Whether you are writing for print magazines or for digital publications, in today’s tough writing business, you can’t afford to miss out on the opportunities, and the cash, that writing for trade magazines offer. Most freelance writers have not considered writing for “the trades”, and it is a market that remains largely unexplored by a majority of freelance writers. The great thing about writing for trade magazines and periodicals is that there are so many opportunities for writers. Virtually every single business and industry has a publication or publications in various print and digital formats to share information with people in their industry.
Trade magazines serve specific industries or associations, and very often there are magazines that cater to even more specific sub-sets of a particular industry or technology within a larger genre. There are trade magazines for every industry from agriculture to zephyrs and everything in between. The writing possibilities are endless, as is the demand for good technical writers, among others.
Trade magazines keep their readers up-to-date with what’s happening in their industry, so it is very important that they contain the latest and most up to date information and data. They alert readers to upcoming trade shows and conferences, and their writers usually have all of the insider information about who’s who in the industry. Another perk for writers is that the advertisements that are placed in trade magazines are industry-specific, so they can be used to research job opportunities for a specific industry. Writing for trade publications require a general knowledge of the jargon and specific language used in any given industry or business, because the articles are written for people working or studying in that industry or profession.
Trade magazines are not professional journals although people often do not make the distinction. The professions (e.g., law, medicine, accounting) produce journals that are simply too technical and too complex for a layperson to write for. These publications are written for and consumed by the people in their field. The trades, however, are different. They provide a more generalized type of information, focusing on the basics and short articles.
Trade magazines provide considerable benefits for business and individuals that would otherwise not be available in general mass media publications. Trade publications are widely thought of as a trusted source of information, and they are a huge industry-specific advertising marketplace for products and services as well as providing a system of networking and communication among industry members and organizations.
There are a few specific things to consider for online publishing, time and money being the most obvious. The financial costs to publishing online can be substantially less than printing a paper publication, but the set-up and initial start-up can be costly for various reasons. The investment in time will be comparable for either format. Different skills are required to succeed in an online environment as well, such as coding, and using digital publishing software.
The financial rewards of digital publishing are still being developed, with advertisers just beginning to understand the value of digital ad space. Once the format becomes more main-stream, the value of digital ads will increase. This is happening now. Another advantage of digital publishing, especially for personal use, is that you control your publication schedule and the time needed from concept to publications is much smaller. Meeting deadlines in print means dealing with content as well as advertising, which can be stressful and frustrating. Online, your deadlines are self-imposed.
Depending on what you are publishing and who you want to reach, digital publishing might be the way to go. Distribution online is cheaper than the physical delivery of printed pages, but more attention must be paid to advertising and engagement. Linking to webpages is one way to go without any great outlay of money to start. Publications that need a large distribution are best suited for digital publishing because there are no constraints in physically getting the product to the customers. All anyone needs is an internet connection and device to read on.
A high quality publication with high quality content will attract more readers and advertisers.
People still seem to like the look and feel of print magazines, and often complain that they dislike reading from a computer screen, so the look and “feel” of a digital publication must offer the reader a good, satisfying experience. One of the ways to ensure keeping the attention of a reader is to present it in a format that uses the digital technology to full advantage, such as using embedded videos, quizzes and surveys to engage the reader in a way that is not possible in print. This will require extra effort and time for editorial planning and decision making.
In closing, stick with your instincts. If you have the drive and talent to publish, don’t be afraid to publish online. The rewards can be great once you find the formula that works for you and what you’re trying to say. When you find your target audience, give them information that they can use and they will keep coming back for more
Online publishing will provide many unique opportunities that print media cannot. The creative, tenacious online publisher will discover what these are for themselves.