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How to Write for Automotive Magazines

Updated on June 19, 2019
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Prachi has been working as a freelance writer since 2012. When not writing, she helps people with web designing and development.

Being from a technical background, I find myself at ease to write for technical genre. It was during my idle times when I got hold of few articles from automotive magazines and they actually sounded very interesting to me. There is no doubt trade magazines do pay very well, from 50 cents per word to a dollar or more. I was also thrilled by the process of extensive research and educating myself by writing about such topics like cars, vehicle working mechanism and so on.

I have noticed that many trade journals highly prefer a journalistic way of writing, which includes news related to trade companies and organizations. On the other hand, some of them also go for illustrated articles which describe the latest car models, advanced accessories, features of racing cars and so on. I used to go to the car shows to discover what sort of technology are the vehicle manufacturers using in their latest models. I didn’t know it would help me later to write articles about auto shows as well as how-to articles targeted at vehicle enthusiasts especially those who love cars.

What are the responsibilities of an Automotive Magazine Writer?

Besides writing skills, an automobile writer needs to handle the following responsibilities:

  • Reviewing and reporting skills on new vehicles.
  • Reporting of latest developments in the automobile industry.
  • Test driving new vehicles and providing reviews to the customers about the same.
  • Possess wide knowledge about the different types of vehicles. You can specialize as well, like in cars.
  • Have strong connections with the industry analysts.

Be Active, Be Smart. An automotive writing can be your dream job.
Be Active, Be Smart. An automotive writing can be your dream job.

What are the prerequisites for becoming an Automobile Writer?

The automobile is a wide field and a fast-growing industry. Editors look for writers who have deep knowledge and enthusiasm to learn new things quickly. Even if you don’t have a degree in journalism or writing, you can still write for these trade journals. Follow the following points:

  • Take journalism and writing classes.
  • Write for newspaper and magazines that publish articles at the school level. This will help you build a collection of writing samples.
  • Read automobile related news. Some newspapers exclusively publish news related to automobiles, you can find them with a one search click on Google.
  • Get yourself acknowledged with the history of automobiles.
  • Attend car shows. Every year thousands of shows are conducted at various places across the globe.
  • Build relationships with industry experts and other journalists during these events. Introduce yourself and discuss cars, news, and method of writing about it.
  • Build a strong background in engineering. Many, but not all, comes from the automotive engineering background. So, they definitely have a competitive edge. It is not important to know everything, but you should be aware of the engineering basics, which will, later, help you learn everything.
  • Follow motorsports on social media and read about them in newspapers. The car race is a crucial part of the automotive industry. You need to know about the players, their cars models and why they choose the specific models.

How to find jobs as an Automobile Writer?

Working as a staff member is a tough call, it is rather a necessity to work as a freelance writer in the beginning.

  • Send query letters and submit your work wherever possible, even to lifestyle and men’s magazines.
  • Write about your automobile interests in a manner that describes your immense knowledge in the field.
  • Mark your calendar with the latest upcoming car events.
  • Stay self-motivated. Facing rejection is nothing exceptional in the automotive industry, many experienced journalists are rejected sometimes. Just keep on trying and improving your writing.
  • Maintain a flexible schedule. As an automobile journalist, you’ll need to travel sometimes to cover a wider perspective of a story.
  • Build your portfolio with your published articles and links to online work.
  • Keep on looking for staff positions. While becoming a staff writer requires efforts and time, you must stay in touch with the editors. Build connections with them and ask them to inform you when there is a vacancy.

Writing Automotive Articles requires to have a Substantial Discrimination just like Writing for Technical Articles

No two publications are completely same. They are running because they have different taste and sense of humor. Based on the readers’ interests, different publishers may ask you for any of the following types of article:

  • Descriptions of personal tours
  • Description of general tours
  • Detailed information about the track, the path you traveled along with maps
  • Articles that are automotive-version of travel and lifestyle experiences
  • Articles related to mechanical short-cuts
  • Various methods of maintenance and operations and so on…

Most of the editors expect freelance writers to also come up with related photographs or illustrations.

