Want to write for trade magazines?
The idea probably conjures up images of your byline in glossy, newsstand publications.
But there’s another type of publication that many freelance writers overlook, trade magazines, and the pay rate can be on par with high-profile, consumer mags.
Writers who’ve gotten in with trade magazines often find that the market is stable and can provide opportunities for regular work.
And because trade magazines cover virtually every major industry (along with some you may never even have heard of), there’s a good chance you’ll be able to find ones that focus on topics you’d like to write about.
TIP: Before pitching any of these trade magazines, make sure you study the publication and read the writer’s guidelines (when available), so you get a strong grasp of the kind of content they publish.
In many cases, you can read recent articles on the magazine’s website or request a sample copy. Some trade pubs are highly specialized, so you need to make sure your pitch is relevant.
In this post, we’re going to introduce you to 22 trade magazines that pay up to $2,000 per assignment.
How do you become a trade magazine writer?
A solid pitch to the right editor is really all you need. But there’s THREE things can help you land a trade magazine assignment (FYI, you don’t need all three):
- Industry knowledge. If you want to write for trade magazines, you’ll need to have knowledge about the industry or be able to write authoritative pieces that resonate with readers who work in the field. You past jobs, careers, education, hobbies, and interests can help you get your foot in the door.
- Relevant writing samples. If you don’t have direct experience in a specific industry, showing clips you’ve written for another client in a related field can still land you the job.
- Letter of Introduction. In some cases, the best approach to winning a gig writing for a trade pub is to send out an LOI – or Letter of Introduction – introducing yourself. This can be preferable to sending a query because trade pubs tend to be very specialized. Sometimes it’s not possible to know what kind of content the editor is looking for so showcasing your industry expertise could get your foot in the door.
TIP: Check out this article for some great tips on writing an effective LOI.
A lot of trade magazines do accept queries, and some even prefer them, so you can also try pitching a specific story idea to one of these trade magazines.
These two trade magazines are published by the American College of Physicians and are written for professionals who work in internal medicine and hospital medicine.
Articles typically cover topics relating to issues like practice management, health information technology, and clinical medicine.
Contact: Contact editor Ryan DuBosar on LinkedIn.
Big Picture covers the world of wide-format digital printing and is geared toward professionals who work as digital print providers, commercial printers, sign creators, in-house printers, and related careers.
If you’d like to get in with this pub, pitch a story related to the technology or process involved in wide-format printing. Stories about industry trends and new products are also accepted.
Contact: Email Editor-in-Chief Adrienne Palmer.
Knowledgeable about legal topics? California Lawyer is a monthly trade pub that focuses specifically on law-related news and issues that are of interest to lawyers, judges, and other legal professionals, such as legislators.
This mag targets readers in California and other west coast states, but the topics tend to be broad enough to appeal to nationwide audiences.
Articles should be well-researched. The editors specifically seek in-depth features about legal trends and profiles of lawyers who are engaged in groundbreaking work.
Rate: Pays up to $2,000 depending on the assignment.
CBA National is a publication produced by the Canadian Bar Association, and much of the content is produced by freelance writers. Articles focus on topics like practice management, client relations, and innovation.
Rate: $1 per word
Interested in writing about machinery? This monthly trade pub is written for managers, owners, and engineers who work in manufacturing. It features opinion pieces, profiles, how-to guides, and personal experience essays related to various aspects of the industry such as metal cutting, grinding tools, and operations.
Rate: Typically pays $750+ for feature articles.
This quarterly trade pub is the membership magazine for DECA, The Association of Marketing Students. It’s primarily geared toward students ages 15-19 who are interested in developing professional and leadership skills.
Article topics typically focus on marketing, business, professional development, and career training.
DECA’s editor asks writers to submit a short, one-paragraph query.
Contact: Email editor Christopher Young.
Interested in writing for the human resource industry? This pub features articles for HR professionals and executives that work at companies, large nonprofit organizations, and government agencies.
Stories usually cover topics like HR leadership, technology, talent management, employee benefits, and the like.
Contact: Email Editor-in-Chief Elizabeth Clarke.
Rate: Pay varies but is typically between $200-$1,000.
This monthly trade magazine covers topics related to sales promotion and incentivizing workplace performance through employee motivation.
Pitch corporate case studies, how-to guides, and topics that fit in with the publisher’s business travel/destination guides section.
Contact: Email Editor-in-Chief Vincent Alonzo.
Rate: $250-700 for assigned stories
Midwest Meetings is written for people who work in the meeting, convention, and event planning industry. The magazine focuses specifically on the thirteen states in the Midwest.
Pitch personal experience essays, articles featuring insider tips, and stories that include interviews with experts in the field.
TIP: This publication does NOT publish articles about specific meeting facilities.
Contact: Email editor Randy Hennen.
Rate: $.05-$0.50 per word
Knowledgeable about opera? Check out Opera News. Written for opera professionals as well as opera audiences, this mag publishes interviews, reviews on CDs, DVDs and books, news, and thought pieces.
