Tips for Selling Articles to Parenting Magazines

Thursday, March 16, 2017
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Writing for parenting magazines has helped beef up my freelance income for many years. Almost thirteen, to be exact, as I started pitching these types of articles when my now-teen daughter was an infant. In the past year, I’ve made money by compiling calendar events for a local magazine, helping with researching and editing projects, writing about travel, politics, health and fitness and more. It’s always interesting to see what types of articles go into an issue, and it’s a great opportunity for freelance writers to make a little extra money.

I spoke to the editor I work with at one regional parenting magazine and asked her what types of articles editors are seeking. There are “evergreen” topics that magazines run year after year but are still important. You know what I’m talking about: “Avoid Summer Brain Drain” “Get Ready for Back to School!” etc. This is your chance to find a unique angle on these topics and pitch to parenting magazines. Dig a little deeper—find something that will make an editor immediately respond to your pitch. Don’t just offer up an essay on your experience with having a baby; most magazines are looking for service articles with tips and quotes from experts and other parents.

Here are a few topics you can brainstorm with:

Welcoming a Baby. What is some practical advice to offer parents heading home with newborn? Come up with a catchy title like “Don’t Plan on Wearing Your Pre-Baby Jeans Home and Other Survival Tips for New Parents” and go from there.

Seasonal Fun and Crafts. Search for a list of fun holidays and birthdays, such as May the 4th (Star Wars Day) or March 14 (Pi Day). Pitch an article with examples of activities you could do to celebrate those days. Editors are always looking for content for things like Valentine’s Day, St. Patrick’s Day, Dr. Seuss’ birthday, Martin Luther King Jr. Day, etc. These are the exception to the “must interview sources” rule. Articles with activities, recipes and craft ideas would work fine here.

Potty Training. This is a topic that never goes out of style, but think outside of the box (of Pampers). How about something like “The Great Pull-Up Debate?” Interview parents and experts who discuss the pros and cons of using pull-up diapers versus going cold turkey with only underwear.

You get the idea. There is plenty of material out there, so start researching and get pitching. Query an editor three to four months ahead of time for regional parenting magazine editors and eight to twelve months for national publications. Once you’ve sold your first few articles, you can offer reprints to non-competing markets and continue to collect income.

Have you ever sold an article to a parenting magazine? What was the topic? If you are a parent, what subjects would you like to see covered?

Renee Roberson is freelance writer and editor whose article “Alternative Treatments for Autism” received first place honors in the magazine article category of the Writer’s Digest Annual Writing Competition in 2009.


Sioux Roslawski said...

Renee--I think parents would love to see articles that have tips on how to avoid temper tantrums with their pre-schooler. Seeing how some parents discipline their kids (yelling, smacking, cursing) while in the grocery store, they need it. However, would those parents read parenting magazines? Probably not.

Margo Dill said...

I sold a couple articles to family magazines about arts and crafts activities--one went with a book. I am working on some essays for some of the mom sites. I need to get my butt in the chair and send them out!

Mary Horner said...

Love this! All moms have stories about what did and did NOT work for them. Mining our own material can be lucrative.

Renee Roberson said...

Sioux, I hear you. I always want to gently tap them on the shoulder and say, "Maybe a nap is in order? Or a soft pretzel like the way I used to bribe my kids?"

Margo, I have so many reprints I could sell at this point but I also need to get my butt in chair to do it! Mary, as my kids are entering their teens I have a whole other world I could mine from now :-)

Tara Lynne Groth said...

Good tips, Renee! I published a piece in Cheseapeake Family on how to pay for a summer weight loss camp for teens. I sold a re-print of it to Bay State Parent. I've also ghostwritten on spring outdoor craft activities and summer beach toys for Carolina Parent. The nice thing is that I enjoy writing about these lifestyle topics - and I equally enjoy being child-free! :)

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