How to Find Work from Home Writing Jobs (2021 Edition)

When I was a little kid, I used to walk around my house with a notepad and inundate my parents with questions. Then Id take those notes and use them to create a two-sentence article, which became features for one-page newspapers and magazines.

Fast forward about 20 years to when I saw my name in print for the first time. What a rush. Every writer should have a chance at that feeling; its one of the best.

The other best feeling, of course, is helping fellow writers land that byline.So, heres how to write a magazine article, broken down into ten easy steps:

If youre thinking about how to write an article for a magazine, you may already have titles in mind. Thats great go ahead and pitch them!

Its also fine not to have a target publication in mind. Dont worry, theyre out there!

There are household names like Cosmo, Time, and People, but theyre just the tip of the iceberg.

For pieces that target the general public, including people with specific hobby interests, there are plenty ofin-flight magazinesand corporate-sponsored online publications looking for writers.

For professional audiences, trade publications are great, and theres plenty of them. You can find one by Googling the name of a specific industry plus trade publication, or check . Alternatively, if your topic is more general-audience oriented, think about pitchinglocal/regional magazines, national magazines targeted at a certain age/income group or magazines which come as supplements with newspapers.

Whichever direction you decide to go, take plenty of time to choose the right magazine. The fit between an article and a magazine is a big part of whether that article succeeds.

The only way to pitch the right article to a publication is to know what they already publish. Before you do anything else, get a copy of the magazine or check out its website and read some digitally printed articles you should look for ideas for how to adapt your subject treatment to their style.

Read at least five articles, regardless of format, and learn as much as you can about who the magazine is targeting. Try toidentify the target readerby their:

Identify whether there are specific characteristics of the target audience that you should know. Trade publications, for example, inherently aim their content toward professionals in a particular field. Niche interest magazines well, that ones fairly obvious.

Reading articles that the magazine has published will give you an idea not only of the magazines readership but also the story angles and tone that they tend to prefer, and therefore how to pitch them an idea which will be appealing.

Keep your eyes open for red or green flags (not literally, of course). Sometimes, youll find that your idea fits perfectly within the magazines content calendar. At other times, youll realize its not quite right for this publication.

Sometimes, the article wont work no matter how hard you try, and thats okay. Its not anything against your article; it just means that youll need to pitch to a different publication.

Thats also fine. It might even make your life easier because you dont have to, as one writer I know delicately puts it, kill off your baby. You just have to find a baby, which is no easy task either.

As youre reading the magazine youve chosen, brainstorm article ideas that come to you. They wont all be winners but write them down anyway. Keep brainstorming as your mind processes what youve read.

Meanwhile, pay attention to the news. You wont necessarily pitch a hard-hitting political editorial, but current events inform almost every industry and even many hobbies. The US just elected a zombie as president? See if Good Housekeeping wants an expos on how the White House might redecorate.

An angle is your approach to the topic. Its your way of telling the audience why you care about the story and why they should too.

In researching this article (every article gets researched!), I encountered a spot-ondefinition of angle:Its the lens through which the writer filters the information and focuses it to make it meaningful.

I like this definition because it clearly distinguishes the angle from the topic. Two writers can consider the same topic but because they view it from different angles through different lenses they create a completely different image.

For example, imagine two writers who are crafting articles about the recent zombie apocalypse. The first writer, whos pitching to a trade publication for contractors, focuses on techniques for repairing zombie-damaged homes. The second wants to pitch to Psychology Today, so they choose the angle of how zombie PTSD has put an increased load on therapists private practices. How to frame stories like this is a skill you pick up over time (and a good reason to be a generalist rather than a specialist, in many cases).

Your angle is the most important part of your query. It tells the editor most of what they need to know about why your article matters, who will want to read it, and why you feel compelled to write it. This will be the first sentence or two of your pitch.

Youll also need to include a little bitabout yourself as a writer. Think of this as a mini-bio (emphasis on the mini). Open with a few compelling words about what you write and why youre qualified to write it. If you have names to drop a degree youve earned, a certification, or big-name magazines that have published your writing definitely drop them.

All told, your pitch should be no more than two paragraphs. One is better. It shows you can express a complex idea succinctly. Editors love that.Heres a full guide on how to writing a query letter, which you may find useful.

From here on out, were assuming that you got the gig. This may not be the case the first time around and thats normal. Dont give up if you get a few or many rejections before you get an article accepted.

Once you do, of course, step 5.5 will be to celebrate. Youve earned it. Then its time to dust the confetti off your shoulders, finish off your last bite of cake, and get down to business.

Read the message from the editor who hired you. Make sure you know what their expectations are for the piece. That includes word count, deadline, and any structural requirements the publication has given you.

If they havent given you a style guide, ask if they have one itll tell you how to write in the house style and will dramatically cut down the editing you (or the subeditor) will have to do after you submit your piece. Make sure you know whether they use AP style, Chicago, or something else altogether.

Researching is one of my favorite aspects of writing. Its like brainstorming in reverse instead of waiting to see whats going to come out of my fingers, I just have to keep my mind open for exciting facts and new ways of thinking.

Let your research take you where it will, but always check the legitimacy of the source before you use it. Look for:

within the last year or two. Nothing from a prior decade, unless youre specifically looking for historical information

with verifiable backgrounds. If you dont already recognize the website and the author as highly respected, check credentials.

, or as primary as possible. If an article references a study, keep digging until you find the study, and then use that.

Look at your research and think about what sub-topics might benefit from first-hand accounts or the insights of working professionals. Interviews add a lot to an article, and editors love them.

There are lots ofways to find experts, from tapping your network to cold calling an association or agency in the industry youre targeting. PR agencies can also be great resources for pointing you toward someone who has specialized expertise in a particular topic.

Prepare, prepare, prepare. Make a list of questions beforehand and check it against your outline to be sure youre not missing anything. Make sure your list includes the basic information like name, job title, and location.

Hold the interviewat a time and place thats convenient for the source. Record the interview if you can get explicit permission and if the source seems comfortable with being recorded.

Ask as many open-ended questions as possible. Its okay to follow the sources lead if they take you in an unexpected direction but dont stray too far off-topic.

Outlining is another of my favorite parts of writing. Theres just something about taking all of those chaotic research notes and putting them in a nice neat outline.

There are lots of ways of outlining, and you should feel free to use whichever technique appeals to you. Personally, I like a basic skeleton outline. It lets me line out all of the sub-topics I want to write about, in the order I want to write about them. Then I make a brief note of the supporting details.

Heres a sample of what it might look like (thanks to theWriting Center Workshop).

This is just a template. No one will be seeing your outline but you, so choose any structure and style that makes your writing life easier.

This is the really fun part, and it gets to be even more fun when youve invested the time in solid researching and outlining. By the time you get to this part, youre so well-prepared that the words can just flow.

Now you have a road map for writing for a magazine, all the way from concept to execution. So what are you waiting for? Go write, and come back to add the piece to your portfolio when you get your byline!

Laura is a full-time freelance writer with a background in playwriting, theater, and dance. She especially loves writing articles that help creatives and freelancers manage their time, talent, and money.

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