Magazine Writing 101:Things I Wish I Knew Two Years Ago

I’m often asked how I got into writing and publishing. The short answer is that I’ve always been a writer and I’ve always loved magazines. But when people ask me how they can get started in this field, the answer isn’t so simple. 

So here’s what I wish someone had told me two years ago: Writing for magazines (and other publications) is hard, but it’s also fun and rewarding in so many ways. If you’re interested in it, just start doing it! Here are some tips based on my experiences at Bitch Media over the past decade-plus:

college 101 ‍ what i wish i knew before college – YouTube
1. Learn from Experience: Gain valuable insights from experienced magazine writers who share their tips and advice.
2. Avoid Common Pitfalls: Discover the mistakes that others have made and learn how to avoid them in your writing journey.
3. Master the Craft: Hone your writing skills and develop your unique voice to stand out in the competitive magazine industry.
4. Embrace the Journey: Understand that magazine writing is a continual learning process, and each experience contributes to growth.
5. Seize Opportunities: Explore various niches and publication opportunities to expand your writing portfolio and reach new audiences.
6. Network and Connect: Build connections with fellow writers, editors, and industry professionals for collaboration and support.
7. Adapt and Evolve: Stay updated with industry trends and be adaptable in the ever-changing landscape of magazine writing.
8. Perseverance Pays Off: Keep pushing forward, even in the face of rejections, as persistence is key to success in this field.
9. Write with Passion: Infuse your writing with passion and enthusiasm to create engaging and compelling magazine articles.
10. Celebrate Your Growth: Reflect on your progress over the years, acknowledge your achievements, and celebrate milestones.

Know Your Voice

One of the most common things I hear from new writers is that they don’t know what kind of writer they are. Some people are good at writing fiction and some people are good at writing nonfiction, but some people find it difficult to distinguish between the two because both seem to require similar skills you have to be able to tell a story, after all.

It’s important for you as a writer that you know what kind of writer you are so that when you sit down with your next piece in front of you, it’s not an exercise in frustration; instead, it’s one where everything comes together naturally and easily. Here are some ways to figure out this crucial aspect:

If you’ve ever wondered what a typical day looks like for a magazine writer, take a journey through the life of a writer in our article on “Magazine Writing: A Day in the Life”. Gain insights into the challenges and joys of being a part of the magazine industry.

Find Your People.

Don’t underestimate the power of networking. Find your people and make it a point to meet them as often and as early in your career as possible. When I started, I had no idea how important this would be for my success and growth.

Now that you have a writing gig, don’t just write about what you know – find the right people to interview, network with, or collaborate with who can help broaden your horizons in new ways.

Work On Pitchable Ideas As Side Hustles

You don’t need a lot of clients to make some extra cash in your spare time. If you’re already working a day job, make it a point to work on pitchable ideas as side hustles.

Start by learning how to write effective pitches, then practice pitching them (in person and via email) to friends and family. 

Pitch those same people again this time ask for feedback about your pitch. Make sure the idea is clear, concise, and interesting enough for them not only to understand but also to want more information about it.

Next up: find strangers who are interesting in what you have to offer or know someone who can introduce you into their network all so that they can help spread the word about whatever service or product you might be offering at that time (or not). 

For example: if someone’s got an Instagram account where they post photos of their dogs all day long (which is something I hear exists), maybe they’d be interested in hiring me as their photographer? And if they do hire me, then I’ll need models! 

And guess what? They’ve been posting these great photos all along they just needed someone like me who could bring out the best qualities in them!

Want to create a business plan that stands out from the crowd? Discover the “15 Secrets of the Best Business Plans” and learn how successful entrepreneurs craft compelling and effective plans to attract investors and drive their ventures forward.

Practice Writing A One-Sentence Pitch

The one-sentence pitch is a powerful tool. It’s a great way to organize your thoughts, and it can help you get more clarity on the direction of an article or story.

