested in on Google.


A custom publication is a magazine that serves as a marketing piece for a business to give to its customers or clients.

Many of these are published by companies called custom publishers (though many of them now call themselves content companies). That means the business distributing the magazine to its clients is not the actual publisher. The business pays the publisher to create the magazine for them.

So, that magazine you get at Sam’s Club? Custom published.

The one you get from your bank, supermarket, or insurance agency? Most likely also custom published.

And the even cooler part?

Custom published magazines tend to pay more than trades — in my experience, at least 50 cents to $1 per word. Yes, you do need some writing skills to freelance for them, but not really any more or less than you need for consumer and trade magazines.

If you’re good, you can also get steady work. As with trades, if custom pub editors like you they’ll add you to their “stable” of writers to hand out assignments to. Sweet!

Find custom publications at The Content Council. Click on “Members” and you can search by industry to see who publishes magazines (and other content) in sectors like health, retail, and financial services.

To break into most magazines, you need a query letter, also known as a pitch. It’s basically a sales letter telling the editor what your idea is, why it’s important to readers, and why you’re the best person to write it.

Here’s what you’ll need:

1. A Fantastic Idea

Read over your target magazine to help you brainstorm ideas. If you can’t find physical copies of the magazine, check out their online archives. Sometimes the content differs, but you’ll get a good idea of what the magazine runs.

A word of warning:

Most of the ideas that first pop out of your head will suck. Even if you think they’re great, they’ll probably suck. (Sorry.)

Most of the ideas that first pop out of your head will suck.

That’s because we tend to think in terms of topics, not story ideas. A topic is a broad idea that could really be a book, and has probably been done already, in some form, in both books and magazines. A story, on the other hand, has your own unique angle or slant that a jaded editor hopefully hasn’t seen before. For example:

Topic: How to stay healthy this summer. (See how that could be a book?)

Story: Summer bummers: The top 5 health snafus that can ruin your summer, and how to solve them.

Story: How to stay healthy this summer with items you already have in your pantry.

Story: Special precautions people with condition X need to take to stay healthy during the summer.

Get the idea?

Great. Let’s jump into the next most important part of a great query:

2. An Awesome Lede

A lede (yes, that’s spelled right) is the first paragraph or two of your query, and it’s typically written in the same style as the ledes you see in articles in your target magazine. So you might start with an anecdote, a compelling quote, a startling stat — or you may do something more literary in style.

Here are a couple of potential ledes for the “Summer Bummers” idea above.

1. The anecdotal lede
When McKenzie Smith, 32, went to the beach last summer, she envisioned lying around on the sand reading a romance novel while her kids played in the warm waves.

What she didn’t envision was developing an itchy condition called sea bather’s eruption, which is caused by stings from tiny, larval jellyfish.

2. A stat lede

Beset by bug bites? Feeling sick from a summer picnic? You’re not alone. According to a new study by the National Institutes of Health, nearly one-third of Americans over the age of 18 have to miss work each summer due to seasonal snafus like these — and other recent research has found that 45% of us avoid going outside in the summer because we’re afraid of bee stings, poison ivy, and sunburn. [Note: I totally made those stats up.]

3. A Nut Graf

I know — what’s with all the funny spellings, right?

The nut graf is the paragraph right after the lede where you quickly summarize what you’ll be offering. For example, let’s take my stat lede above and add on a nut graf:

Beset by bug bites? Feeling sick from a summer picnic? You’re not alone. According to a new study by the National Institutes of Health, nearly one-third of Americans over the age of 18 have to miss work each summer due to seasonal snafus like these — and other recent research has found that 45% of us avoid going outside in the summer because we’re afraid of bee stings, poison ivy, and sunburn.

Summer doesn’t have to be that way. In my article “Summer Bummers,” I’ll interview top docs to give your readers solid, little-known advice on how to combat the top seven seasonal health woes: poison ivy, dehydration, food poisoning, sunburn, sea bather’s eruption, bug bites, and heat rash.


It’s the point in your query letter where you pivot from the idea into your actual pitch. The transition should be smooth, the lede flowing right into the nut graf, just like the one above.

Next, we need…

4. A Bodacious Body

The body is where you get into the nuts and bolts of your pitch. You don’t want to make the editor guess at what you’re offering: Give her some examples, written in the style you’d write the article in.

And yes, that means you’ll have to do your homework. Probably more than you’re used to.

Most blogs are opinion-based: You write what you think, and nobody is looking over your shoulder, expecting you to back it up. Magazines, on the other hand, are evidence-based. Unless you’re an expert writing an opinion piece, editors will expect you to show supporting evidence.

