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Women Magazine Writers: Breaking into the Game
As any woman who has tried to make a name in magazine writing knows, it’s not always easy to break into and stay in the game. Here are some tips to give you an edge.
As women, we have an edge over men when it comes to our abilities to listen and to communicate. When we combine those qualities with strong writing skills, we can become topnotch news and feature writers for magazines. But, as anyone who has tried to make a name in magazine writing knows, it’s not always easy to break into and stay in the game. Here are some tips to give you an edge.
Build a Portfolio
If you want to be a magazine writer, you’re going to need a portfolio of published work. If you haven’t been published, start writing for the Web – it’s the easiest place to get published these days. If you can’t get a paid writing gig, then write for free – but make sure that the pieces you write have your byline. You can also write for your own website or blog; just make sure that you’re impeccable with your writing style and grammar, and avoid ranting about controversial topics.
Whether you have a fistful of clippings or only have a few links, it’s important to get your portfolio online. Keep in mind that content on the Web is constantly changing, so don’t rely on links to your articles. If you have Web content in your portfolio, take a screen shot of your piece and turn it into a PDF file. The same holds true for your print articles. Editors don’t want to receive a stack of copied clippings; they want to be able to see your work with a few mouse clicks. So turn your portfolio into a set of PDFs and put them on your website.
Find Your Niche
If you’re a good writer, you can most likely write about almost any topic. Nevertheless, in order to market yourself, it’s best to find your niche. Maybe you excel in delving into medical journals and writing about health topics. Perhaps you’re an ace interviewer and can write exceptional profiles. It could be that you have a depth and breadth of knowledge about a very specific topic, such as women’s infertility. Or, maybe you have a natural ability to write for a teenage readership. Understanding your niche will help you pitch the right topics to the right magazines.
Be Pitch Perfect
Most magazine editors receive pitches from dozens of freelancers every week. In order to get noticed, your pitch has to be fantastic. Start by doing your research, and only pitch to magazines that fit your niche. Don’t overlook local or regional magazines; in fact, savvy writers can turn their regional writing into syndicated pieces that they can sell over and over again.
It’s also important to make your pitch specific. If you’re going to pitch an article about women’s infertility, for example, tell the editor the angle you’re going to use and why it’s fresh, the experts you’re going to interview, and what her readers will get out of the article. Suggest sidebars and, if you can provide artwork, include that as well.
Underpromise and Overdeliver
Once you get the gig, make sure you’re every editor’s dream-come-true. Submit your article early, provide the names and contact information of your sources so they can be fact-checked, and don’t whine if you need to do a revision or two. Once your piece is published, drop the editor a thank you note and let her know that you’d love to work with her again. That way, you’re sure to be at the top of her list the next time she’s handing out assignments, and you’ll be a bone fide women’s magazine writer!
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