11 Things They Don’t Tell You About Magazine Writing

I’ve always wanted to be a magazine writer. I love magazines, and I think it would be fun to write for one. But when I started looking into the job market and researching what it takes to become a full-time magazine writer, I was surprised by how difficult the field is and how few jobs exist for people who want to get started in this industry. 

If you’re interested in becoming a magazine writer yourself, here’s what you need to know about getting your foot in the door:

Things they don’t tell you about what journal editors want
1. The reality of magazine writing may differ from romanticized notions.
2. Finding success in magazine writing requires persistence and hard work.
3. Building a strong support system is essential for navigating the industry.
4. Rejection is a common part of the journey, but it shouldn’t deter you.
5. Understanding the target audience is crucial for crafting compelling articles.
6. Effective time management is necessary to meet tight deadlines.
7. Developing a unique voice and style sets you apart from other writers.
8. Networking with industry professionals can open up opportunities.
9. Continuous learning and honing your craft are vital for growth.
10. Pitching your ideas effectively increases the chances of getting published.
11. Embrace the challenges and embrace the journey of magazine writing.

It’s All About Networking

So I’m going to start by saying this is a skill you should develop. You must become a good networker so that when an opportunity comes up, you can capitalize on it. A big part of being a good networker is knowing how to ask for things that will help your career and/or business.

When I first started writing, I didn’t have much experience networking so when I had the opportunity to get my work published in top magazines, I didn’t know how to ask for it or what skills were needed for those jobs (because of this lack of knowledge), I didn’t get those jobs. 

After experiencing failure from not knowing how to network properly, I decided it was time for me to learn about how networking works and how people acquire new clients as well as careers through networking activities like making connections at conferences

Join groups online such as LinkedIn groups where professionals share their expertise and insights so they can all grow together through mutual support systems like these!

But enough about me let’s talk about YOU!

Building a successful career in magazine writing requires dedication and hard work. Check out our insightful article on Magazine Writing: A Day in the Life to get a glimpse into the daily routines of successful magazine writers.

If You Don’t Have Experience, You May End Up Working For Free

As a newbie, it’s tough to get paid assignments without any clips. Even if you’re a writer who can churn out 500 words in five minutes and at least sounds like they know what they’re talking about over the phone, there are still plenty of publications that will demand your services before they’ll even consider paying you. 

And if they do agree to pay? Well, don’t count on it happening right away—the phrase “exposure” gets thrown around liberally as an excuse to pay nothing or next-to-nothing for content that takes time and effort.

The best thing to do is just accept this fact upfront: You will probably be working for free for quite some time before getting paid for anything at all; once you’ve been in the game long enough (or landed some high-profile work), then hopefully things will change in your favor (and we wish them luck). 

The key is not entering into writing with completely unrealistic expectations about how much money you’ll make off of each piece of content; instead, focus on doing good work and having fun while doing it!

You’ll Be Expected To Come Up With Ideas

That’s right, your editor won’t have time to come up with all the ideas for the magazine. They will expect you to pitch ideas, and then they’ll expect you to get those ideas approved by someone more senior than them (which will probably be a bunch of people). 

The best part? You’ll also need to come up with a list of articles that are relevant/newsworthy for your readers.

Want to see your work published in magazines? Learn the secrets to successful submissions in our comprehensive guide on Magazine Writing: How to Get Published, and increase your chances of becoming a published magazine writer.

You’ll Be Expected To Do Background Research

There’s no way around it: you’ll be expected to do background research. It’s not just about knowing how to find information, but also organizing the information you’ve found into a coherent package that makes sense for your readers. 

You’ll need to know your subject matter well enough that you can make recommendations based on experience (rather than conjecture). And above all else, you’ll need to know who your audience is and what they want from their magazine reading experience.

It’s Hard To Get A Journalism Degree In College

The first thing you should know is that getting a journalism degree can be difficult. While it’s possible to get into a master’s program at a top-tier university, most of these programs are very expensive and require you to have an undergraduate degree in something else. 

In addition, many universities do not offer degrees in journalism at all: they only offer them as minors or certificates.

If you’re interested in pursuing this career path but don’t want to spend tens of thousands of dollars on college tuition, consider looking for smaller schools with good reputations for their journalism departments. 

