Question. Can you guess what type of publication I’m describing?
*Sample copies are often free.
*The pay tends to be on the medium-high side, $500-1000 per article and more.
*These magazines are bulwarks; they survive in any economy.
*Many, if not most of them, pay on acceptance.
Give up? I’m talking about trade magazines; construction industry magazines in particular.
Construction magazines are always looking for material and freelancers. They are hungry for information on equipment, insurance issues, job profiles, problem solving profiles, and information on legislation affecting them. “Construction” doesn’t just apply to the building trades, either. There are aggregate producers, metalworkers, painters, landscaping contractors, to name just a few. Many trades are considered “construction” or “infrastructure” trades. All of them need a steady stream of articles, which can lead to a steady stream of income for you, if you can write them.
There are a couple of simple of things to remember. Idea wise, almost anything goes. Simple profiles are good. I’ve seen articles on silicosis. I once wrote an article on a company that dredged construction stone (aggregate) from the bottom of the Raritan River in New Jersey. I sourced that not only with the company but with the Dutch shipbuilder that built the dredge. Equipment articles are almost always useful: New equipment, new laws regarding equipment, and new OSHA or MSHA requirements (Occupational Safety and Health Administration and Mining Safety and Health Administration, VERY important to know in this industry).
Somewhat counterintuitively, construction articles tend to be quote-heavy. Readers want not just information but good advice on what that information means for them. Therefore, you need to do lots of interviews and get plenty of quotes.
Statistics, although they should be used sparingly, are the seasoning that make a good construction article great. The building trades are highly word-of-mouth oriented, and everybody wants to know what the other guy is doing before they make a move.
Here’s another tip: A freelancer in the Northeastern U.S. who bought themselves a monthly pass on the Acela and offered his services to the various construction mags as a reporter on Senate and House Committee meetings (most meetings are, by law, open to the public) could make themselves a tidy income. Take your notes via Blackberry or e-mail each day and do a write up on the train home. Have you ever done court reporting for the local rag and wanted to move on and move up? Now’s your chance, and you’ve even got experience and a reference. Just be sure to mingle and socialize on the train, too. You’ll pick up useful tidbits as Senators, Congressmen, and aides and interns of all stripes ride each day.
Here are ten good markets to get you started, and remember you can build yourself a great income writing for construction mags!
St. Louis Construction News and Reviews
Pays flat fee of $400 for approx. 1600 words.
Michigan Contractor and Builder
Pays flat fee of $100 per published page plus $65 if it is a cover story.
Grading and Excavation Contractor
Pays flat fee of $650 for 3000-4000 words.
Pays $0.50 per word
Metal Roofing Magazine
Pays $0.50 per word.
Pays $0.25 per word and up
David Berlin is a 31 year old writer who lives on the Jersey Shore. He was paid the princely sum of $65 for his first piece when he was twenty, which kept him in breakfasts at the local Woolworth’s lunch counter, and has been writing for money ever since. He’ll travel anywhere and write anything for anyone if the price is right; he’s written for Antiqueweek, the Well Water Journal, Weatherwise, and a whole host of others. When not at his desk he can be found mooching around his adopted town; eating at the diner and keeping his ears open. You can find him on the web at http://www.groovydaveonline.com and you can look at his Starving Artist’s Survival Guide Blog and Starving Artist Tip Of The Day at .