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How to Become a Successful Trade Magazine Writer?

Updated on June 12, 2019
FelishiyaPS profile image

Prachi has been working as a freelance writer since 2012. When not writing, she helps people with web designing and development.

What is Trade Magazine?

A trade magazine is a periodical that deals with specific industry or trade such as apparel and fashion, retailing or architecture or any other industry. It is also called a trade journal or trade paper.

The magazines that you see available on news-stands and bookstores are the mainstream magazines. Trade magazines are a bit different from them. They are not for the public and are never available at retail chains. They are circulated only to magazines’ subscribers and members. Writing for trade magazines accounts for good salary (even higher than mainstream magazines) and they also hire freelance writers on a regular basis.

How much do trade magazines pay?

Since they require highly specialized tailor-made material, there is no doubt most of the trade magazines pay $1 for a word or more. I have written on several different topics from the taste of wine to golf course management and trust me, I got paid really well.

Editors at Trade Magazines

  • Getting your job at trade magazine as a freelance writer is certainly tricky.
  • Editors rarely list submission guidelines for writers at their respective websites.
  • They are pre-occupied with lots of work, due to short-staff.
  • They would never go for an open call to ask you to submit the articles because the cycle of reviewing, analysing and rejecting articles and query letters can eat up lots of their time.
  • They like to hear ideas that are unique and relates to their niche. If you have it, pitch them directly, but make sure it’s short ’n’ sweet.

Most Important Rules of Trade Magazines

  • Never insult anyone
  • Never talk about products’ or services’ flaws. It may risk the reputation of the trade magazine.
  • If you are asked to do yellow journalism, politely say no to the assignment unless you have strong connections and possess an industrial expertise knowledge.
  • Don’t dive deep into criticism, make it fun with light-hearted words.

“How will this help me?”

Keep this question in mind while writing any trade publication article. This is the question that your readers will have while reading your article. Articles of trade magazines live by its “usability”. Provide your readers with useful steps that they must take to do something essential.

Some Guidelines for Writing Content

  • Avoid using quotes. Readers are less interested in what the professionals have to say, they are more interested in what industry experts have to say to make their career better.
  • Avoid writing product pitches. Even if you are asked to write for a product, don’t use it in your byline. You may sound more like a promoter than a writer.
  • Avoid using the passive voice and long sentences. While trade magazines are specialised and technical, make sure to use the same language as is used in consumer magazines.

Who writes for trade magazines?

Some industries demand highly experienced and specialized writers, while others may for entry-level writers. Be sure to read their guidelines, before applying, if they work with industry experts only or prefer newbies as well.

I admit trade magazines do not have that glamour quotient as other magazines. It won’t be a concern anymore when you’ll realise how much trade magazines are paid.

Many publications also go off-genre and include articles that are not at all related to their specific field. You can find many publications that actually deal with finance or law, but also have articles related to vacations or dining.

Before pitching your favourite trade magazine, make sure you know what they specifically deal in. It is possible that there are trade publications who write for the same industry but differ in their coverage style.

How trade magazines are more beneficial than mainstream magazines for writers?

The biggest advantage is that the competition is comparatively very low. Most of the writers, especially beginners, don’t prefer to write for trade magazines.

The staff working in trade magazines is pretty less in number. thus, when an editor comes across a potential freelancer, they not only accept their submission but also ask them to work on future assignments as well.

Finally, the reputation that you develop writing for these magazines gives you a highly competitive edge, making you a preferable choice for other magazines as well. You have the advantage of receiving work call from other magazines’ editors as well.

How to find the best Trade Magazines?

Since most of these magazines have their publishing centres in the U.S. You can find the list of almost every trade magazines at the website www.srds.com. Check out with your friends, what kind of magazines they read. You can also find the list on freebizmag.com, freetradepubs.com and tradepub.com.

How to pitch to a trade magazine?

You have two options, either call them or send an email query. If you are new, then it is better to send an email query. On the other hand, if you have some credits on your name, go ahead and call the editor to discuss your idea. Even if he/she doesn’t get kicked by your idea, they may some other story, which you can help them to write about.

Related Content: How to Get Your Work Published in Magazines and Other Publications

How to write a perfect article, when there are no writer’s guidelines available?

It’s true, less than 10% of the trade magazines have clear guidelines on article submission. In such a situation, it is better to get a copy of the particular magazine first. Observe how the headlines are put together and what’s the length of the articles. Check the masthead to know about staff and individual contributors. You’ll come to know if the individual contributors are industry experts or independent writers just like you. Besides, check the name of the writers who wrote the articles. Are most of these staff members? If yes, then the editor may welcome your query to lessen the burden on staff and themselves.

How to tackle challenges that freelance writers may face while working for trade magazines?

Being new, it is difficult for freelance writers to find the right people with useful information. It is recommended to have specialisation in a certain area, which is equally valuable for a mainstream journalist. If you specialize in real estate, work to leverage your skills. You can tie your specialised field with other industries such as construction, hospital management, manufacturing, etc.

You need to know discretion by heart. Every business has secrets that they don’t want to reveal to their competitors. You should maintain the trust, develop good judgement skills to understand how much information you can use in your work. Don’t cheat your contacts. Be genuine with them and they’ll be genuine with you.

How to fetch new ideas that trade magazines find interesting?

The most general and popular article in almost every trade magazine is, “Who did What, and Why?” You can get ideas by reading what others are doing in the same industry and share the same in your articles. It excites readers to know what their counterparts are doing in a similar field. “List” articles are also one of the favourites of masses. Basically, trade magazines are all about, “Who’s who, Who’s new and What’s new?”

You may find people criticising the concept of trade magazines calling it a “boring” field. If it’s not about glamour and hot girls and boys, then it doesn’t mean its boring. It's the writing that makes all the difference. You need to research to figure out what the audience likes more. Writing to match their interest and needs. And you’ll realise it’s fun and a well-paid gig.

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    • profile image

      Lady Dixon 

      4 months ago

      Thanks lots for your piece of advice. I will look into it and perhaps even contact both of them :) Cheerio!

    • FelishiyaPS profile imageAUTHOR

      Prachi Sharma 

      4 months ago from India

      Hi Lady Dixon, thank you for your feedback. If you wish to know more about trade magazines, then I'm ready to lend a hand.

      There are many worldwide famous UK publications, as you can find on Google. But, I personally got the chance to work with Hachette Livre and HarperCollins. Hachette Livre is a France publication, extensively popular in the UK. Both of these are amazing and pay really well.

      I recently contacted Bloomsbury, hope to receive a positive response from them.

      All the Best to you..!!

    • profile image

      Lady Dixon 

      4 months ago

      Really insightful and thorough article. I wasn't aware of the differences between trade and mainstream magazines, and how either caters for a different audience. Do you happen to know of any publisher's in the UK?

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