How to Write a Magazine Article? 12 Golden Rules
Although the number of magazines is shrinking in the digital age, many magazines have moved online. Many magazines created by online magazine maker are still popular, and authors enjoy fame and respect. That’s why, for many freelance writers, writing articles in magazines is often a career goal – because the pay can be ten times more per word than writing articles or texts for the local newspaper.
Writing magazine articles requires a different skill set than writing blog posts, screenplays, or advertisements. What’s more, as a magazine writer, more than in any other industry, you need to specialize to succeed. You write articles about history differently, sports differently, and sports history in a different way still.
A talent for writing, a love of meticulous research, and flexibility in creating texts are vital skills you need to master. Therefore, many people are interested in creating and publishing their own magazine need to master this specific style and learn how to write a magazine article.
What is a magazine article?
What is a magazine?
A magazine is a publication that is a collection of articles that appears regularly. The magazine articles can be about any topic, as well as topics that interest a specific group, such as sports fans, music fans, or board game enthusiasts.
A magazine can be published weekly, monthly, bimonthly, or only a few times a year. Most magazines are published once a week or once a month. Most magazine articles do not have a list of sources and are written by regular magazine editors and writers, rarely freelance writers.
Most magazine articles are easy to read and don’t take too long to read. They are often illustrated with photos or other images, and are written with simple but remarkable fonts. Today, magazines are increasingly being replaced by websites, but there are still many magazines on various topics.
What is a magazine article?
A magazine article is a specific text that can be found in a magazine or newspaper. It can be a report, a profile of an important person, an opinion piece, a discussion of a topic or a personal essay. Depending on the topic, a magazine article is usually 1,000 to 5,000 words long.
The magazine usually employs a group of editors who come up with a theme for each issue and relevant article ideas. This way, all the articles and features in the issue will have something in common. A sports magazine might talk about the start of a new season, a political magazine about an upcoming election, and a Valentine’s Day issue might be about romance.
How the format of a magazine article differs from that of a newspaper or other articles? In a newspaper that comes out every day, put the most important parts of the story first. Newspaper articles are usually read once and aren’t supposed to influence anyone. It has to be news, something you want to read.
On the other hand, a good magazine article should often start with a mystery, a question, or a situation that makes the reader want to read on. Daily newspaper articles should be unbiased descriptions of what happened, while magazine articles, often subjective, can cover a particular topic from a certain angle. To learn how to write a magazine article, you need to know what the magazine is about and how to appeal to its readers.
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Publuu’s online magazine example
View more online magazine examples
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Types and examples of magazine articles
Magazine editors categorize articles by type and often mention them in publication’s submission guidelines, so knowing these types by name will help you communicate with the editor. These are: First Person Article, Opinion Piece, Information or Service Piece, Personality Profile, and Think Piece. Many news articles, how-to articles, and reviews can also be found in magazines, but they are slightly different, and many of these have moved online, to digital magazines. Articles can also feature essays or humor pieces.
First Person Article
First-person magazine articles are written in the first person because they are based on personal experience. Depending on their length and newsworthiness, they can be sold as feature articles or essays. They are frequently personal accounts, especially interesting if they are written by a well-known magazine writer or celebrity. Typically, the purpose of such an article is stated in the first line or paragraph to hook the magazine’s target audience, such as “I voted for this politician, and now I regret my life choices.” When you write a magazine article like this one, you should present an unpopular or overlooked point of view from a fresh perspective.
This kind of magazine writing piece or opinion essay is less personal than the First-Person Article, but it still requires a narrow focus on a specific topic. The reader’s main question is, “Why are you qualified to render an opinion?” Everyone has an opinion, but why should anyone read yours?
If you’re an expert on this subject, let the reader know right away. Don’t criticize music trends if you’re not a musician! Demonstrate your knowledge, and support your opinion with up-to-date information and credentials.
An informational or service piece expands the reader’s understanding of a particular subject. This can be a guide, a list of important issues. You can either be the expert or interview one. These are extremely pertinent to a specific industry. In a sports magazine article, you can explain a complete history of a sports team and its roster for the upcoming season.
You can expect some in-depth knowledge if the article title contains the phrases like Myths about or Secrets of. Explain everything you know: magazine journalism is different than being a freelance writer in that you should have some industry knowledge already.
This type of magazine article can present a silhouette of an important or relevant person – a politician, a political activist, a sports legend… If you’re writing for a video game magazine you can showcase a famous game designer or even an entire article can be about a game character like Lara Croft or Guybrush Threepwood, if the fictional character is detailed enough! Explain why readers will find this person interesting or noteworthy.
Written in an investigative tone, the think piece frequently shows the downside or less popular ideas of a popular industry aspect. This magazine article could also explain why something is popular or why a political party lost elections. A think piece is more in-depth than most feature articles and necessitates credibility. Confirm your thesis by interviewing analysts and experts. This type of article can be also found in zines, self-published magazines in small circulation, which often focus on niche hobbies, counterculture groups, or subcultures. If you would like to expend your knowledge about interviewing, make sure to check our guide on how to write an interview article.
