How do I create content for magazines?

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Written By Sam Davis Ph.D.

Sticker Crypt is the internet's premier source of free advice for artists and small business owners! 

Whether you're a visual artist or writer, creating content for popular magazines is one way to break out into the public. Magazines publish visual artists of almost every medium, from paintings to caricatures, sculptures to photos. If you aspire to be an artist for a magazine, or use magazines to complement your sticker business, here are some tips on getting started.

It's real simple to get started on developing content for your favorite magazine. You can make money writing or designing for many magazines, even those that are now exclusively online. It's helpful to have a little bit of patience – but follow these tips to develop your own successful design or writing career.

Tip 1: Do Your Research On Magazines

Familiarize yourself with the kinds of artwork that appears in different magazines. For example, if your goal is a career as a photographer, then study the photographs found in magazines. Look closely at the images. What kinds of scenes are depicted? Which emotions are evoked? How are they styled?

If you're looking to be a freelance writer to supplement your income, the same advice applies. If you want to write for Oprah magazine, then read Oprah magazine and determine what successful content looks like. Reader's Digest and Rolling Stone are popular magazines too – so study them. The time you spend researching is time avoiding failure.

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Tip 2: Learn How To Write Query Letters

A respectful letter with clear writing and a great “ask” will score you a response much quicker than hastily copied spam. No editor likes to receive time-wasting emails, so be sure to make it wroth it. Give them a great example of your previous work. Connect to current events in the world. Tell them how much you love their publication.

There's a fine line between egregious flattery and a smart query letter. You want to use your query letter to establish yourself as an expert with a service that they need. Your query letter needs to stand out against the crowd.

If the editor asks for more samples of your work, you'll know that you're on the way to success. Be sure to have a great portfolio ready to go. You want photos of your art, or samples of your writing, that are clear and fit well within the magazine's scope of work. In other words, don't send a Christian magazine a sticker of Baphomet that you did for the Church of Satan.

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Tip 3: Write Or Make Art About Current Events

If magazine editors can use your work in their magazine article right away, you're goign to have more success. Timely events and art help successful writers stand out. So if you've got climate change related art right when there are climate change protests, let the magazines know! They may be able to use it in their standalone special edition.

Tip 4: Use beautiful photographs of your art to stand out

If you're an artist, you have to be able to take good pictures of your art. A great post includes great photos, and no magazine is going to accept mediocre photos of great art. So learn how, or pay someone – it's the best way.

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Tip 5: Include short stories, even if you're a visual artist

One of an artist's best tools is how they harness the written word. You don't need to have a writing career in order to be successful at getting published in magazines, but you do need to have basic writing skills. Your art is going to be more successful in a magazine article, if it's accompanied by a well written meaningful caption.

Tip 6: Continue content marketing and building your brand

You don't have to be a seasoned artist when trying to break into magazines. Even if you're just starting out, building an online portfolio is one way to show off your work. If you spend enough time working on your own brand, soon enough, a magazine will come to you with a content request. Not the other way around.

if you are unsure about how to write captions for your art, you can get started by writing a blog post. A well written blog post about your art is going to give you the experience necessary to share your art with the magazine. If you still have no confidence, feel free to hire an article writer or a freelance writer to do the job for you.

Photo by Jess Bailey Designs on Pexels

Tip 7: Use Your Blog Post Platform To Experiment

A magazine article is another word for fancy blog post. Write a few full articles on your website for your small business to get a feel for what ideas might work – and which ideas to pass on. A magazine article is going to pop for you if you have enough experience writing in general to make your art stand out.

You can also experiment with galleries on your blog or website. A few well placed photos with minimal captions might tell a great non fiction story about your journey as an artist.

Tip 8: Know Your Target Audience

Knowing your audience is important, because the readers of Reader's Digest will be different from the readers of National Geographic. Your art may fit in both places, but chances are that you'll need to frame the art differently depending on the publication. For a local newspaper, the story may be in your artist's journey. For Nat Geo, the storytelling is probably in your subject matter or cultural relevance.

Related to this, picking the correct publication is key. You can have the best art in the world, but if it's irrelevant to the publication you try to pitch, they're just not going to run it in an article. Magazines rely on relevant content to keep their readers purchasing.

Do I need to learn English to publish my art in a magazine?

Not necessarily. Learning English is a great idea if you want to share your art with English speaking countries, but you can always pay friends a little bit of money to write your pitch to the editor.

Can I make more money writing than making art?

In magazines? Probably. Unless you're a really popular artist, if you're looking for some cash, freelance writing is the better way to go. But getting your art published in magazines isn't that hard. Getting it on the front cover may be harder. In the end, a magazine just wants interesting content: so write it, illustrate it, and send it to the editor. The worst they'll say is no, and your life will not end.

How do I get started?

Some of the best advice that I've ever gotten about publishing anything is to just do it. Future you depends on what past you does, so if you pick a goal and then spend a few hours a week working towards it, you're sure to find success. All of the tips and advice in the world won't replace good old fashioned hard work.

In the end, getting published in magazines is a quantity game. If you pitch the right editor, or pitch enough of them, chances are, they'll give you a shot. Print media is declining, and they want to engage the reader with new and interesting content. So if you're to the point and make a great connection with the editor, they may make room in their business for you. Wow them with your visual stories, and you'll be able to make it happen.

If you're still not sure, just talk to your friends and family. Reach out to a freelance writer or artist and ask them about anything: money, their favorite editors and publications, how many times they've made the cover of something. Share your ideas and ask for feedback. Most people love to talk about themselves and mentor a person new to the business.

In conclusion…

We hope that these tips help you move your idea into reality with the right publication or editor. Have you managed to get your art business published in a magazine? Share your success!

Want even more intel?

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