Every amateur writer dreams of seeing their work published in magazines that have a wide audience. For seasoned writers, this means additional work and income aside from the sense of satisfaction that it gives. Whether you are an amateur or professional writer, magazine articles are definitely a big boost to a writer’s career. This can also serve as a stepping stone to more writing jobs and assignments. But as an armature have you ever wondered how to write a magazine article?
If you are aspiring to be a magazine writer, most probably you will be doing so as a freelancer. You will need to prepare yourself and do some background research in order to increase the chances of your article being accepted and published. Here are some tips to get you started.
How to Write a Magazine Article
Think of a topic that you can write about.
1. Identify a specific publication that you want to write for.
In order for you to come up with an idea of what to write about, it helps to get to know your target publication. If you are interested in writing for a particular magazine, get a few copies of their recent issues and read through them. It would definitely be an advantage if this magazine is something that you already subscribe to or enjoy reading. Some important points to take note of:
- Do they accept articles from freelance writers? You will know this by looking at the names on the masthead and checking them against the bylines. If the names are not the same, it’s because they hire freelancers to write for them.
- Identify the editors that you need to get in touch with. If you are thinking of writing an article about current events and features, then you need to know the name and contact details of the features editor. The same goes true if you are writing about fashion, technology, health and wellness, etc. You only need to know the contact person of the specific section that you intend to write about. Directly contacting the higher ups would most likely get you rejected at the onset, as they would most probably not have the time nor the opportunity to entertain freelancers.
- Make a mental note of the topics most often included in the publication and how they attack them. Different magazines usually have a specific angle or spin on the issues that they choose to publish. They could either be on the more controversial tone or a more factual, objective tone. You should also note whether they are open to more experimental forms and contents or are more likely to appreciate the traditional approach.
- In general, different articles are written in different styles. However, most publications will display a consistent trend in the writing style of its articles. This is evident mostly in the way headlines are written, in the introduction of each article, in their uses of statistics, and the way they end the articles – either with a quote, an anecdote or a bold conclusion. You should take note of these preferences of the publisher and try to incorporate them in your proposed article.
- The type of sources quoted in most articles will also play a part in your article-writing. You will immediately notice if a particular publication prefers academically written articles by the sources cited in each article, or whether they are more on the laymen type.
2. Identify the most recent trending topics
Sometimes the best ideas lie hidden in your recent conversations with friends, a trending topic in social media interactions, or even a simple statement that you come across on other people’s Facebook page. Pick out a topic that has the most impact on you, that you feel is something that you can write passionately about. These conversations or trending topics need not necessarily be something big or deep in order for a good article to come out of it. More often than not, simple ideas often balloon into great conversation – and article – topics that will instantly catch the interest and attention of your target publishers and readers.
3. Check out the local community calendar.
Your area’s calendar of upcoming events may just turn up a newsworthy activity that you can write about for the local publication. Simple events like local festivals or a business opening could provide an interesting angle that will merit a page in your community magazine. Human interest stories related to such events are often sought out by local publications.
4. Read up on other writers’ published articles.
Get to know the trends that writers are talking about and see if you can find a different angle on the stories, or put an interesting twist on existing topics and articles. Talk about what people are talking about and you will surely get an audience for your article. You can also research on trending topics and ideas through social media hashtags and start building your outline from there.
5. Find a new angle on a frequently discussed topic.
Even if various articles have already been written about a specific topic, different writers would often have a different attack or angle on the story, and you just might be able to bring something fresh and relevant into a familiar topic. Your own take on it should stand out from the rest and engage your readers enough so as to land a page in a magazine publication.
Drafting Your Article
1. Conduct a thorough, proper research on your topic.
A well-researched article will always make an impression, especially when backed by good sources such as books, published articles and papers. Read through your material carefully and take note of good quotes that you can use to strengthen your article. These strategically used quotes and sources will often establish or harm your credibility as a writer and give you a solid article.
- Identify sources that are written by experts on the topic you are writing about. If you are writing about cancer, for example, you need to find materials by medical experts in the field, journals and research that are as recent as possible.