How to start a magazine article?
Most creative writing professionals would agree that the best way to start writing a magazine article is with a strong opening sentence. A feature article must draw the attention of your target audience, and grab them from the go.
You can start by asking the reader a question which you will answer in the text of the article – for instance “Did you know that most users of Windows never use 80% of their functions – and that’s a good thing?”. In the content of your magazine articles you will be able to answer this question.
Another example of a good magazine article beginning is storytelling – human brains are fascinated by stories. Starting your example with “20 years ago no one in the industry knew what a genitine was, but now their inventor is one of the most influential people” can draw attention and spike up curiosity.
A great example is also a shocking quote – a compelling idea that goes against the grain is sure to capture the reader’s attention.
Most creative magazine article ideas
Even the most experienced journalists can often be looking for ideas for great articles. How to write a magazine article if you don’t have the slightest idea? Here are some of our suggestions:
Take a look at your specialty. If you’re a freelance writer, it’s a good idea to write about what you know. Delve into a topic thoroughly, and you’ll eventually find your niche and you might move from freelance writing jobs to magazine writing! Why? Having a writing specialty will make magazine editors think of you when story ideas in that genre come up.
Check out what’s trending. When browsing popular stories on social networks, many freelancers choose to write about current events. Lists of popular articles can help you understand what to focus your efforts on. Keep in mind that an article for national magazines needs to be well researched, and what’s trending now may change before the magazine finally comes out.
Reach out to the classics. Nostalgia always sells well. You can go back to books or movies that people remember from their youth or, for example, summarize the last year. Lists and numbers always look good!
12 rules on how to write great magazine articles
1. Write what you know about
If your articles are really fascinating and you know what you are writing about, you have a better chance of getting published, whether in a local newspaper or in a major magazine. Writing requires researching your chosen issue thoroughly. Identify perspectives that have not been explored before – describe something from the perspective of a woman, a minority, or a worker.
2. Research how you should write
Check the writing style requirements or guidelines of the magazines to which you want to submit your work. Each magazine has its own set of guidelines on what topics, manner and tone to use. Check out Strunk and White Elements of Style for tips on writing styles, as this is what many magazines draw from.
3. Remember to be flexible
One of the most valuable writing talents a journalist can possess is flexibility. You may find that you discover completely new facts while writing a magazine article and completely change your approach. Maybe you’ll change your mind 180 degrees and instead of attacking someone, you’ll defend them – anything to attract attention.
4. Make connections and meet people
Networking is important in any business, especially for freelance writers who want to make a jump to magazine writing. Editors regularly quit one magazine to work for another. Therefore, remember to know the people first and foremost than the magazine they work for.
5. Prepare a query letter
A query letter tells the editors why your magazine article is important, whether you think someone will want to read it and why you feel obligated to write it. Add to it a text sample and some information about yourself as a writer. Even a local magazine might not be aware of who you are, after all.
6. Prepare an outline
Always before writing a text have an outline that you can use when composing your articles. It must contain the important ideas, the content of the article body and the summary, the points you will include in it. You will find that it is easier to fill such a framework with your own content.
7. Meet the experts
You need to know pundits in your industry. There are several methods of locating experts, from networking to calling organizations or agencies in your field of interest. If you want to meet a police officer, call the police station and ask if someone could talk to a journalist – many people are tempted if you promise them a feature article.
8. Talk to experts
Once you get a contact for an expert, do your best to make the expert look as good as possible. The more prominent the expert, the better your text. Make a list of questions in advance and compare it with the outline to make sure you don’t forget anything. Remember to accurately describe your expert’s achievements and personal data.
9. Create a memorable title
This step can occur at any point in the process of writing an article for a magazine. Sometimes the whole article starts with a good title! However, there is nothing wrong with waiting until the article is finished before coming up with a title. The most important thing is that the title is catchy – editors-in-chief love that!
10. To write, you have to read
You never know where you will come across an inspiring text. It’s your duty as a good writer to read everything that falls into your hands, whether it’s articles on the front pages of major publications or small blog posts. Learn about the various issues that may be useful to your magazine writing skills.
11. Add a strong ending
End with a strong concluding remark that informs or elaborates on the theme of your piece. The last paragraph should make the reader satisfied, but also curious about the future progress of the issue. He must wonder “what’s next?” and answer the important questions himself.
12. Don’t give up
Writers are rejected hundreds of times, especially when they are initially learning how to create articles for magazines. However, even a seasoned freelance writer and professional journalist can get rejected. The most successful authors simply keep writing – being rejected is part of magazine writing. Freelance writing is a good school of writing career – including coping with rejection.
Now you know how to write a magazine article that will be engaging and interesting. Despite the digitalization of the market, writing magazine articles still offers many possibilities to a freelance writer or a seasoned professional. The market of press and magazines is evolving fast, but the basic principles of journalistic integrity stay the same!
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