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Writing for parenting magazines has helped beef up my freelance income for many years. Almost thirteen, to be exact, as I started pitching these types of articles when my now-teen daughter was an infant. In the past year, I’ve made money by compiling calendar events for a local magazine, helping with researching and editing projects, writing about travel, politics, health and fitness and more. It’s always interesting to see what types of articles go into an issue, and it’s a great opportunity for freelance writers to make a little extra money.
I spoke to the editor I work with at one regional parenting magazine and asked her what types of articles editors are seeking. There are “evergreen” topics that magazines run year after year but are still important. You know what I’m talking about: “Avoid Summer Brain Drain” “Get Ready for Back to School!” etc. This is your chance to find a unique angle on these topics and pitch to parenting magazines. Dig a little deeper—find something that will make an editor immediately respond to your pitch. Don’t just offer up an essay on your experience with having a baby; most magazines are looking for service articles with tips and quotes from experts and other parents.
Here are a few topics you can brainstorm with:
Welcoming a Baby. What is some practical advice to offer parents heading home with newborn? Come up with a catchy title like “Don’t Plan on Wearing Your Pre-Baby Jeans Home and Other Survival Tips for New Parents” and go from there.
Seasonal Fun and Crafts. Search for a list of fun holidays and birthdays, such as May the 4th (Star Wars Day) or March 14 (Pi Day). Pitch an article with examples of activities you could do to celebrate those days. Editors are always looking for content for things like Valentine’s Day, St. Patrick’s Day, Dr. Seuss’ birthday, Martin Luther King Jr. Day, etc. These are the exception to the “must interview sources” rule. Articles with activities, recipes and craft ideas would work fine here.
Potty Training. This is a topic that never goes out of style, but think outside of the box (of Pampers). How about something like “The Great Pull-Up Debate?” Interview parents and experts who discuss the pros and cons of using pull-up diapers versus going cold turkey with only underwear.
You get the idea. There is plenty of material out there, so start researching and get pitching. Query an editor three to four months ahead of time for regional parenting magazine editors and eight to twelve months for national publications. Once you’ve sold your first few articles, you can offer reprints to non-competing markets and continue to collect income.
Renee Roberson is freelance writer and editor whose article “Alternative Treatments for Autism” received first place honors in the magazine article category of the Writer’s Digest Annual Writing Competition in 2009.
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