Sometimes, that means conducting a couple of quickie pre-interviews. You can find potential sources to interview at universities, organizations, and think tanks, and on LinkedIn, online forums, Twitter, Facebook, and source-finding sites like ProfNet. And don’t discount the value of your email list!

So here’s the body of the query I started above.

For example, I’ll offer doctor-approved advice such as:

* Food Poisoning

If you downed questionable shrimp salad at the office picnic, you may find yourself faced with nausea, vomiting, and diarrhea. “One thing you shouldn’t do is take an anti-diarrheal medicine, because the diarrhea carries the toxins that are making you sick out of your system,” says Daniel Jones, MD, an associate professor at Harvard School of Medicine. Instead, sip a sports drink, which helps replace the electrolytes you’re losing. Until you feel better, avoid solid food and drink your usual liquids plus a quart of sports drink per day.

* Dehydration

The bad thing about dehydration isn’t that your mouth is parched and you crave Frappuccinos– it’s that dehydration can lead to heat exhaustion, which can in turn lead to heat stroke. The worst-case heat stroke scenario is that your blood pressure drops dangerously, resulting in organ damage.

Here’s advice from Liz Johnson, MD, a physician at The Wellness Institute in Boston: If you notice decreased sweating, lightheadedness, or dizziness, get to a cool place and rehydrate with a sports drink. Anticipate and head off the problem by deep-sixing the caffeine, which can make you sweat more and therefore lose more water, and drinking more than usual if you plan to be out in the heat or if you take a diuretic such as blood pressure medication.

Don’t skimp on your research! This is where you prove to a skittish editor that you do indeed have the goods.

Then and only then can you…

5. Brag on Yourself

My writer friend Kelly James-Enger calls this the “why I’m so great” paragraph. This is where you tell the editor why you are the best person to write the proposed article. So if I were 100% a blogger and had never written for magazines, I might write:

I’m a freelance writer in Sacramento who writes on health topics on my own blog,; I’ve also written for blogs like X, Y, and Z. As a former nurse, I understand medical concepts and terminology — and as I writer, I know how to translate them into readable, fun prose.

Even if you don’t have a lot of writing credits to toot your horn about, there are other brag-worthy things you can use — like a deep personal knowledge of the topic (your spouse is a doc? mention that here!), an educational background in the topic, or exclusive access to a key source.

You’re a writer, so spin what you do have into the best possible light!

6. A Closing

In the closing of the pitch, I usually do two things:

#1: Show I understand the magazine’s readership.

Explain why your article will be important to the magazine’s readers. For example:

Your readers are young women who want to relax and enjoy the sun all summer long — without being waylaid by pesky summer health troubles. My article “Summer Bummers” won’t disappoint them.

#2: Ask for the sale.

One mistake many writers make is they forget to wrap up in a clear way by asking for an assignment. They let the pitch simply peter out, and leave the editor wondering why the writer bothered.

You can ask for the sale in a lot of ways: “I look forward to hearing what you think about my idea for Magazine X!” “I look forward to your reaction.” “Does this idea sound interesting to you?” “May I write this article for you?”

And that’s it! You’re finished!

What’s Next?

Send your query letter via email directly to whichever editor you think would handle your topic.

At big magazines, that is often a senior, deputy, or associate editor. At smaller magazines, like many trades, you can pitch directly to the editor.

Can’t decide? Give them a call and ask.

To find the editor’s email address, first search the website, and try Google searches on the editor’s name and “contact.” You can also search for the editor on LinkedIn; sometimes you’ll find an e-mail address right on the editor’s profile.

If those tactics come up short, try calling the magazine. Don’t be afraid! I promise no one will yell at you.

As a last resort, try to decipher the magazine’s email format (it’s often on the Ad Sales page) and use that to figure out your editor’s address. You can take advantage of one of the many free online email verification systems like to determine if the address you guessed at is correct. This isn’t foolproof, but it helps.

Once you zap off your query, don’t just wait with bated breath for a reply, because it can take a loooong time. Send your pitch to other magazines as well (you may need to tweak your pitch a bit for each one), and get to work on your next query. Pitching a numbers game, and it’s all about volume.

Keep pitching…

Once you learn to write a query, you’ll get better and better at it, and the process will take less and less time. You’ll start to develop relationships with editors — yes, even a nice rejection asking you to pitch again can be the start of a beautiful (and lucrative) friendship. And some of those relationships will lead to regular gigs.

But you have to keep pitching.

Too many talented writers fire off a query or two and then quit. Maybe the rejection is too painful, or maybe you’re just too busy.

Regardless, the writers who make it are the ones who send a lot of pitches. Preferably at least one or two a week — with each of those going out to multiple publications — at least for the first few years.

You have to keep pitching.

Here’s why:

You have to do the work to write for magazines

Writing for magazines is the same as anything else. You have to do the work.