- Make sure that the materials you will be citing in your article are credible and factual. Use extra caution and discernment when using material you find online, and check to see that these websites are affiliated with legitimate organizations. Claims that are unfounded must not find their way into your article. Be sure to identify the experts in the field that you are writing about and use a well-rounded, unbiased approach in writing your article.
2. Identify people who are good sources for your article.
Think of people who may have an expert opinion on the topic you are writing about. If you are writing about spas and fitness centres, a fitness instructor or a spa owner would be a great source. Clients would also be able to provide valuable insight and information on the topic. For a more intriguing angle on your story, you could also identify a client who had a bad experience with these establishments. There are a lot of sources that you could contact to contribute to the article you are writing about.
3. The interview proper.
After you have identified your potential sources, set up an appointment with them to conduct an interview. Make sure to earn their trust and build rapport with these individuals as they would be valuable contributors to your article. Come prepared with a set of questions and make your research before the interview. Listen actively and try to let your source do most of the talking. Once the interview is done, do not hesitate to call them for clarifications or any other follow up questions.
4. Transcribe all your interviews.
Set aside time to type out the interviews you conducted, and have an available copy of these transcriptions for checking or confirming quotes and sources. Your editor will require for these written documents for reference and checking.
5. Prepare an outline for your article.
Making an outline will help you organize your thoughts from all the research and interviews that you have conducted.
- The outline should start with an introduction which contains your main point. The article body should contain your supporting points, with quotes from your sources and important pieces of information that you gathered from your research. End by restating your main point in your conclusion.
- Take note of the structure of your article. Be as straightforward as you can.
- Make sure you know the required word count for the article you are writing.
- Decide whether you want to include an image with the article, and if so, where to source them. You can also use your own images.
6. Obtain a copy of the publisher’s contributor’s guidelines and write your initial draft within these guidelines.
This will save you from additional work of rewriting your entire draft when the editor sees that your article does not adhere to their publication’s guidelines and style sheet.
7. Your first sentence should immediately hook your readers.
A strongly written article will instantly pique your readers’ attention and engage them from the start to the end of your article. A thought-provoking statement or question, an anecdote, or a quote will definitely draw your readers from start to finish.
8. Weave in relevant information and quote your sources in strategic places.
Make sure that all the valuable bits of information you collected through research and interviews are included to support your topic and give credibility to your article. You do not need to fill your article entirely with quotations; only those that will add impact to your topic and support the claims that are made in the write-up.
9. End with a strong conclusion
A strong conclusion will make the reader pleased enough with the article to want to know more about it in the future. Leave just enough room for curiosity, so that they will anticipate a follow-up on the article.
Have your initial draft read by the editor for feedback and comments. The editor should be able to tell you if the angle you are working on is effective and clearly defined, or if the article in general fits the publication’s style and focus. Be open to suggestions and corrections, and be willing to work on improving your draft if necessary. ‘
Aside from the editor, you may also approach a fellow writer for feedback on your initial draft. Feedback from your peers and editor together will help you come up with a strong article in terms of style, content, flow and structure.
With your editor’s feedback in mind, revise your draft and improve the flow and structure, if necessary. Read your article aloud, watching out for awkward flow or unnecessary use of words. Don’t think twice about chopping off large sections of your draft in order for it to have a more natural flow and structure all throughout.
Submit your revised article on or before the deadline set by your editor. If this is your first article submission for this publication, submitting on time will create a good impression and show that you work professionally. This also shows that you can deliver future projects in a timely manner.
Most magazines will prefer an electronic copy of your article. Be sure to submit a digital file which your editor can easily work with.
Finally, even when you have complied with your editor’s feedback and suggestions, there is still no guarantee that your article will get published. Thus, you should brace yourself for possible rejection and be willing to go forward from there, and keep trying and improving your craft. Getting your name and article printed on a magazine is hard work and only those who persevere are eventually rewarded and get published. Keep working and improving your style and tone, keep submitting and learning from your previous mistakes. These will all add up to your skills and experience as a writer.