What’s a “Vertical” Publication? And, How Can You Get In On the Ground Floor? – by Shanon Lee

What’s a “Vertical” Publication? And, How Can You Get In On the Ground Floor? – by Shanon Lee

Let’s face it. Finding a freelance writing opportunity that pays well for your effort and expertise can be a challenge. As a freelancer that recently began contributing to the The Lily and The Blend, offshoots of The Washington Post and Hello Giggles, I noticed a pattern. The trend of publications expanding their digital content has continued.

A “vertical” is when a new publication sprouts from a previous one. It does not serve to replace the existing publication. Rather, it complements it and, of course, cross-promotion will help both publications grow.

Why should you pursue these opportunities?
One of the easiest ways to break into a publication is to pitch managing editors for their new vertical while they are still developing their team and its voice. The quest to find original angles becomes less of an issue. They are building from the ground up, and have the opportunity to explore varying content, which means you may find an unlikely home for pieces you have already written – or want to start writing. Everyone is excited about the upcoming, or recent, launch – and the excitement is infectious. It’s the perfect time to build a relationship with editors before they become less accessible and overwhelmed with submissions.

How can you find these opportunities?
As usual, you must be resourceful when finding new freelance writing opportunities – but it can easily be done. I have found luck by doing the following:

Participate in Facebook Groups for Writers and Editors
Find a Facebook group – or two – for freelance writers that is active and you enjoy participating in. I learned about The Blend from a contributor that was happy with her experience writing for Hello Giggles and wanted to share the new opportunity. Writers will also share their recently published work and you can uncover new verticals that way. In addition, contributing editors often belong to Facebook groups to promote their own writing and recruit new writers.

Conduct Research on Twitter
Do periodic searches and follow the editors of publications you admire on Twitter in order to receive new job alerts firsthand. It often starts with a tweet announcing their new editorial role and an invitation for writers to forward an email of interest with writing clips. It takes a lot less time to shoot a quick e-mail of introduction to an editor seeking contributors for a new vertical, than to craft an original pitch for an existing publication. There is little to no research involved. If you hear about a new opportunity by word of mouth, or from Facebook, you can also refer back to Twitter to research the appropriate editor to pitch. After I heard about The Blend on Facebook, I did a quick Twitter search and found the appropriate editor to e-mail directly.

Follow Trade Publications and Media Institutions On Social Media
Get leads from the social media accounts of trade publications and top media institutions. The Poynter Institute posted their article reporting the launch of The Lily on Facebook that also included a run-down of similar publications. This provided some direction when I was trying to craft a pitch for a publication before its launch. MediaPost reported on the launch of SI Eats, the new food vertical for Sports Illustrated, which I found on their Twitter page. The social media accounts of Folio Magazine, Publishers Weekly and Mediabistro are other great sources.

There are many different routes on the path to achieving freelance writing success, but consistently implementing these strategies can help you break into new publications and start contributing regularly.


Shanon Lee is a Survivor Activist & Storyteller that has been featured on HuffPost Live, The Wall Street Journal, TV One and the REELZ Channel’s Scandal Made Me Famous. Learn more about her work at Mylove4writing.com.


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