At first, you suck. Then it gets a little easier. Then one day you look at your work and realize you actually know what you’re doing! Heck, when I started out as a full-time freelancer in 1997, I would print out each pitch, go over it with a red pen, have my writer husband go over it with a red pen, enter in the edits, and repeat the process until the pitch was as clean and perfect as possible. These days, I can write a full pitch in under an hour.

You just have to keep going. You have to keep writing. You have to trust it’ll all pay off

It’s certainly paid off for me, and I believe it can pay off for you too. Not only through money, although that’s certainly nice, but through connecting with people who need your wisdom.

The world is full of people with questions who aren’t searching blogs for answers. To help them, you have to reach outside of your medium and connect with them where they already are.

You have the skills. You have the passion. You now have the step-by-step plan to make it happen.

So get out there and start writing!

There’s a whole other world waiting for you, and if you’re willing to put in the work, you’ll do just fine.

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Linda Formichelli

Linda Formichelli has been a full-time freelance writer since 1997. Today, she's the founder and creative director at Hero's Journey Content, LLC.


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Written by Linda Formichelli

Linda Formichelli has been a full-time freelance writer since 1997. Today, she's the founder and creative director at Hero's Journey Content, LLC.

102 thoughts on “How to Get Paid to Write for Magazines – The Ultimate Guide”

  1. The Renegade Writer is in the house!

    It all sounds so easy but as you’ve said, we have to do the work.

    Personally, I found it better to start writing for local magazines first to learn the ropes. I’m still learning. 🙂

    Thanks for an enlightening article.

    • I am a writer. I love to write. I never really gave it much thought besides the millions of songs that I have written and released. I have recently started a book that I will be working on for awhile about my crazy intriguing life. (so true)
      I have been studying a little bit on what I can do with my writing. I want to branch and I would love to write for a magazine. I know I would do well at it. Where can I begin? Locally, with a smaller magazine? What are any resources that you may be able to suggest, if you do not mind me asking? I live in Virginia Beach. Thank you in advance for any input.

    • Hi there! I love Monica’s suggestion. I would start with whatever you feel most comfortable with, just to start building a clip file. However, that doesn’t necessarily mean small. If you have your sights set on a big magazine, go for it! The trick is, no matter what types of mags you choose to pitch, you do lots and lots of it. It truly is a numbers game…if you have an idea and a publication looks at all like a reasonable match, just send your pitch. Believe me, if you are even somewhat close, you’ll be ahead of 90% of what the editor normally gets…and even if they don’t want THAT idea, they may invite you to pitch again or offer you another idea. Good luck!

      • Great advice Linda. What is a “pitch”? I am assuming that I can just write about a topic that is relatively related to the magazine that I choose and send it in? If they like it, they like it and so on? I was also wondering, who do I send it to? The Editor?

        Thank you all for your input,

  2. Hi Linda,

    Well you certainly delivered on your promise in the headline:)

    I think it’s important for credibility to write for print as well as online and as you say it will help grow a bigger and more diverse audience to your blog.

    I think the most important part is to keep pitching and when you get rejected to find out why. Most of the time if you’ve done all the ground work you laid out rejections come because they’ve covered the topic recently or already have someone working on it.

    In other words it’s not about you, it’s about them.

    So we writers have to remember not to take it personally but to keep writing and keep sending out those pitches and articles.

    You’ve made me want to give it another whirl – it’s been a while – so thanks for that:)

  3. Outstanding article for freelance writers! This was one of the best comprehensive guides I’ve read on “how to get paid to write for magazines.” No fluff here. I appreciated the concrete examples from the lede to the closing.

  4. Wow! I’ve written for magazines for a long time (made my living at it for many years)…and this is the FIRST article I’ve read on how to break in that hasn’t given me fits. You clearly know what you’re doing. Newbies will do well to follow your excellent advice. Really, really nice work Linda! Thanks for sharing.

  5. Thanks for a great, value-packed, actionable article, Linda; I love the way you laid everything out here, set-by-step. I’m going to have to check out your site immediately! And I’m going to save this article to use as a “cheatsheet” too. 🙂

    Alot of what you write about here really resonates with me. As a former PR professional, I constantly had to pitch my clients to media outlets. It’s one of the best educations I could have gotten, and helps me in my current business everyday.

    Everything you say here is golden, but I think showing an editor you understand their audience and can offer something of value to their readers, and the advice to “keep pitching,” are especially important points.

