Freelance Journalism for magazines or newspapers?

By Hiba Naeem

So, you have decided to work as a freelance journalist but do not know where to start? Choosing between a newspaper and a magazine can be tricky, especially if you are unsure where the two distinct media stand for your career growth. Today we deep dive into the pros and cons to assist you with that choice.

Challenges and rewards for freelance writers

Perhaps, one of the biggest perks of writing for a magazine is that one can contribute thoughtful and creative pieces. If you are both passionate about a topic and a prolific writer, then magazine features will sit just right with you. It is particularly rewarding if you have an attention-grabbing piece that you think will fit right with the magazine’s vibe. In that case, researching well in advance of your pitch greatly increases your chances to score a place and to deliver quality content that you are interested in or love to write about. However, what makes this bit challenging, writing thoughtful pieces is much more time consuming and scrupulous than writing a piece for a newspaper. In contrast, newspapers have what is considered ‘soft news’ where they usually cover topics like food, health, gardening, health and important people or celebrities. Finding your niche in these areas can be just as rewarding and fun at the same time. The limitation here is that compared to magazines, newspapers pay relatively less. On the plus side, and this is where we assist and boost your earnings, you can resell your piece with minimal stress through The Story Market. Through our platform, you can syndicate your articles and reach out to the most prestigious publications without worrying about the licensing and transactional processes. Moreover, newspapers compensate for the less pay through the quantity of content that they seek. Published daily or weekly, unlike magazines, newspapers seek more stories as they have more content to fill and regularly need new voices.

Freelance Journalism for magazines or newspapers?

Tips for overcoming these challenges

Newspapers often target local, national, or international audience. For local newspapers, community engagement is crucial as they can provide a great platform for newcomers. Sometimes editors are also willing to publish longer pieces up to 4-to-6-week series for stories that are of interest to you while working for a cause, simultaneously. Soft news sections in the newspapers are often found in the mid-week issue too: food, gardening, culture, finance, health & more. It is also important that before deciding upon a company to work with, it is recommended that one searches the paper profile thoroughly to ensure that the paper’s aim matches those of the journalist too. As a beginner, go through back issues, writer’s and submission guidelines as it can give a clearer picture of what is expected from a contributor. With ever-expanding digital media, looking out for websites (magazine and newspapers) and e-platforms is immensely useful, too. Even starting small with an article or a blog can bring earnings if the content attracts more traffic and audience engagement. Finally, be on the lookout for specialized coverage as specialization means editors are seeking expert advice or opinion, which they do not cover independently. This is a great opportunity as it can be your window to write about what you know best. Pro tip: editors often use terms such as ‘contributor’ or ‘special writer’ for freelance journalists. If you note these, you can be certain that those stories or articles were not generated by the editorial team itself.

Freelance Journalism for magazines or newspapers?

Some more good news for freelance writers

Both media forms invite external voices through essays and opinion pieces. Newspapers also allow you to create your own section if one is creative or original enough. One such is the ‘aunty agni’ section that has only emerged in recent times where people can share their relationship issues anonymously on Sunday weekly and get a psychologist or life coach’s expert advice and opinion. Similarly, numerous food and travel reviews have also surfaced to aid people with their cuisine and travel experiences. All in all, freelancing for a newspaper can be a great side gig to invest in while you wait for your magazine career to kick off. Research and find out all there is know about the media and your company of interest before you start off. Already pitched a piece and facing rejection? Remember not to take the failure personally as rejection does not reflect on your ability. It is crucial to consider that sometimes your story is just not the right fit for the publication you wrote for and would do much better in another publication. This is your sign to not give up but keep revising and looking for that perfect publication. However, if you feel there is room for improvement on how to pitch an article or want our recommendation on how to become a freelance journalist, catch up more on our previous blog posts. Finally, and this cannot be stressed enough, remember that personal preferences do not always result in a great career choice. To be a successful freelance journalist, one must always be flexible and look for alternatives as one story can often lead to another.

Read more about the future of journalism

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