I first decided to write articles for magazines targeting disabled readers and their families when reading about the high unemployment rate among people with major disabilities, even highly educated ones. I discovered that there was at least one magazine, Careers and the DisABLED, targeting these disabled readers by publishing articles on job-hunting and inspirational success stories. Later, I became frustrated in trying to sell travel articles in the highly competitive newspaper and travel magazine market. By taking the perspective of a mobility-impaired person on vacation, I was able to break into the travel market with an article in the magazine SPECIALIVING. This magazine targets mobility-impaired readers.
More than twenty magazines target disabled readers and their families. These offer interesting markets for freelancers specializing in a variety of fields. Writing fees for magazines in this category range from less than $0.10 to $1.00 per word. Besides being a good writer, the key to getting published in these magazines is to focus on disabled readers – their health issues, lifestyles and how they can achieve professional success. Writers specializing in medicine, health, travel, human interest, jobs and careers and even sports can find markets among these magazines. For example, I have written several articles on job hunting and a profile of a successful disabled scientist for Careers & the disABLED, which targets disabled college and high school students and their families.
Travel articles can be written to emphasize the concerns of disabled vacationers, coping methods and products meeting their needs. For instance, I wrote an article for “SPECIALIVING” describing how the Alaska Railroad offered opportunities for mobility-impaired travels to enjoy the beautiful, rugged scenery of the state. I described accommodation services the railroad offers to disabled passengers as well as the sights to be seen while riding the rails.
Disabled magazines often focus on a particular condition or disability. Medical writers can place articles based on medical advances and interviews of leading medical researchers in magazines such as InsideMS and Arthritis Today. Medical, health and lifestyle writers can find markets for articles about disabled people coping with their situations in creative ways. Health writers who currently focus on articles about diet and exercise for healthy, young readers can expand their markets to include disability magazines by taking the perspective and interests of readers of these magazines into account when writing manuscripts.
You can also find markets, particularly for profiles of disabled members of various professions in magazines, published by professional associations such as the American Chemical Society’s in Chemistry.
Sports writers can find magazine markets that focus on athletes with disabilities. For example, Sports N Spokes and Challenge cover wheelchair sports. Sporting events such as the Special Olympics and local events for athletes with disabilities can provide fodder for additional articles.
Technology writers, provided they don’t get too technical, can write about new developments such as advanced hearing aids and robot aids to paraplegics for magazines such as Hearing Health and PN.
As with all magazine writing, the key is to understand the magazine’s readership and the magazine’s editorial emphasis. For example, some magazines such as Arthritis Today cover the latest developments in medical research and treatment for particular diseases as a major focus while others such as Careers & the DisABLED publish articles in this area only infrequently. Others such as Diabetes Self-Management focus on self-help to better manage a disease or disability situation. These often publish articles on exercise, nutrition and other aspects of self-care.
Queries and submissions that are not welcomed by disability magazines include advocacy articles and articles describing what it’s like to have a disability. These are better targeted to magazines with mainstream readerships.
Reslanting articles published in mainstream magazines can both increase your list of article credits and fatten your wallet. For example, find the right experts to interview and asking the right questions can enable you to reslant some of your articles on exercise and fitness for disabilities magazines.
These magazines can provide readers with both a source of income and the warm feeling that comes from helping people.
ABLE: THE NEWSPAPER FOR, BY, AND ABOUT THE DISABLED
Careers & the Disabled
Closing the Gap
PN – Paralyzed Veterans of America – Magazine covering news and information for wheelchair users.
Sports N Spokes – bimonthly magazine covering wheelchair sports and recreation
John Borchardt is a Houston freelancer who has written more than 1100 published articles on science, the environment, medicine, jobs and careers, management and travel. He is currently working on the second edition of his book “Career Management for Scientists and Engineers.”