Here’s how it works: Pick a topic and try writing a one-sentence pitch for it. For example, if I were interested in writing about the history of food trucks in Austin, Texas, I might write something like “Austin’s love affair with food trucks started when they began moving into downtown areas during the 1980s.” 

If you have trouble coming up with an idea for your first sentence, just start talking! Let yourself ramble on freely until you hit upon something interesting about what you’re talking about that sounds like an intriguing lead paragraph. 

This can be helpful if you’re struggling with writer’s block or don’t know where to begin an article from scratch just get those ideas out into the world so they don’t stay stuck inside your head!

Write The Kind Of Article You Want To Be Reading More Often

I know that sounds obvious, but it’s not. So many writers enter this business to write an article or book that they would like to read themselves in other words, they write what they wish they could find in their local newsstand or bookstore (or on Amazon). 

But if you’re going to spend your time writing something, why not do it with a purpose? If there’s anything I learned during my brief stint as an editor at Outside Magazine (and later as a freelancer), it was that readers love stories about people who are doing things differently and exploring outside their comfort zones whether in places like Antarctica or on bikes in Iowa.

So if you want to be paid for your work, write about subjects and places people don’t generally think about covering but always remember: The best way to blow up is by proving your content is well researched and well written!

Never Take It Personally When An Editor Says No

One of the most common criticisms I receive about my writing is that it’s too repetitive. This usually comes from editors, whose job it is to know what works and what doesn’t work. 

When they see a lot of words that say the same thing over and over again, they get worried: if you can explain something once in two paragraphs, how long will it take to explain something in your whole article?

If an editor brings this up with you (and they probably will), don’t immediately jump on their case or start defending yourself. Instead, try asking them why they think your writing is repetitive if they’re not sure themselves they might be able to tell you exactly where things are falling apart without even knowing what kind of answer would satisfy them! 

If there’s nothing wrong with the way you’re structuring your ideas, then keep doing what works for you but if there truly is some redundancy going on somewhere and at least one person has noticed it you should probably fix that before submitting anything else for publication.

Writing a business plan doesn’t have to be overwhelming. Our step-by-step guide on “How to Write a Business Plan in 9 Simple Steps” breaks down the process into manageable tasks, helping you turn your vision into a solid plan of action.

A Successful Pitch Isn’t Just A Great Idea

A successful pitch isn’t just a great idea. It’s a great story. And a great story is compelling, but also doable; timely, but also timeless, and has an angle that makes it clear why you’re the perfect person to tell it.

You can have all of these things, but without the third element, the angle won’t be enough to get you published anywhere.

Create A Spreadsheet Of Ideas And Their Statuses

Creating a spreadsheet of your ideas and their statuses is another thing that I wish I had done sooner. You’re going to have so many ideas, and it’s easy to forget one or two of them as you’re working on something else. 

This also serves as a great way for you to keep track of which blog posts are due when and what kind of topics are trending so you can use those for inspiration.

Another benefit: when someone asks me today if I have any specific writing jobs available, I can tell them exactly what types of writing gigs I’m looking for at that moment and they’ll know it’s not just an empty promise!

No One In Publishing Is Ever Too Busy To Talk To You, Even If They’re Running An Entire Magazine Or Conference

#7. No one in publishing is ever too busy to talk to you, even if they’re running an entire magazine or conference. I’ve learned this lesson over and over again since starting my career as a writer and editor. 

It seems like every time I’m introduced as someone who works in the industry, people ask me how they can get involved with what I do, and then they want to know how they can break into publishing.

People are always looking for ways to network with new writers who could help them out down the road. You never know who will be able to hire you one day, so it’s important to stay friends with everyone at all times (even those annoying co-workers). 

That doesn’t mean you have to be their best friend; just make sure that when someone introduces themselves as an aspiring writer, you say something nice about them rather than ignore them completely!

Make sure that you’re pitching to outlets interested in your topic…or at least know what kinds of things they cover.