TIP: The editors of this pub request that writers submit several published clips along with a query.
Contact: Send a message to editor F. Paul Driscoll.
Overtones is an official journal publication of the Handbell Musicians of America.
Its primary audience consists of handbell and hand chime directors, ringers, and enthusiasts, including those who perform in community or professional ensembles, churches, and educational environments.
The editors look especially for relevant feature articles and interviews. Check out the submission guidelines for specific guidance.
Contact: Email editor J.R Smith.
Feel like you can write good articles about topics relevant to the lumber industry? Pitch Pallet Enterprise. This monthly trade pub is written for people who work in the sawmill, wood processing, pallet, and remanufacturing industries.
The editor looks for articles that are technical and informative with a focus on machinery and increasing profitability.
Love pets? Pitch Pet Age. This pub is written for people who work for pet supply retailers, and it covers the entire industry.
The editors emphasize that articles should be informative but easy to read and concise. Stories should always have a pet-retail angle.
Contact: Email Editor-in-Chief Glenn Polyn.
Rate: $0.15 per word
Physicians News Network covers non-technical topics relevant to physicians with a focus on business news and the California healthcare system. Common topics include legal issues, practice management, public health, and state and national legislation.
All articles should be well-researched, and writers should provide published clips when querying.
Contact: Email publisher Sheri Carr.
Rate: Usually pays $200+
This bimonthly magazine is written for professionals in the maritime and seamanship industries.
It focuses on providing relevant industry news and informational articles on topics like tugboats and towing, licensing and training, and best practices.
Contact: Email editor Casey Conley.
Rate: $0.25 per word
This Ohio-based pub is written for professionals in a wide range of business fields that deal with commercial properties, including real estate, banking, design, architecture, law, construction, and property management industries.
Commonly published types of articles include how-to guides, articles on new products, news, and more.
Contact: Email Managing Editor Mark Watt.
Rate: Pay varies based on length.
Real Estate Magazine, or REM, is a Canadian-based trade journal for real estate agents and brokers that features news and opinions. It’s independent and not affiliated with any real estate association.
Pitch an inspirational story, exposÃ©, interview, or personal experience story.
TIP: The editors look specifically for stories that include a Canadian angle.
Contact: Send an email to Managing Editor Jim Adair.
Have knowledge about the retail industry? Check out Smart Retailer.
This magazine is geared toward independent retailers, specifically those who sell products like gifts and home decor.
Contact: Email editor Dan Brownell.
Super Lawyers, which is published by Thompson Reuters, offers readers a print magazine as well as online content.
Its target audience is legal professionals, and the editor especially seeks profiles of interesting or outstanding attorneys.
Contact: Send a message to Editor-in-Chief Erik Lundegaard on LinkedIn.
Rate: $0.50-$1.50 per word
The Fabricator is a popular trade magazine for people who work in the welding and metal fabricating industry. It features educational and technical articles as well as how-to guides designed to help readers do their jobs more efficiently.
Articles shouldn’t be promotional in nature and should leave out company and product names.
Contact: Email editor Amanda Carlson.
Rate: Individually negotiated
This trade magazine is written for people who work in the logging and lumber industry in the Northwest (particularly AK, WA, OR, ID, MT, and CA). It features articles about the evolving nature of the industry, with a special focus on profiles of loggers, and logging operations and machinery.
TimberWest also covers news, legislation, events, and products.
TIP: This is a pro-logging publication for professional loggers. The editor will not publish stories that paint the field in a negative light or treat it as if it is a “dying” industry.
Contact: Email Managing Editor Diane Mettler.
This bimonthly trade mag is written for manufacturers and distributors of wire rope, chain, and slings, their fabricators, and related hardware. It often features interviews, photo features, and technical articles that describe how to use various related manufacturing equipment.
Contact: Send a message to editor Don Tywoniw on LinkedIn.
Ready to write for trade magazines?
This list should give you a solid start. If you’re looking for trade magazines that cater to a specific industry, search engines can be a good place to start.
Use Google. Try googling “industry name” + trade journal (or use the term “trade magazine” or “trade publication”). A quick search using “healthcare” as the industry name pulled up a list of more than 30 journals.
WebWire publishes a pretty comprehensive list of trade pubs, too. You can also try searching for “industry news” related to the field you’re interested in.
Once you’ve located the journal you want to write for, you’ll want to:
- Browse the publication’s website, and carefully look over the writer’s guidelines, if they’re available.
- Study the outlet. Review the pub’s description and read through recent articles.
- Craft your customized LOI or query, and then send it off to the editor.
- Keep going!
The takeaway: There’s ample work available in the trade pub industry. Don’t overlook one of these trade magazines just because you don’t recognize its title. Trade magazines can provide solid pay, accessible editors, and the possibility for ongoing, interesting work.
Want to get paid to write for trade magazines? Let’s discuss in the comments.
Christin Nielsen is the editor of The Triangle, a twice-weekly newsletter covering local news in Virginia’s Historic Triangle.