A Great Source of Hidden Writing Gigs Revealed

Carol Tice

Magazines are Often IntertwinedWhen writers think about pitching magazines, many tend to just think about well-known newsstand magazines. But there are a lot of hidden writing opportunities at magazines and other periodicals.

I first got exposed to this hidden world when I got an opportunity to write $1-a-word advertorials that went in a trade publication I was working for as a staff writer. It was news to me that I could write those, too! That became a nice little side income for several years.

Over the years, I’ve discovered many national magazines are merely the best-known flagship of a larger enterprise. Many publications sell annual guidebooks, subscriber-only bonus issues, or they put out books of lists that may need freelance articles.

Some magazines don’t just have the flagship pub — they have additional magazines that aren’t as well known. Entrepreneur, for example, also publishes a newsstand-only quarterly, Entrepreneur StartUps!. And the company also publishes business books. They buy online-exclusive articles and have a blog, too. I’ve written for all of those except the books arm, adding many thousands of dollars in revenue beyond what I would have earned if I’d just stuck to the main magazine.

Some publications have college editions that include special content for students. For instance, some years back, I wrote an article for a college edition of the Wall Street Journal. AARP has its magazine, but also a newsprint bulletin.

Regional magazines may be owned by a corporate parent that publishes similar magazines in other markets, to which your article might possibly be re-spun and resold for an additional fee. For instance, Tiger Oak, for whom I’ve written at Seattle Business (which led to writing for sister-pub Seattle Magazine), also publishes five bride magazines in different markets, and eight regionals in the meeting-and-events niche. Get in the door with one of those, and that could allow you to rework and re-source stories to quickly resell them to sister books that come out in other cities.

In this age of consolidation, many publications are part of a publishing family. Conde Nast, for instance, has about 30 magazine and online properties, and several trade publications as well. Once you’ve written for one book in a family, it’s often easier to get a warm referral to an editor at another.

After I wrote as a staffer for one trade pub that covered a niche in retailing, and later freelanced regularly for a sister pub in another retail niche. The editor there knew my name and the awards I’d won during my tenure, and was thrilled to have me write for them, too.

When you’ve scored an assignment from a publication, don’t sit back and think “I’ve arrived!” Instead, think of it as a starting point in your relationship with that organization.

Once you’re in, start looking around and see if you can discover other pieces to their little publishing kingdom. Ask your current editor about the organization’s other writing needs. You may discover lucrative new writing opportunities. You’ll have a leg-up on getting assignments, and usually, these more hidden parts of the beast get fewer pitches, upping your odds of success.

Know any other hidden writing markets? Feel free to leave a comment and let me know.

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Photo via Flickr user House of Sims

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