Make Sure That You’re Pitching To Outlets Interested In Your Topic

This seems like a no-brainer, but I have wasted time and energy on pitching stories to publications that didn’t even cover the subject matter of my article.

If you’re seeking funding for your business, it’s essential to know what investors look for in a business plan. Check out our in-depth article on “How to Write a Business Plan That Investors Actually Read” to understand how to create a plan that captures investors’ attention and increases your chances of securing financing.

Know Who The Editor Is And What Their Interests Are

You can usually find this information on an outlet’s website or via email by asking them directly. Knowing this is key because it will help steer you toward articles they’ve already published, which could save you from spending valuable time researching and writing an article that might not get published anyway!

When you do get assignments, make sure you meet deadlines early, and ask for feedback when you turn them in (if needed). 

As a freelance writer, it’s important to get feedback on your work. You need to know what you’re doing right, and what needs improvement.

If you don’t get any feedback when turning in an essay or article, ask for it! Sometimes writers forget to provide comments on their work because they’re so used to being told how great it is by friends and family (and sometimes even professors). 

If this happens, remind them politely that as a professional freelancer and one who will be working with them again in the future you value receiving constructive criticism from clients as much as positive feedback.

If your client still refuses to give feedback after a few requests from yourself (or if they refuse altogether), then consider looking elsewhere for publishers who value the importance of constructive criticism and want their work produced by professionals capable of improving themselves through this process.

Keep Track Of All Your Expenses And Income From Writing Or Other Creative Work

You never know when you’ll get sick or injured and need to file a disability claim!

You never know when you’ll get sick or injured and need to file a disability claim. Keeping track of all your expenses, income, and mileage is important for several reasons:

You can’t file a disability claim if you don’t keep track of your expenses, income, and mileage.

If you’ve had an accident that wasn’t your fault (or at least partially), keeping track of your finances will help prove that it was more than just bad luck that caused the incident.

Your life is complicated enough without having to worry about whether or not someone’s going to believe that it happened! Just like every other step in this guide, make sure this one gets done right away!

Are you passionate about travel and dreaming of a career as a travel writer? Discover how magazine writing can open doors to a career in travel writing in our comprehensive guide on “Magazine Writing for a Career in Travel Writing”. Learn from seasoned writers and get valuable tips to kickstart your journey in this exciting field.


In the end, I hope these tips help you make the most of your writing career. I know how difficult it can be to get started, but once you’ve found your voice and started building up a portfolio of pitches that editors like, things will get easier. 

Most importantly: keep at it! And if all else fails? Start with a blog post about what not to do when pitching me for an article because now that would make me want to read more pitches from anyone who does so!

Further Reading

101 Things I Wish I Knew When I Got Married: Simple Lessons to Make Love Last: This book offers valuable insights and practical advice to strengthen your marriage and make it last.

103 Bits of Advice I Wish I Had Known: Discover 103 pearls of wisdom from various experts and individuals that can help you navigate life with more confidence and understanding.

How to Improve Your Writing Skills: 10 Easy Tips: Enhance your writing skills with these 10 simple and effective tips to express yourself more effectively.


What topics are covered in “101 Things I Wish I Knew When I Got Married: Simple Lessons to Make Love Last”?

The book covers various topics related to marriage, communication, trust, intimacy, and ways to strengthen the bond between partners.

Who authored “103 Bits of Advice I Wish I Had Known”?

The article was written by Kevin Kelly, an acclaimed writer and co-founder of Wired magazine.

How can I improve my writing skills?

Improving your writing skills involves practicing regularly, seeking feedback, reading extensively, and being open to learning from others’ writing.

Is “101 Things I Wish I Knew When I Got Married” available for free?

The availability of the book may vary, but it can often be accessed through online platforms or purchased through booksellers.

Are the writing tips in “How to Improve Your Writing Skills: 10 Easy Tips” suitable for beginners?

Yes, the tips provided are beginner-friendly and can be easily implemented by writers of all levels to enhance their writing abilities.