You may also want to look into online or distance learning programs; some companies will pay for your tuition if they see potential skills overlap between your current industry background and the job description requirements.

You Can Earn More Than $50,000 A Year If You Get Enough Experience

You can earn more than $50,000 a year if you get enough experience. That’s the good news. The bad news is that salaries are lower in most places than they are in New York and Los Angeles.

Salaries also depend on your experience and where you live. Magazine writers with less than five years of experience make about $30,000 per year, while those with eight or more years make about double that number and this only applies to writers who have a journalism degree from an accredited school!

If you do want to become a magazine writer and live outside of New York City or Los Angeles (where salaries tend to be higher), start building up your portfolio now by writing for free on sites OR literary You’ll Work On Your Schedule (And Off-Hours).

You’ll be working on your schedule. You may have to write a story about a celebrity, or about an event that’s happening on the other side of the world, and you don’t have much time. That means you must be able to work independently and quickly to meet deadlines.

You can expect long hours at times, especially during busy seasons (holidays and special events), but even when things are slow you won’t get much downtime between stories because there will always be something new coming up right behind what just happened.

The good news is that if this sounds like something that would bring out your inner adrenaline junkie, then magazine writing could be an amazing job for you!

Breaking into the freelance magazine writing market can be challenging. Get started on the right foot by reading our step-by-step guide on How to Break into Freelance Magazine Writing and pave your way to a rewarding writing career.

You May Need To Live In New York Or Los Angeles To Succeed In The Magazine Field

The good news is that there are cities besides New York and Los Angeles where you can find magazine jobs. Chicago and San Francisco also have a strong magazine presence, as do Washington D.C., Boston, Denver, Philadelphia, and Miami to name just a few.

The bad news is: There are more writers in New York and Los Angeles than in any other city. The competition for writing jobs is fierce so if you’re not living on one of those coasts (or close by), your chances of getting hired by a national publication may be slim at best.

It’s Not All About Writing Articles, Either

You’ll also work with a team to create, edit, and design the magazine. This means that if you’re not a writer by trade (the kind of person who has been writing for years or decades), you could be editing and designing at the same time as writing.

One thing they don’t tell you is that there’s more than one way to write an article. You can write it yourself or collaborate with other writers on the topic or both! If someone else wrote an article about something similar, ask them if they’d be interested in collaborating on yours. 

The more people who know about your subject matter and have experience in your industry, the better off your article will be when it’s published.

There Are Some Great Programs Out There That Offer Training To Aspiring Journalists

For example, the University of Missouri offers a Master of Arts in Journalism degree with a concentration in Magazine Writing. Students can expect to spend their first year taking foundational courses like “The American News Media,” “Media Law and Ethics,” and “Magazine Writing: Process and Craft.” 

In the second year, students choose one of three specializations: Magazine Reporting & Writing; Graphic Design & Layout; or Magazine Editing & Production.

Those who enroll at Emerson College will learn how to write for different magazines within the context of their Bachelor’s Program in Magazine Writing & Editing. 

At Northwestern University, you can earn your Bachelor’s Degree in Professional Studies (BPS) with a specialization in magazine writing while also exploring other forms of media such as television news or advertising campaigns through elective courses like “Scriptwriting for TV News,” “Advertising Campaigns: 

Planning Concepts and Execution” or even an internship at a major publication like The New York Times Magazine!

If you’re interested in becoming a magazine writer, it’s best to specialize in one area, such as food or fashion.

If you’re interested in becoming a magazine writer, it’s best to specialize in one area, such as food or fashion. It will help you get more opportunities, build a reputation and gain experience. You’ll also get more jobs, which means more money!

Dreaming of being a contributor for Reader’s Digest? Discover 10 hidden secrets in our article on 10 Secrets to Becoming a Monthly Reader’s Digest Contributor, and increase your chances of becoming a recognized writer in this prestigious magazine.

Journalism Is A Competitive Industry That Requires Commitment And Determination

Commitment to the craft of journalism is paramount. You’ll need it to learn how to write well, how to report a story, how to edit your work, and how to be a team player on larger projects.

