The most visible magazines are mainstream magazines sold on newsstands and in bookstores to the public. Trade magazines, on the other hand, are more exclusive; they are not sold to the public at retail chains and they usually circulate to the magazine’s elite class of subscribers and members. Just as there are countless mainstream magazines on sports, pets, travel, weddings, and lifestyle, you can also find just as many trade magazines that cover the same subjects. Writing for trade magazines pays well (sometimes higher than mainstream magazines) and they regularly use freelance writers.
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Breaking into trade magazines as a freelance writer can be tricky. Many editors of trade magazines choose not to list their writer’s guidelines. Editors of trade magazines are extremely busy and short-staffed. These editors avoid having an open call for submissions to avoid a ceaseless cycle of reviewing, critiquing and rejecting unsolicited articles and query letters sent in by writers, non-writers and their moms. You will not find their writer’s guidelines in Writer’s Marketplace and they may not post their guidelines online at their website. Many freelance writers break into trade magazines by pitching an idea to the editor or contacting the editor directly. These freelance writers pitch brilliant article ideas, they’ve reviewed the magazine in advance, and they aggressively market themselves and their work with confidence.
Here are some frequently asked questions about freelance writing for trade magazines:
Question # 1: What are some advantages of writing for trade magazines, as opposed to writing for mainstream (newsstand) magazines?
Answer: The first advantage is the smaller number of competitors (other freelance writers). Many writers, especially amateurs, don’t routinely research trade magazines for potential writing assignments. However, this also means it’s often up to you, the writer, to educate an editor on the advantage of using your work.
The second advantage is that trade magazines are usually understaffed. When an editor finds a good freelancer, they not only accept the initial story but also ask the writer to accept future assignments.