Having a bylined article in a major magazine is a top goal for many writers. The good news is that writing for magazines can be very rewarding if you know how. Follow basic steps, including targeting the right magazine for your article, pitching a timely and relevant idea and turning in solid work. You can learn how to write a magazine article by adopting the tricks of the trade that journalists use, even if you’re new to writing.
Get to Know the Magazine
Whatever kind of magazine you want to write for, you need to know the publication. Get copies of magazines that interest you and read them from cover to cover to get a handle on brand, voice and style. Also get publications' writers' guidelines and media kits. The media kit will give you the lowdown on audience demographics. Perusing this information will help you understand their needs and interest. Writers' guidelines provide information such as word count, submission procedures, payment and writer rights.
Pick Your Topic
Choose a topic that's relevant, timely and useful for the magazine's readership. Start the process by brainstorming a list of issues, concerns or problems that the audience may have. Don’t settle on a topic that’s too broad or too narrow. If you can't succinctly address the topic in one article, it's too broad. If you can explain it in just a few sentences, it's too narrow.
Conduct Preliminary Research
Complete initial research to make sure you have viable information on your topic. Before pitching an article to an editor, you’ll need to identify potential sources that bring credibility to your story. You must support your article with credible facts and reliable sources. Lively quotes and examples will make the article pop. Outline your article and list the sources and facts you plan to use.
Pitch and Query
Make your best pitch to the magazine editor about your story idea in a query letter. State the proposed title, the essence of the article, why the topic's relevant and why you're qualified to write the article. Your goal is to convince an editor that you have a compelling story and are capable of writing it. Follow up the query with a quick note if you don't receive a response after a couple of weeks. Realize that rejections are part of the process. Expect them, learn from them and move on to your next query.
Write, Edit and Submit
When you get the nod to write your article, complete the research and write with the publication's voice and style in mind. Article formats vary by publication, but basic parts include a compelling lead paragraph, the body and the conclusion. The body provides important details that readers need and usually includes at least several paragraphs. Make sure you read, fact-check and edit your article before submission. Don’t take it personally if an editor requests rewrites.