Accuracy Matters a LOT

Technical details demand to be extremely precise and accurate. Besides adopting a fine writing style, you need to take care of quotes, facts, and original suggestions. In most of the cases, the editorial board or technical staff or sometimes both analyze every tiny detail in your article. A magazine named The Motor Magazine requires articles which helps readers to get educated on how to repair vehicles and get them serviced. If you are planning to write for them, be accurate with your words, a slight mistake can make their readers distrust them.

Writing Begins with Reading

All great leaders and writers are great readers first.

  • Take short or long courses.
  • Download everything you find readable on your device.
  • Visit the library and get some back issues of automobile magazines.
  • Look for books written by writers like Peter Egan, John Phillips, and Dan Neil.

Work on your Photography Skills

Working as an automobile writer asks you to have good photography skills as well. Most of the editors will expect you to deliver your story with related photos or illustrations.

  • If you don’t have a high-quality DSLR camera, then go and get one.
  • Take a photography class and learn composition and lighting.
  • Learn about the photo credits through websites and magazines.

Is your content unique and valuable?

Not every content you think is remarkable will be liked by your audience. Before finalizing your piece, ask yourself the following questions:

  • Who are my target audiences?
  • How much do they know about the niche?
  • Is the available information enough to write an original article?
  • What else can be added to make it more valuable (details, photos, expert quotes, etc.)?

10 Most Rewarding Topics in Automobile Genre

The automobile industry is so wide that you may end up your whole life learning about everything. But this is not what you are required to do. Below are the ten most important topics that you can brainstorm on. Also, these are the topics editors actually seek for.

What models are out there? Which are the latest ones? Which has gone vintage? What models are highly preferred by the car and motorcycle enthusiasts? Some suggested topics are:

1. Models

  • Latest models
  • Models which are popular among crime spots
  • Budget-friendly models
  • Practical and high-end technology-enhanced models
  • Family-friendly models
  • Energy efficient models
  • Cars or motorcycles favorable for college students

2. Technology and Innovation

Advanced technology added to the automobiles is the driving force of the 21st century. It has flooded the market with a huge number of auto enthusiasts. They have an infinite sense of hunger to know about latest features. They want to know every detail the moment an auto manufacturer launches a new product or feature, such as engine modification, accessories or a gadget. The trendy topics majorly include GPS, hybrid cars, latest technologies, gadgets-based driving, their usage and where to find the most affordable of them.

3. Shows and Races

Every year innumerable audience visit the automobile shows and events to have a look and feel of the latest trends. Car races are always a hot topic among masses. NASCAR is the most famous of all throughout the world. Avail this opportunity, enjoy a magnificent race, make a story out of it and get paid. Sounds interesting? Well, it actually is. You can pitch editors about car shows (both local and international), car racing events and other similar events.

4. Test Drives

Who would not like to get their hands on the latest car models and get paid to go for a test drive? Surely, everyone would do. Being a freelance writer, you have to test drive vehicles and write about the same. Even the richest people want to buy the best and safest cars. Some most read topics are vehicles reviews and their compassion. One of the best examples for such type of writing is Top Gear magazine.

5. Vehicle Maintenance Tips

The average vehicle owner spends almost thousands of dollars every year on their vehicle maintenance alone. Counting everything in such as repairs, oil changes, insurance and gasoline, the average expenditure crosses $1000. Through your articles, you can help them with guidelines to reduce the overall cost. Some other topics can be vehicle maintenance during winters, fuel efficiency monitoring and how to pick the right insurance policy.

6. Vehicle Manufacturers

Auto lovers don’t only thrive on car models and technologies. Who manufactured them also plays a big role in their likes and dislikes. You can write about what these manufacturers are developing, who are designing the vehicles and who are the newcomers in this field. Politics, economic issues are some of the issues you can talk about.