    I once had a brick manufacturer client (yeah, try making *that* sexy) who I pitched to Parade Magazine for two years, yes, TWO YEARS, before we finally got coverage for them there. Now granted, we were pitching that same pub with that one story idea, because we knew it would work for Parade readers (and it eventually did, two long years later);), but we kept pitching them to lots of other shelter pubs and trade magazines and every other venue where their story and their product would resonate with readers too. We ended up getting them massive coverage, and everybody was happy. 🙂

    As a freelance writer myself, I actually have to remind myself that there are many kinds of outlets out there that need well-written content, and that it pays to seek out some off the beaten path outlets, like trade pubs. And custom publishers — I’ve never even considered that — what a great idea!

    Thanks again for a really terrific article, it’s inspired me to get more proactive with my own pitching.

  6. Thanks for your great comments, everyone!

    @Kimberly: Brick manufacturer? Ha! I once did a lot of copywriting for a roofing supply company.

    @Molly Rose: I’m so glad I didn’t give you fits. 🙂 Seriously, though, most advice out there gives ME fits, too.

    @Annabel: You’re so right…rejection usually isn’t about you. You wouldn’t believe how many times I’ve gotten rejected because the magazine already had something similar in the works.

    @Amandah, Dries and Glori: Thanks for your comments! Glori, I remember your entry into the Freelance Den contest and thought you did a great job. You can do it!

  7. Having previously read a handful of other books/articles on getting published, I can honestly say that you have done a great job keying in on the most important points!

    Well done,
    Karen F.

  8. What a great post – and exactly when I was wondering how to start writing for magazines! It’s not only practical, with specific examples, but encouraging too.

  9. Awesome advice and great examples! I’ve done a fair amount of online guest posting, but haven’t made the jump to pitching magazines. My question has to do with pitching lead times. As a PR guy, I realize that magazines have long-publishing lead times – so any seasonal pitch must factor in a 4-6 month lead. Is that indeed the case?

  10. Hey Linda,

    Great job on this piece!! I was actually just thinking I should pitch a few custom pubs the other day (after receiving one in the mail and thinking… I could have written that) so I love that link. It’s also always great to have a refresher on what makes for a killer query — and you’ve done a great job of breaking it down so it’s both easy to understand and easy to recreate. Thanks again! 🙂

  11. Great advice, Linda! I work with a lot of companies that are looking to build awareness and “thought leadership” through publishing in a trade magazine. I’m going to start sharing this info with them.

    One thing I would add to the trade magazine advice is that credibility plays a huge factor on whether or not you get published. Even if you’re not a lawyer, you can write for a legal publication if you can find a lawyer to quote. Or find a doctor for a health publication, etc. I’ve had a lot of luck getting published in more scientific and technical publications that way and they pay pretty well.

    The key is to outline this in the pitch because these technical experts are necessary to the story, but they can’t write in a way that’s engaging. If the editor knows you can find experts and make them sound good, they’re more likely to not just take your story, but ask you back.

    As you pointed out in an older post on your own blog, the editing process at a trade is so much easier and the articles are longer, so your per-hour rate is very good.

  12. Wjat a terrific article! Thank you for the nuts and bolts of how to create a great Query and a great article!

  13. Linda,

    Great article! I’m looking forward to putting your tips in practice to broaden the reach in one of my verticals (restaurants/wineries). Thank you for spelling out the details so we can literally go step-by-step and the examples you’ve shown in the post and in the comments help quite a bit.

  14. Linda, what a fantastically useful overview! I particularly liked your advice about remembering to *ask* for the assignment instead of just letting your pitch fizzle out.

    As I’ve moved further into freelance blogging instead of journalistic writing since the start of my career, its nice to have a reminder of the points I need to cover next time I pitch a magazine!

    Thanks for a great guest post. 🙂

  15. I’ve made a LOT of money writing for custom pubs, and had a lot of fun doing it. Custom editors are not as overwhelmed with queries as major consumer mags, and are more likely to add you to their stable of writers–and then call you with an assignment. My secret weapon for making that happen: I’m easy to work with. When my editors tell me how they want an article angled, I don’t argue. On the rare occasion when they ask for a rewrite, I don’t grump; I say “How soon do you need that?” And I fact check my own work and send along a complete list of sources and how to reach them, sometimes with the query, always with the completed submission. I once had an editor (at AARP, The Magazine, which pays pretty well) say, “I like your article…and my fact checkers LOVE your source list. Do you have any other ideas you’d like to pitch?” As in everything else in life and business, it comes down to the relationship. Be someone editors like to work with and you’ll increase your chances exponentially.
    Glori, another way to break in is to focus on the shorter pieces at the ‘front of the book’ and ‘back of the book.’ That’s where an editor is more likely to try our a writer new to the magazine. Good luck!
    And Linda, thanks again for this outstanding post.

  16. Great guide! I just have one quick question about interviewing experts for magazine pieces…

    What is the best way to approach an expert for this sort of thing? As in, do you need to ask upfront for their permission to use the info from your interview in any magazine publications that might pick up your story? What is the best way to make sure you’re in the clear when it comes to this aspect? Thanks in advance and really enjoyed this.

