Or Dog’s World. Or Hair Today. Or any other number of specialist titles which make up the bulk of publications you find at major newsagents, in the areas of cars, computing, horses, classical music, crafts, genealogy, religion, gardening and the rest.
Wrong. You can.
I often encourage students and new writers to consider these specialist markets because they’re far more accessible, less likely to be targeted by established journalists, and will be more welcoming to approaches from newbies. (I’ve outlined some in my UK / Ireland Markets page.)
“But I don’t know a thing about bass guitar / cake decorating / horseriding!”
Perhaps not. Neither do I. But what if you were to set yourself a goal to come up with an idea for every specialist magazine you could lay your hands on – irrespective of whether or not you felt you knew something about its subject matter?
Someone is already doing this. He’s a journalist, writing semi-anonymously, and he’s cataloguing his efforts to propose article ideas to every publication in the Writers’ and Artists’ Yearbook at his witty and informative blog, Pitching the World. Why not take a leaf out of his book?
One possible technique is to take what you do know and try to tailor ideas based on that subject to specialist magazines.
I know a bit about nutrition. I normally write for health magazines, women’s magazines, parenting magazines, and health sections of papers, but what if I were to push myself to come up with ideas for less general titles?
Let’s take a dog journal. Perhaps nutrition for dogs? Sounds like a potential subject, but too broad in itself. Something more specific, then. How about a piece on nutrition for pregnant bitches? Or on the changes in dogs’ nutritional needs according to the seasons? Or great / bad foods for dogs? Or diet for dogs who are poorly or inactive? Or weight-loss diets for overweight / spoiled dogs? Or ‘detox’ for dogs? Or…
You get the picture. Just by picking your subject, applying it to a specific market, and a bit of brainstorming, perhaps adapting one idea to generate or inspire the next, you can come up with a chain of potential features. In all these cases, a case study and a few quotes from a few vets and bingo, you’ve got an article. You don’t need to know anything much about dogs. You’ll be speaking to people who know plenty.
And, with a bit of obvious tweaking, all those ideas would possibly work for a horse magazine, a cat magazine… And so on.
And a yachting magazine? How about an article advising on the food you should take on a yachting trip? Or a piece on nutrition for people preparing for a yachting race?
A hair magazine? ‘Ten Top Foods for Lustrous Locks’?
And so on.
As I say in my article Finding Markets, begin to cultivate the idea that every publication is a potential outlet for your work.
It’s a mistake, then, to rule out any market. And I think it’s a big one, which too many beginners make.
I’ll be writing more about generating ideas shortly, but in the meantime, I’d advise you approach those shelves at your local newsagent which you normally dismiss, and begin to browse closely. Very closely.
Found this Mistake useful? You might also like my new ebook 50 Mistakes Beginner Writers Make (Kindle edition), priced £1.99 / $2.99.
Fantastic advice and so true. I'm guilty of getting myself into the 'can't do' mindset and I must STOP IT NOW!!
I'm off to find some writing ideas in a couple of magazines whose subjects I know little about!
Inspirational – and useful – advice there Alex. Thanks for the link, too.
Ha, did you find any, Julie?
Welcome, Pitchy – nice to have you about!
This is really good advice.
A lot of us are walking away from the opportunity to use our writing skills in different arenas.
Thanks for the reminder.
This is brilliant advice. I am currently in a library with a disapointing seletion of magazines. Once I'm done here I will head back to my newsagents and look a fresh.
This is great advice and thanks for writing it. I sometimes get myself into a negative mindset and feel that I can't write for certain markets. Now I just need to scrape the money together to buy multiple copies of every magazine in WHSmith.
[…] magazines which people do want to read – many examples of which I gave in Mistake No. 12: “I can’t write for Yachting Monthly!” – are the ones on the shelves, which people buy, and which […]