Welcome to the Trades

Monday, January 10, 2011

Are you looking for new markets for your writing? Have you tried the trades? Trade magazines are for people in a specific industry and, in my experience, have skeleton staffs and rely heavily on a stable of freelance writers they contact regularly. There are trade magazines for everything from beauty shop owners to electrical contractors to candy manufacturers.

Let me use my ESP and predict what you’re thinking…is it “I know nothing about running beauty shops, electrical contracting businesses or candy manufacturers” ? Just call me the Amazing Jodi. I’ll be performing in Vegas all through the month of February. But seriously, writing for trades isn’t just for people who also have extensive knowledge of another profession. In my experience there are four types of articles found in trades.

1. Professional Knowledge – These are articles written by people active in the trade: they know the trends, the challenges unique to the profession, the movers and the shakers. Do you have a day job or past career that has trade magazines?

2. Knowledge Lite – You need some knowledge of the industry but often you can study up on the industry or the editor will help you out. I found I could interview movers and shakers in various industries(nothing too technical…I wouldn’t try to tackle a rocket scientist)by reading back issues so I asked the right questions. Sometimes you have knowledge of a complementary field that can help you out. Being a substitute teacher(not to mention a mom)helped me out with toy industry trades. If you worked in clothing retail you might be able to use that knowledge to get work in other trades that involve sales such as those for gift shops or coffee houses. What professional knowledge do you have that could be adapted to other fields?

3. Business Knowledge – These magazines are directed at business owners. Every business owner, whether they’re involved with selling beer, selling ad space or selling their special skills as a cardiologist has to deal with the same types of things. Taxes, advertising, employees, health insurance, office space…if you’re an accountant, interior designer, lawyer, bookkeeper, publicist or a host of other professions you can adapt your specialized knowledge to countless trade magazines. Recently I’ve seen articles on grooming the new generation for the family business in trades for breweries, pizza restaurants, and wineries. So what do you know that could help business owners?

4. General Knowledge – Believe it or not, some articles in trade magazines can be lifted out and placed in Woman’s Day, Men’s Health, E-The Environmental Magazine…Many trades have articles slanted toward their industry but basically about physical and mental health, environment, and lifestyle. You can propose an article on yoga to CPA Today by mentioning yoga that can be done at your desk during tax season. Or an article on insomnia to State Cops by mentioning switching shifts. Or an article on recycling to Mexican Food and Beverage by mentioning how going green can promote your business to the community.

Trades are ghost publications…you know they’re out there but sometimes it’s tough to see them. You won’t find them in your local bookstore and those online sites that promise a free copy often only want to give them to people involved in the profession. Sometimes you can find info about trade magazines(and back copies)online but my best source is neighborhood businesses. Just go into a local business and ask if they have any past issues of trade magazines(they often get them from their suppliers). I went to a florist friend asking for a trade mentioned in the last issue of Premium Green and ended up with back copies of that magazine and two other titles. I also found local trades at my local elementary school, electrical contractor and dentist. Now all I have to do is figure out what dentists want to read about.

Jodi Webb has written hundreds of magazines articles including for trades in the toy and hobby industry, shipping industry, and electrical contracting industry despite the fact that she doesn't own a toy company, tractor trailer or a 1000 foot reel of wire. Stop by her blog Words by Webb.


Anonymous said...

Great info!
I never thought about asking for back issues of magazines at the florist!

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