  17. @Ashly: Good question! I usually ask them if I can interview them for a pitch I’m sending out to several magazines, and I may mention a couple of the more impressive-sounding ones. I tell the expert I’d like just 15 minutes of their time for the pitch, and if it’s accepted I’ll be back in touch to ask for a more in-depth interview. So at that point in the process, the source will know what magazine I sold the article to. I’ve never had a problem where the source then turns around and decides she doesn’t want to be in that magazine.

    @Tor: Another good question! Yes, the same lead times apply for magazine articles. So you’ll want to pitch Christmas ideas around June, especially for the big consumer magazines.

    @Marie, so true…your ability to find good sources is key. My main niche is health and nutrition, and I have no background in these topics…I just know how to come up with good ideas and find expert sources for them.

  18. Super useful, right down to teaching the correct jargon (“lede”). Reading the comments, I’m not sure what @Molly Rose means by “custom” pubs vs “consumer” pubs. Are we talking AARP Magazine vs. Better Homes & Gardens here?

  19. @Debra: A consumer pub is any glossy magazine that you find on the newsstand or that’s for consumers and not attached to any one brand…so AARP and BHG are both consumer pubs, as are Time, Cosmo, People, Wired, and Rolling Stone. A custom pub is printed up for a company or organization and is basically a marketing piece — so the magazines you get from Sam’s Club, your bank, your insurance company, the National MS Society, etc.

    I hope that clears things up!

  20. I hate to be the party pooper but magazines and newspapers do NOT drive traffic. Most people have no clue who wrote the articles they read in a given magazine. Also, print has a click through rate of zero.

    That means people would have to 1) remember who wrote an article (which they never do), and 2) remember to find that person online at some later date.

    You are almost always better off writing for a popular website than you are in writing for a magazine at least in terms of generating traffic.

    I’m friends with some of the best travel writers in the world and hardly any of them get any sizable traffic on their blogs.

    The only way I know of to get traffic from print is to be the subject of an article, not the author. Event then, most of the traffic will come from the article being posted online.

  21. Really great guide on getting into the magazine market. Took a writers digest course years ago on this topic and may make the move. Thanks for the great post.

  22. @Gary: Thanks for your insights! I have my blog in my bio when I write for Writer’s Digest (column in every issue plus occasional features), and it does bring in people to my blog who may not have heard of it otherwise.

    But one thing your comment makes me realize — and something I should have mentioned in the post — is that this works best if you’re writing on the same topic you blog about. In Writer’s Digest I write about, well, writing, so people who read my articles there would naturally be interested in my writing blog. But when I write for, say, The Federal Credit Union, I probably wouldn’t see much traffic from that.

    And I agree…in terms of boosting traffic, you’ll always be better off writing for a popular website than a print magazine just because of the ease of clicking through rather than having to put down the magazine and go type in the blog address.

    Also…this post is meant to address both online and print magazines. You would of course get more of a traffic boost writing for an online magazine (or a print magazine that also posts articles online), especially if the magazine or article is on the same topic as your blog.

    That said, though, even if you are writing for a print-only magazine on a non-related topic, you’ll still get all the other benefits, including money and clips!

    Thanks again for helping me clarify!

  23. I recently decided that writing for magazines is the way to go if I’m going to earn money from my writing. I have had my own website and blog for over two years, but the niche I am writing in is not going to be a money-maker – I knew this going in…I consider my blog to be a ministry, not a way to get rich.

    Nevertheless, I’m at a place in my life where making some money would be a really good thing. I’ve been published before, but that was many years ago. I bought “Writer’s Market” and found a wealth of information there of how to go about pitching articles to magazines – for instance, I had never even heard of a query letter before reading “Writer’s Market.”

    I appreciate that you have included this information on your blog, Jon. It’s an encouragement to me that this truly is a path that can be lucrative, even if it takes some time. Eventually I would like to publish books, but I figure writing for magazines builds a great resume and will make me more attractive to book publishers…and it may just have the added benefit of sending me more traffic which will also build my “cred.”

    And thank you Linda, for writing this article. I’ll be bookmarking this for future reference!

  24. Wow, perfect timing. I was literally thinking about writing magazines last night before I saw this post. I got inspired by a fictional t.v. show character and thought “hey, I could do that!” Thanks for this article!

  25. As a freelance writer, I have always wanted to write for magazines but just didn’t have an idea how. This article shows it all. It’s kind of a break in the clouds allowing a ray of sunshine to push through. It promises hope where hope has started to wane.

    Thanks a lot.

