Writing for Magazines - Is It the Perfect Job for You?

by Suzanne Lieurance, the Working Writer's Coach

Happy Valentine's Day from the beach! Life is good here in Florida, where I live and write by the sea. One of the reasons it is so good is because I have the perfect job. This wasn't always the case.

Years ago I was a classroom teacher in the midwest. While I loved working with my students, I did not love the restrictions of working in a classroom, so one summer I decided to quit my teaching job to become a full-time writer. It was scary at first. But within 3 months I had more than doubled my monthly income as a teacher. One of the ways I was able to do this was by writing for magazines.

In many ways, writing for magazines is the perfect job for me. If you like to write, it just might be the perfect job for you, too.

The Pros of Writing for Magazines
One of the best reasons to write for magazines is because you can create a substantial income this way. But there are lots of other perks, including:

1. You can work when and where you want. Now that I live in a beautiful condo on the beach in southern Florida, I often work on magazine articles in the early morning as I watch the sun rise over the Atlantic Ocean from my balcony. Other times I take my writing with me when we travel. I might write from a hotel room, or a friend's house in some distant city. I've even been known to jot down a few notes for a magazine article in my pocket notebook when we're having dinner at a nice restaurant.

2. You can write about a wide variety of topics, depending on your interests, skills, and contacts. Almost anything can be turned into a piece for a magazine. I've written articles, essays, and stories about all sorts of things, and it's so fun to see these pieces published in magazines. It's even MORE fun to be paid for writing them.

3. You can become a better writer. Writing for magazines has helped me become a better writer in many ways. I've learned how to research a topic and find expert sources. I've learned how to turn a fun idea into a marketable idea (one an editor is willing to buy).

4. You can turn your travels into articles. While I'm not a travel writer, per se, I have used my travels as the basis for articles from time to time. This has also resulted in free press passes, and even my family being featured in a national magazine.

5. You can have assignments come to you. It's tough to keep tracking down new assignments, week after week, which is why writing for magazines is the perfect job. Once you break in with one of the publications you wish to write for, and you write at least a couple of articles for this publication, most likely, the editor will start contacting you with assignments.

6. You can write magazine articles faster than you can write books, so you can make more money quicker. I've written over two dozen published books. Many of these books were written on assignment from a publisher. Most of these books have taken months to write. All of the magazine articles I've written have taken just days or weeks to write. With this in mind, I make much more writing a magazine article than I do writing a book and I make it faster. I love writing books. But when I need cash, I write magazine articles.

While there are many great things about writing for magazines, there are also a few things to consider before you decide if this might be the perfect job for you.

The Cons of Writing for Magazines
1. It often takes a while to break in with any publication. Most writers who try writing for magazines give up when they don't immediately get an assignment from a publication they wish to write for. You must be prepared to submit several queries to a particular publication before they finally accept one of your queries. If you learn how to write "winning queries" you'll have a better chance of breaking in with your first query. But don't give up. Keep pitching ideas until you finally get an assignment.

2. You'll need to start with no-pay or low-pay markets, for the most part. You probably won't get an assignment from OPRAH magazine until you get some clips from smaller markets. Still, there are ways to break in with major magazines even before you get published in smaller publications. You just need to learn how.

3. You need to have plenty of ideas, all the time. Writing for magazines is a numbers game. You need to have queries out making the rounds to publishers at all times.

4. You must be able to handle deadlines. If you're a professional writer, you already deal with deadlines. But magazines often have tight deadlines because once you break in with any publication, an editor can call with an assignment that another writer suddenly couldn't do or complete and you'll have only days or weeks to meet the deadline if you accept the assignment.

5. You must have confidence in yourself and your writing ability. If you're afraid of rejection, writing for magazines probably won't be your perfect job because you'll get rejections all the time, even when you start breaking in with major publications.

6. You must be willing to take direction from editors. Again, if you're a professional writer you're used to taking direction from editors. But if you hate to change a single word you've written, then writing for magazines won't be your perfect job.

Okay...so now that you have some of the many pros and cons of writing for magazines, you might decide, like I did, that this is the perfect job for you.

If you do, what's the next step?

Well, you should study the markets, of course.

Try it!

Suzanne Lieurance is an author, freelance writer, certified professional life coach and writing coach, speaker and workshop presenter. She has written over two dozen published books and hundreds of articles for newspapers, magazines, and other publications. She lives and writes by the sea in Jensen Beach, Florida. She can teach you everything you need to know to start making money writing for magazines. Find out more about her new program, The Quick Start System to Writing for Magazines at www.howtowriteformagazines.com and sign up for her free 5-module e-course, Jumpstart Your Freelance Writing Career, at www.morningnudge.com


Heidiwriter said...

Magazine writing can be quite rewarding. Good post, Suzanne!

Karen Cioffi said...

Suzanne, great information on the pros and cons of writing for magazines. I think the pros outweigh the cons.

I'm taking your course and look forward to each module!

Suzanne Lieurance said...

Hi, Heidi and Karen,

Yes, magazine writing can be rewarding in so many ways. Karen, I look forward to seeing you start writing for some major magazines soon. You're already so good at article writing!

Joan Y. Edwards said...

Dear Suzanne,
Thanks for sharing your success with writing for magazines. I am very proud of you! Great pros and cons.

Never Give Up

T. Forehand said...

Great info. Although I have many rejections I am working on this too. Yoir course is very helpful for reaching that goal.

Suzanne Lieurance said...

Terri, since you've taken my course, take advantage of having me review some of your queries before you send them out. I should be able to help you get more acceptances and fewer rejections.

Shirley Corder said...

Thanks for some good points, Suzanne. I haven't written for magazines for a while but I know my main problem was always finding markets to match my ideas!

Suzanne Lieurance said...

Hi, Shirley,
Try choosing a few markets first, then think of an idea for those specific markets and get a query out to one of them. If the first market doesn't buy it, then try the second, then the third. It's much easier to sell something if you think of the market first and the idea second. Good luck!

Mary Jo Guglielmo said...

Great post Suzanne. Rejection is a part of the publication process for all markets.

Suzanne Lieurance said...

Hi, Mary Jo. Yep. Rejection is just part of life for writers. But it's like they always say, every rejection takes you one step closer to an acceptance.

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