Try Writing for the Trades

Looking for a market that’ s eager to buy what you write? Try writing for the trades.

Hardware Age, Grain Magazine and Sporting Goods Business might not have the glamour of prestigious publications like Harper’s or Travel and Leisure and they don’t pay the same kind of big bucks. But trade journal checks do arrive on time, usually, and most of the publications are open to writers — two compelling reasons for freelancers to take a look.

Trade and professional journals are publications that focus on a particular occupation of industry and help readers do their jobs better. Their editors are always eager to find new writers who can give their readers industry information on a continuing basis.

You can find a wide variety of trade publications at your local library or bookstore, or you can do computer searches for trade journals. Either way, you’ll find lots of potential markets for freelance work.

Pick out a few publications in which you have some knowledge or choose some that catch your interest. Don’t contact any of them, however, until you study the magazines thoroughly either at the library, book stores or the internet to determine their market listings. Read all their advertisements and columns, opinions, letters to the editors — read every bit of copy in each publication. Determine how they use photos. Check out their guidelines to see what kind of articles the editors want. Some editors recommend that you analyze at least six months of back issues before querying about a proposed article.

Payment varies greatly among trade and professional journals. You won’t get rich writing for them, but mixing in trade journal writing with a steady flow of news releases, brochures and other nuts-and-bolts copy can give you a little change in your writing routine, while adding a considerable amount to your annual income. Trade journal bylines can also help you break into other magazines.

Just be sure you give trade journal editors the same professional courtesies expected in any market: a query letter that’s right on target for that publication. a SASE included if you send the query to the publication by U.S. mail (although many editors today look for email queries), no missed deadlines, and copy that’s clean and error free.

Editors will love you for making their jobs easier. And you’ll love the bylines and the checks you get.

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