  26. Presently I write for friends and I have always heard comments like “you are a great writer”. I have just started taking my writing serious and this article is timely and great too. It has given me a new perspective to writing and reaching out. Thanks

  27. Good luck to you in this new direction, Anne Galivan. Yes, it can generate income…and it’s also a tough haul. For many years, I made my living writing for magazines, and I’m not sure I would ever have called it ‘lucrative.’ The last few years have seen tougher times in the magazine world, even the trades and customs. Many pubs are offering lower fees than ever, and the competition has picked up. I still write for magazines (custom) because I love doing it, but it’s no longer my sole source of income.
    Gary Arndt…what you say is true, and yet… Being in magazines adds credibility to a professional profile and can position the writer as an expert. In my experience, readers will notice who wrote the article if it’s a familiar name, which is why what Linda says is also true…'[it] works best if you’re writing on the same topic you blog about.’ Another thing I like about writing about my field (brain-based coaching and sales coaching/training) is that it forces me to articulate a concept or idea that I can then talk about with more clarity. That said…I realize I hardly ever write about those things (my assignments are editor-generated), and now you’ve inspired me to get myself in gear and put myself a little more out there on that front. Thanks for the inspiration!
    Wow…Linda…look at all these great comments…think you hit a nerve with this post??! Thanks again.

  28. When I left school over 19 years ago I found it incredibly frustrating trying to get any newspapers and magazines to even acknowledge me. I’m assuming it is easier these days?

  29. Another great article by Mrs. Formichelli. I discovered her wisdom when she did a webinar with Carol Tice of Make A Living Writing. Since then I’ve read several of her posts on writing and they are always worth bookmarking.
    This one is no different in that the method is laid out clearly and precisely with a touch of humour.
    Once again, a great post.

  30. Nice!!!

    Thanks for the article Linda. I like the anecdotal pitch a lot. It’s like a framework, right? Frameworks can make it easier to write this sort of stuff. And there are thousands of trade magazines. It’s the kind that catches my attention randomly when I flick through a newspaper.

  31. Great article , Linda and full of helpful advice which should and must be applied for writers a who want to be in with a chance of getting published in print media.

    I’ve been freelancing for a very long time and it gets more competitive by the year. In my writing for publication workshops I also stress the need to be totally professional in approach as well as just keeping at it. It’s also imperative to nurture good relationships with editors.

    I agree with Gary though that the click through rate from print to blog is very poor, but on the other hand having a by-line in a newspaper or magazine is good for credibility. I don’t think I’ll give up on freelancing any time soon even though it is hard work and time consuming but the joy of someone recognising you from something you have written is intense (every time)!

  32. @Dean: Good question. It’s really hard to compare because the world of magazine writing is so DIFFERENT these days. It’s more competitive, but there are also a lot more opportunities with online magazines, print mags that have separate online content, etc. I used to make almost 100% of my income from magazines but it burned me out and I started looking for other things to do, and this happened at a time when mag writing started to become more competitive, so that was probably good timing on my part. Now about half of my income comes from magazines, and the other half is from a combination of e-courses and phone mentoring. It’s hard to know whether I would be able to go back and earn $70k per year writing almost solely for magazines as I used to.

    @Gemma: Yes, you could call it a framework. in magazine parlance, the way you organize and format an article is called “packaging” –for example, clever subheds, anecdotes about each tip from “real people,” charticles, etc.

  33. Linda;

    Great insight and info. I have done a variety of jobs, before heading this route of freelance writing. It is encouraging to know that someone with no one solid career can still offer their services of an article idea. (ok I have my degree in law enforcement)
    I have never been afraid of meeting and talking to people, so interviewing professionals would be a great way to add the “credibility” to an offering. Thank you again Linda for your wisdom and willingness to share your wisdom.

  34. Linda. Thank you so much! This is a great and useful article. You actually gave me an idea. We right a lot on other blogs and I never even thought about magazines.

    Thank you very much from Hungary!

  35. Great article! Good point about realising that you don’t have to be an expert to write an article in a specialised field. The key is getting access to the experts.


  36. Thanks so much for the info Linda. I took an e-course through about freelance writing for parenting publications. I’ve been pitching for about a year now, although off and on as time allows between a full-time marketing job and raising two little ones. Writing for the glossies is definitely a tough nut to crack, but I’m making progress. I’ve found that building my clips through my blog, writing for parenting websites, and other online sites like Huffington Post, has helped me along. Several times I’ve had editors like my pitch, ask me for an outline, and then say no. So frustrating! Right now I have a Parenting editor liked my pitch and my outline, and is proposing it for the February issue. So, it’s the farthest I’ve ever made it in the process. Fingers crossed! I’m off to read more of your tips on your blog. Thanks again for the info!

