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Writer's Tips

Do You Really Want to Get Published? Write for Trade Magazines!
by Mary Anne Hahn

Have you been repeatedly snubbed by consumer magazines? Do you have little to show for your research and querying efforts other than a folder of form rejection letters? If your writing dream includes earning a halfway decent to excellent income writing magazine articles, there are editors at thousands and thousands of publications worldwide who would open their doors (and their wallets) to work with you. You've probably never heard of most of them, but they have loyal readerships. They're called "trade magazines."

Trade magazines are periodicals that are published for and read by members of specific trade groups, occupations, and/or persons involved in particular types of business. From nurses to building contractors, electrical engineers to restaurant owners, there's a magazine (and sometimes several) that is produced with their interests, needs and issues in mind. Most are available by subscription only, or as a premium for membership in an organization or association. They range from award-winning glossies to modest, staple-bound publications.

And many of them would love to hear from, and work with, reliable writers. Moreover, most of them pay--some of them, very well.

But how do you get started writing for trade magazines? What qualifications do you need to write for them, what types of articles do they need, and where do you find them? Let's look at each of these questions separately.

1. Getting Started

My personal experience in writing for trade magazines came after examining my own career background. What did I know about, what jobs had I held, with what industries was I familiar? I listed everything, from my high school and college job as a supermarket cashier to my experiences as a trainer and supervisor. I then decided to focus initially on the occupation that most interested me, supervision, and began to brainstorm article ideas and search for potential markets revolved around that.

This isn't the only way to break into writing for trades, however. Are there occupations or businesses you would love to learn and write about, but have no work experience in? Do you know people who do them, or could you go through a local Chamber of Commerce or trade association chapter to meet such people? You can also conduct a search for professionals in nearly every field online, via such sites as http://www2.profnet.com or http://www.experts.com (typing "find an expert" into the Google search box will provide you with a plethora of similar sites).

Once you find your "experts," ask questions and listen. What are their work days like? What tools and skills do they use to do their job? What challenges do they face? What would make their jobs easier, faster, of higher quality, and/or more cost effective? What kinds of information, products or services would make them more successful? The answers to these questions will lead you to all sorts of possible article ideas.

2. What qualifications do you need to write for trade magazines?

While it may help immensely to have an education or background in a particular trade or industry to break into writing for its trade magazines, it's not essential. As with querying consumer magazines, showing that you have done, or can do, research on the topic, and mentioning the sources you'll tap when writing the actual article, will go a long way in piquing an editor's interest.

3. What types of articles do trade magazines carry?

Except for the fact that trade publications have a narrower focus than their consumer cousins, the types of articles they carry fall into familiar categories:
  • news items specific to the magazine's occupation or industry focus
  • products and trends
  • how-to articles
  • personal/professional experience articles (e.g., case histories, company and professional profiles, etc.)
As stated above, use your own experience as a springboard or your interviews with people in the field to generate article ideas appropriate to the magazine's readership that you are targeting.

4. Where can you find or learn about available trade magazines?

You can obtain fre^e one-year subscriptions to hundreds of different trade magazines at TradePub (http://i.nl03.net/ltr0/? _m=01.009i.2f.mfm.2f ). From "Today's Chemist at Work" to "Poultry International," from "Beverage World" to "Diesel Progress," you'll find a bountiful garden of potential markets that can keep you in writing business for years to come.

You'll also find Kendall Hanson's book, "Writing for Trade Magazines" (http://tinyurl.com/yqher) enormously helpful. In it, he includes information on many of the major publishers in the trade magazine industry, as well as many additional tips on breaking in.

Finally, just keep your eyes and ears open--trade magazines lie in waiting rooms everywhere, from doctor's offices to automobile repair shops. And don't hesitate to ask your friendly neighborhood plumber, hair stylist, CEO, salesperson or pet shop owner if they receive any magazines specific to their industries, and whether or not they have back copies they could lend to you.

While writing for "Aqua" (the pool and spa trade magazine), "Equipment Today" or "Sign Builder Illustrated" may not sound as glamorous as getting published in, say, "Glamour," you'll find these markets immensely more accommodating, their editors more accessible, and the bylines and paychecks satisfying. Plus, you can always use your clips to make the leap into better known magazines, or re-slant your trade articles for consumer publications.

No matter how you look at it, writing for trade magazines is an excellent way to get published, and get paid for your writing.

About The Author
Mary Anne Hahn publishes WriteSuccess, the free biweekly ezine that helps writers pursue *successful* writing careers. Subscribe today by visiting http://writesuccess.com.