Landing a regular magazine column or becoming a contributor to a website doesn’t happen every day, however it is not impossible.
Some people are invited to write columns in magazines however this is very rare. It is usually down to hard work and persistence that they have achieved this. There are a number of things you can do to help make this dream a reality.
If there is a specific magazine or website that you want to become a columnist or contributor for, then firstly make sure you read it. Study the magazine or website in detail, read the feature articles, and get a feel for its audience. Make sure that the audience of the magazine is also your target audience.
Familiarise yourself with the magazine’s current columnists and ask yourself what expertise do they have? How often do they write for the publication? What do they write about? What topics could you write about that aren’t currently being covered?
Doing this research, will give you a true understanding of the magazine or website, what their audience is reading and what kind of content you could provide to them.
Start with an article
Try to write a couple of articles for the magazine before you pitch the idea of a column. If the editor is familiar with your work then this won’t seem like such a bazaar idea.
Writing for the magazine or website beforehand will make you familiar with their deadlines, editorial suggestions, and tone of voice. All of this will help when you suggest writing a column for them.
Pitching a column
Pitching a magazine column is no different to the usual pitch to a journalist using a press release. If you are sending an email pitch, then we would advise the following:
- Write an exciting email subject header. Journalists are always looking for great content ideas so label your email with ‘story idea’ or ‘pitch’ and they are more likely to open it.
- Summarise your story in the subject header. This is your opportunity to sell the idea so the journalist won’t ignore your email.
- Don’t do introductions. Simply let the interesting content speak for itself. You can do introductions at the end of the email.
- Summarise your column idea in the first line of your pitch.
- Write your email using an informal, conversational style.
- Don’t include attachments as many journalists will not open them. Give them the option to contact you for more information.
- If you have good images then offer these to the journalist. You can include in your pitch as a URL link but we would advise against sending large image files.
Make sure that you come to the table with plenty of ideas for your column. A commissioning editor will want to make sure you have enough topics to keep people interested in your column over a number of issues or a period of time.
Set up meetings with journalists
Sometimes it is easier to chat through an idea with an editor face-to-face rather than sending a ‘cold’ email. As you already know, getting an editor to commit to a lunch or coffee meeting can be very difficult but it is always worth a try!
Now for the hard work
So now it is time for you to go forth and conquer. Identify some publications or websites that you would like to have a column in. Research what they are writing about and what topics are missing. What can you offer them that no one else can? The more you can highlight that you are the only person who can create that content for them, the better chance you’ll have at being successful and landing a magazine column.
If you would like further advice or have a question about the above topic then please get in touch.