  37. @Kristin: You’re right, they are a tough nut to crack. That’s why I focus on trades and custom pubs, pitching the glossies only if I happen to come up with an idea I really want to write that I think will be perfect for them. But having clips from consumer pubs like Parenting can really open doors, so it’s worth the effort!

  38. This is one of the most informative articles I’ve seen yet on how to break into magazine writing. I love the query breakdown, as well as tips on who to mail the query (that one always stumps me). Thanks so much!

  39. Really good guide. Just another reminder that its the content that matters if you can generate good stuff then people will find you.

    What do you feel about what is happening with the magazines these days? They are thin as a mofo what’s up with that?

  40. @Jacko: I think you’ll see that if you look at certain newsstand magazines. But there are THOUSANDS of markets out there that are thriving — or at least not dying 🙂 — and that you won’t find at the local bookstore.

    FYI, magazine newsstand single-copy sales were down about 9% in the first half of this year over last year, but e-versions are picking up. Also, in the first half of this year there were 100 new regular-frequency newsstand magazines. (If I remember all that correctly…you can get magazine news at

  41. Excellent post Linda and very inspiring too. Just after reading your post, i applied in 3 magazines offices. Sent them the mail and waiting for the response. Hope they respond positively 🙂

  42. Good stuff, Linda! This is one of the best guides I’ve seen so far in terms of detailed magazine pitching. I appreciate the specific pitch examples and the various ways you can approach the same pitch.

  43. I believe I can write well enough, but what I have got is only 10-12 cents per word. Can you advice on how do I land a $1 per word assignment.

  44. The best article i read this morning. Helped me a lot to understand on how to write and how to pitch to write to others as well. Kudos to you Linda

  45. I just wanted to thank you for this article. I love that you treated me like a total newbie (which I am) and told what to do and then gave an actual example. That’s how I learn best. Thanks again for taking the time to help us!

  46. I would like to write motivational self-help articles for Silver Sages (AKA seniors).

    Most of my writings are 350-700 words. I write about feelings, self-esteem, aging thoughts, loneliness and more. These are all subjects faced by every age group, but silver sages have a different point of view due to years of experience in a much less technological world.
    My goal is to help people who would like to improve their lives. My writings encourage readers to be the best they can be.
    Where can I find publications that want motivational articles from a senior, for seniors?

    • Marcia, Great topics! Though essays (which is what it sounds like you want to write) can be a hard sell. If you can turn your experiences into reported service pieces, meaning they have advice from experts that readers can use, those are easier to pitch to magazines for retired people, boomers, etc. You can still use your experiences as a personal anecdote in your pitch lede, but advice will come from experts. Check Writer’s Market, Google, online mag directories, and custom content companies that publish materials for businesses that target this demographic. Good luck!

  47. Hello Linda,
    Great! That’s a good trigger for some industries. I think that you should specialize in any of area. so you stand out.

  48. So glad you decided to update this post and put it out there again, Linda. This is something I never even would have considered, but I love the fact that it opens up a whole new audience that wouldn’t find me in the places I already am. Thanks for this, it’s going on my to-do-soon list! (And thanks for your step-by-step instructions on how to make it happen too.)

  49. WoW!
    What a wonderful article from you Linda?
    I think your post inspire every writer and also me. I hope some more article like this from you.

  50. Hey Linda,

    I’ve never seen a pitch structured in the way you presented it. You provided killer ideas for writing compelling queries.

    Writing for magazines has never crossed my mind, yet the way you describe it makes it seem so simple — not easy — but simple.

    It seems like a less crowded route than typical avenues, such as job boards for freelance blogging.

    Thanks for this post. Smart blogger has the best guest contributors on the internet. Period.

    • Yes, definitely not easy! 🙂 Though the pitching process gets easier the more you do it, and once you have a core group of loyal clients, you won’t need to pitch much at all anymore. Good luck!

  51. What an awesome idea! I’m still in the comprehension stage, getting ready to move into the connection stage, but I would love to write for magazines after I get my blog going! It would be a dream come true. Thank you for outlining the pitch so clearly. You are a master explainer.

  52. Hey Linda,

    Thanks for this long piece on writing for magazine. I’ve been pondering on the ways to build my credibility as a freelance writer from a country like Nigeria (bastardize with news of fraudulent acts). I believe now that writing for the magazines can probably stand me out.

    • The good news is, you can write for magazines pretty much IN any country FROM any country! I know lots of non-U.S. writers who write for American magazines. Until they need to send you a check, editors may not even know where you’re located!

  53. One thing I’m wondering — I got a rejection that said my story was close and they hoped I would send another story soon. Is that the kind of non-standard form I should bring up if I submit there again? How do you mention that tastefully?