Determination is also essential because it takes time and sometimes more than you think you have to get hired at a magazine or newspaper, let alone move up in rank and salary within an organization. 

It’s easy for good writers with no experience (or even bad ones) who are willing to forgo some pay or prestige for the chance of getting published now; after all, your social media followers will tell you that these days everyone has an opinion about everything and anything under the sun! 

But if you want real success as a journalist the kind where you’re making six figures annually by your early thirties with plenty of options available when it comes time for promotions at work it will take commitment and determination beyond what most people think they’re capable of having due simply because they don’t understand what being committed means: 

Spent countless hours working through rejections from editors who aren’t interested in hiring someone like me based on my age alone (I’m 32), and my lack of experience (I’ve only been freelancing full-time since March 2018).

Other factors which should have nothing whatsoever do with whether or not my writing ability meets standards established by our industry leaders such as The New York Times Magazine.”

Magazine writers should have good grammar, spelling, and punctuation skills because they write from scratch without an editor looking over their shoulder every step of the way!

This is a big one and often overlooked. You don’t have an editor to look over your shoulder while you write, so good grammar, spelling, and punctuation skills will help ensure that your copy is coherent, clear, and easy to read.

Unlike some other forms of writing (like journalism or fiction), where it’s possible to get by with a certain lack of these skills to make up for them with creativity and imagination magazine articles must be able to stand on their own merits as well as being grammatically correct. 

Your reader isn’t going to be impressed by how creative or clever you can be if they have difficulty understanding what it is that you’re trying to say!

To Succeed As A Magazine Writer, You Need Determination And Excellent Grammar Skills

Yes, you heard me right: good writing is an essential part of the job but it’s nowhere near all that matters. You’ll also need to be able to write quickly on deadline (with no time for research or revisions), under pressure from editors who want your copy in their inboxes by 4 pm. 

And then there are those occasions when even the best writers fail at meeting the strictest deadlines; when this happens to me and it happens more often than I’d like the only thing that keeps me going is my ability to somehow work through problems and churn out great copy anyway. 

This sounds simple enough, but it does require an incredible amount of self-discipline and motivation, as well as an ability to think quickly on one’s feet to come up with ideas on demand!

Improve your magazine writing skills with our expert tips! Check out 15 Tips for Better Magazine Writing to elevate your writing game and create compelling articles that captivate readers and editors alike.


To be a magazine writer, you need to be willing to do research and get up-to-date information on topics that interest you. The best way to learn about magazine writing is by reading magazines, especially those in your area of expertise. 

By staying up on trends and keeping track of what others are writing about, it becomes easier for you to come up with ideas when approaching editors with pitches or when starting on an assignment of your own.

Further Reading

Learn English Teens – Writing a Magazine Article Short Description: Enhance your magazine writing skills with this comprehensive guide from Learn English Teens by the British Council.

MasterClass – How to Write Articles for Magazines Short Description: Master the art of writing articles for magazines with expert advice and insights from MasterClass.

The Adventurous Writer – 10 Ways to Write Better Articles for Magazines Short Description: Unleash your creativity and improve your magazine writing with these 10 valuable tips from The Adventurous Writer.


How can I improve my magazine writing skills?

Improving your magazine writing skills can be achieved through practice, reading extensively, and seeking feedback from peers and editors. Consider taking writing courses or workshops to further enhance your skills.

What are the essential elements of a compelling magazine article?

A compelling magazine article should have a strong headline, a captivating introduction, well-structured body paragraphs, and a memorable conclusion. Including relevant quotes, statistics, and anecdotes can also enhance the article’s impact.

How can I get my magazine articles published?

To get your magazine articles published, research potential magazines that align with your writing style and target audience. Tailor your article submissions to meet the publication’s guidelines and consider building relationships with editors.

What is the best way to approach writing articles for different magazine genres?

Adapting your writing style to different magazine genres requires understanding the specific audience and tone of each publication. Study the magazine’s previous articles and familiarize yourself with their style to align your writing accordingly.

How can I make my magazine articles stand out to editors?

To make your magazine articles stand out to editors, focus on unique angles, compelling storytelling, and well-researched content. Present your ideas concisely and demonstrate a strong understanding of the magazine’s readership and preferences.