When I started my freelance writing career back in 2007, I wasn’t fussy about the publications that ran my articles. I just wanted to get my stories published – anywhere. I needed bylines!
Many of my early publications had small circulations. They were smaller specialty publications with relatively low numbers of subscribers. These were the types of magazines you’d find at your local newsstand, rather than on the top shelf of the magazine racks at your local bookstore—and some never even made the racks at all.
Even as I steadily moved up the travel writing totem pole, I continued to write for some of the smaller magazines because they offered significant benefits and some offered pretty decent pay despite their size. Here’s why you should pitch the smaller magazines, too.
1. Small Publications are Easier to Break Into
You’ll find far less competition when you pitch the small guys. Because these magazines tend to pay less, most veteran writers bypass them. This leaves the “small fry” editors more receptive to pitches from novice writers.
One of my earliest small magazine successes was in a Pacific Northwest publication called Colors Northwest, where I wrote about the multi-racial student population at a community college I was teaching at. This was a free magazine distributed around the Seattle area, with a strong diversity theme. Another magazine, Tech Directions, published my piece about a fellow community college instructor who was the nation’s top motorcycle and small engine repair teacher.
Your acceptance rate will be much higher with these smaller, more obscure types of publications. For new writers, if you focus on pitching smaller outlets in your first year or two of freelance writing, you’ll build your bylines much quicker. But, veteran writers can also increase their income by pitching to smaller publications. I used the Kitsap Sun, a small Puget Sound newspaper, and Coast Food & Arts, an Oregon Coast “foodie” magazine to build my early bylines, along with many other small magazines.
2. Find Regional Publications
Early on, I mined local and regional magazines to build my bylines. With some persistence, I broke into 15 Pacific Northwest regional magazines and newspapers, including Columbia Gorge, Gorge Guide, Harbors In-flight, 38 Degrees North, Northwest Travel & Life, Oregon Coast, Outdoors Northwest, Pacific Horticulture, Washington Tasting Room, and several others. In total, my regional bylines amounted to more than 100 published stories.
The beauty of writing for regionals is that the stories are in your own backyard. From these assignments, I also landed plenty of complimentary lodge and resort stays, restaurant meals, guided tours, transport and free entry to tourist attractions.
3. You Can Resell Your Articles to Bigger, Better-Paying Magazines
I had several articles published about military fortresses and museums, and guns, in a small specialty magazine called Artilleryman. I eventually resold all of these articles to better paying military magazines and travel magazines. I even resold some of my travel-related stories—for a third time—to a travel website.
Where Do You Find Smaller Publications?
I had no difficulty finding hundreds of small publications to pitch my travel stories to. In the English-speaking world (U.S.A, U.K, Australia, New Zealand, Canada) there are 16,078 print publications! This figure includes travel magazines and travel-related genres, plus thousands of specialty genres. In the U.K. alone, there are 2,639 different publications. Many of these magazines are small circulation publications.
Your search for small and regional publications should start with a visit to your local bookstore and newsagents. Your bookstore will have an entire section of them. It will also have plenty of magazines from nearby states. Likewise, your local library will have a few small magazine leads.
An online search will also reveal a treasure trove of small publications.
Here are some links where you can find local and regional magazines:
International Magazine Association
City and Regional Magazine Association
This website is a gold mine with a large regional listing
WritersWeekly.com has a list of regional publications that pay writers.
Paying travel markets for writers are RIGHT HERE.
You can also find online writer’s guidelines for regional magazines at
freelancewriting.com’s travel publications category.
And, you can see all of their categories HERE.
Use Magazine Vendor Websites To Find New Paying Markets For Writers! By Robert Kingett
Not Local? No Problem! 18 Regional Markets That Pay NON-LOCAL Writers! by Angela Hoy
Paying Fem-Focused Travel Markets for Writers by Shanon Lee
12 Paying Markets for Your Travel Writing! – by Emmanuel Nataf
Science Writing: A Lucrative Niche (with Paying Markets) By John K. Borchardt
Freelance travel writer Roy Stevenson has had more than 1,000 articles published in 200+ regional, national, and international magazines, newspapers, trade journals, custom publications, specialty magazines, in-flights, on-boards, and online travel magazines. He’s considered one of the most prolific travel writers in the U.S.A. You can read Roy’s bio and see some samples of his work at his writer’s website, www.Roy-Stevenson.com. He produces a free weekly newsletter for aspiring travel writers. It’s considered one of the most informative e-zines in the travel writing business. Subscribe here: http://www.pitchtravelwrite.com/pitchtravelwrite-ezine.html
And, check out Roy’s book!
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small magazine pay is usually also very small. you can NOT always resell that article unless the next buyer takes reprints. many good paying magazines want first rights and too many take all rights.