7. Collectibles

It may seem crazy but many people buy cars not for driving but for collecting them. I heard about a man who has a collection of thousands of vintage cars. It sounds crazy, but that’s what keeps them going and satisfied. You can write about vintage cars, car collectibles, its value, vehicle auctions and where to find the most affordable of them. Miniature vehicles are also in the option.

8. Tours

A rise in the production and sale of racing vehicles have been seen across different parts of the world, especially motorcycles. Some enthusiasts are organizing events in which the competitors have to complete a certain tour to win the prize. This mainly includes bikes. If this sounds like your target audience, then you can focus your writing on bike tours, best and most affordable bikes for tours, what accessories to buy, what to pack, how to dress up, and what to avoid. You can also write about biker clubs.

9. Gear and Accessories

People are so moved by their vehicles that they love to try it with different accessories and gears. As per estimation, a single person spends more than a thousand dollar per year on accessories. Not everyone can afford to buy the expensive stuff, even if they wish to. Help them with where they can get the best deals on the latest accessories, how they can modify their vehicles with new designs.

10. How to Buy Guide

With so many options in the market, it is relatively difficult for today’s generation to decide the best vehicle for themselves. Writing a helpful buyer’s guide is a win-win situation for them as a buyer and for you as a writer. Your articles must help them with buying a new, used or vintage vehicles. Editors look for your helpful resources to guide the readers. You can write about which cars to avoid, where to buy second-hand models and how to get their hands on the latest models at a reasonable cost.

Who are your Target Audiences?

Auto magazines are read by millions and millions of people worldwide. You can target auto hobbyists, car shoppers, and motorsports lovers. The age group is between 20 and 50 years. And the number of male readers is more than females.

Where you can Find Work as an Automobile Writer?

Here is a list of the most popular automotive trade magazines where you can submit your work as a freelance writer:

Autoweek publishes everything that relates to automotive lifestyle such as racing news, crossover, cars, trucks, the latest trends and so on.

Motor Trend is one of the most famous US magazines. It covers details about brand new cars, concept cars, used cars, vintage cars, auto shows, road tests and buying information.

4 Wheel and Off-Road exclusively deliver content related to trucks including advanced modification, methods to repair and road tests of the latest truck models.

Car and Driver is a very popular magazine across the globe, read by millions on a monthly basis. It covers performance rating of vehicles, road races, championship events, latest products, technical evaluation. Its target audience is those who have a deep interest in imported and domestic automobiles.

Hot Rod Magazine focuses primarily on hot rodding. It covers details about customized cars, its performance, technologies, trends, events and the game of hot rodding.

Road and Track feature articles on automotive technology and analysis of the latest industry trends. Most of its articles are humorous and based on fiction. It also accepts articles related to travel journeys, racing events and book reviews.

Lowrider Magazine is all about the car styles, especially and obviously, a style called lowrider.

Rider Magazine targets motorcycle enthusiasts who love tours and street riding. It talks about great rides, road tests, news about the places good for riding as well as a lot of technical information about bikes.

Drive Magazine is exclusively written for Subaru owners. It is published on a quarterly basis and distributed to nearly a million owners of Subaru vehicles.

Conclusion

Writing for automobile magazines is a lucrative and competitive field, you need to be smart and always actively looking for new trends in the markets. Here are some additional tips, that you’ll certainly find helpful:

  • Your articles must range in between 300 to 2,000 words.
  • You need to have a high-level technical aptitude.
  • You show know how to explain jargons in plain English.
  • You have higher chances of getting hired if you submit real and genuine photos with your article.
  • You have the possibility of earning between 40 to 80 cents per word or more than $800 per featured article. This rate increases exponentially if you have appropriate photos, news or interviews.

I have listed down few magazines, there are many more, where you can submit your work and earn a good income.

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