    • Hi, Rosie! I would send a quick thanks to the editor, then get that editor another story asap. You can write something like, “Recently I sent you my story X. Unfortunately, it was a close miss and you asked me to send again. Thanks for your feedback, and for the invitation! I think you’ll like my latest effort, Y.” Or something like that. Let us know how it goes!

  54. Bodacious Ledes and fantabulous body! These are great tips Linda, thanks.

    I started out writing for local lifestyle magazines and then some speciality magazines. Yes, they pay pretty well, but all of them were notoriously slow in paying. The record was 1 year later and then only after steadily reminding the editor. Many magazines are now using contracts, so that helps somewhat in the pay area and copyright can also be negotiated. It might be helpful for new writers to see if there is a contract that goes with the acceptance of an article.

    Thanks again for this informative post.

    • Thanks, Kim!

      I would never write for a publication that didn’t offer a contract or at least allow me to send them a contract of my own. I think I had the no-contract problem just once in my 20 years of freelancing, with the second article I ever sold. I was afraid to ask for a contract, the editor told me “Oh, we pay around $X” — and I never got paid.

      My writer friend Carol Tice, when asked whether you need a contract, always responds, “Only if you want to get paid.” 🙂

      That said, I have had some SLOW payers despite the contracts. For example, a MAJOR women’s magazine took nine months to pay me. I knew they were good for it, so I didn’t freak even as I dinged them every so often for a check, but it’s no fun to wait nine months to get paid. A big parenting magazine I wrote for paid on publication, but was notorious for pushing off the pub date. (I only wrote for them because I was friends with the editor, and I knew that however slow they were, they were always good for it.)

      I wonder what these editors would have done if their paychecks were one WEEK late?

  55. Reading this sure makes me wish I was a better writer! I like to write, but I don’t think I’m nearly good enough to ever be able to convince someone to pay me $250 an hour to do it!

    • Dylan, here’s the thing: You don’t HAVE to convince people to pay you $250 per hour! 🙂 You don’t want to charge your clients and hourly rate because that invites micromanagement, and penalizes you if you’re a fast writer. I have a post on about how I earn $250 per hour (and you can, too) — including by writing fast, offering tons of value, and mastering your craft. You can go to Copyblogger and do a search on “Formichelli” and you’ll find it.

  56. This is both helpful and encouraging, Linda. For what it’s worth, a long time ago ( mid-1990’s) I followed up on a query I’d sent by calling Cosmopolitan Magazine. I’ve long since forgotten the name of the male editor to whom I spoke. He didn’t yell at me, true, but he certainly did treat me like so much chopped liver. I had a practice to run and a full life to live, I started working on a book, and Cosmo never heard from me again.

    But there are other fish in the sea.

    • That guy sounds like a jerk — but I hope it didn’t dissuade you from pitching magazines altogether. You’ll run into editors of all kinds, from brusque to super sweet. I’ve actually most enjoyed working with editors who aren’t afraid to tell it like it is.

  57. Loved this, Linda, and very helpful. I was sending out a query or two a week and stopped. Yes, rejection and busyness got the better of me. But your post has given me the incentive to start again. Thank you.

    • Glad to hear you’ll keep pitching, Laurie! I know…it can be discouraging to get a lot of No’s. But also, whenever you get a “nice” rejection from an editor, like where they ask you to pitch again, offer a compliment on your idea but say they have a similar one underway — consider it a win, and an opening to build a relationship with that editor!

  58. Sheezus fries, this is a lot to read! Been writing for my blog, like forever, and little did I know that there’s an ocean out there and here I am staying put in my little puddle. Thank you, Linda, for these great insights. I can’t wait to get my body out of the office (as a web content writer) and start exploring the world out there – and maybe get published (wishful thoughts, forgive me). Thank you so much for this again, Linda!

  59. That was very informative. I am new to the blogging world and it almost came as a reflex; the thought of writing for magazines or having my own column in a local daily. Now that I know what to expect when I approach them, I sure shall have more patience in dealing with it. Thanks

  60. Linda,

    This post reeks of awesome sauce! Thanks a lot! As I’ve dipped my toes in blogging, and have gotten posted on some pretty large websites, I want to venture into magazine writing. I was thinking about enrolling in J-School with you and Carol Tice. Is that a good alternative to your magazine writing class? When’s the next time it will be available?

    Again, awesome article!

    • Thanks, Monica! I’d say J School, because I’m not sure if/when I’ll be running Write for Magazines again. I’d email Carol at carol @ to ask when she’ll be running that again. Good luck with your new direction!

  61. That was very informative. I am new to the blogging world and it almost came as a reflex; the thought of writing for magazines or having my own column in a local daily. Now that I know what to expect when I approach them, I sure shall have more patience in dealing with it. Thanks


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