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Thread: Welcome to one of freelancing's best-kept secrets!

  1. #1
    featurewriter
    Guest

    Welcome to one of freelancing's best-kept secrets!

    Greetings!

    Jenna was kind enough to invite me to kick off this forum for freelancers who work with trade and association press ... or freelancers who might be interested in this lucrative niche market ... or for people who might have heard of trade press at one time or another ... or for those who can identify a trade magazine two out of three times on sight alone (or not!).

    Trade press is a great way to get published, make a decent living with relatively little stress (compared to some other freelance arenas), and get your name in front of company decision-makers who may need your services for other projects.

    During the years I edited a major industry publication, I received an average of less than one query per month, and even then it was rarely from freelancers. Usually the inquiries were from advertisers who wanted some free promotion. Like any other magazine, not only did we need features on specialized topics of interest to our niche market, but general interest material as it applied to our market as well.

    Here's a little story to show how wide open this field is. In search of contributors, we posted our publication in Writers Market and waited for the phone to ring. But even the writing industry's "Bible" didn't hold a prayer for us -- no one ever called! The association that the magazine supported had over 2,000 companies as members ... a tremendous back-end potential for any writer who cared to offer his or her services, with a well-paid audition in front of the entire industry each time an article was published. And no takers!

    It wasn't the pay; our magazine, like countless others in the trade press arena, paid as well as or better than many consumer publications. It wasn't the industry or the subject material. It was, simply, that freelancers in general had no idea of the tremendous potential in trade press.

    Never in my life was an opportunity more glaringly obvious. So, I switched sides of the editor's desk. Today I'm a full-time freelance writer, specializing in filling that gap and making a good living while enjoying more free time than ever before.

    Okay, Jenna asked me to write a greeting and here I am composing a symphony! What I really want to say is that trade press is an awesome way to soar as a freelancer. It's relatively simple to break into, the pay is great, and the supply of assignments is practically endless. You'll get tons of exposure in front of people who need good writers to help image their businesses. And because there's so little competition, once an editor likes your work, you can expect a steady stream of assignments.

    Interested? Let's start the conversation!
    Last edited by Featurewriter; 01-01-2006 at 01:33 AM.

  2. #2
    Tangewystl
    Guest

    Trade press/freelancing

    Hi Michael,

    Thanks for kicking off the conversation! I am just getting started as a freelancer. I am interested in learning more about "trade press". I have heard the term but would appreciate a description or even an example of a trade publication.

    Thanks,
    Ellen
    Tangewystl1@aol.com

  3. #3
    featurewriter
    Guest

    Getting Started

    Hi Ellen,

    Thank you -- that's a great place to start. I've posted two reference items in the Water Cooler to help set the stage. If anyone has info on other resources, please jump in and let us know!

    Michael

  4. #4
    Sandra Gurvis
    Guest

    Re: Getting Started

    Hi, Michael:

    I am definitely interested in doing trade journal writing, and have had excellent experiences in the past (right now I'm tied up with another project but hopefully that will only be for a couple more months).

    Do you have any names of trade publications that are good to write for? (Feel free to visit my Web site, www.sgurvis.com).

    Thanks!

    Sandra Gurvis

  5. #5
    featurewriter
    Guest

    Re: Getting Started

    Welcome, Sandra!

    Check out our Resources section in this forum. It's mainly a primer on how to start finding work and obtaining support materials for this genre.

    Part of what I'm asking people to do is to think unconventionally. Trade and association press is not widely thought of as being "mainstream" to freelance writers. But the same basic rules apply; it's simply a market that isn't widely known.

    I'd like to ask everyone to share their stories and resources. Just this morning I found another book that might be really useful for this genre ... it's called "Careers for Nonconformists," by Sandra Gurvis.

    Here's an excerpt from the online "jacket":

    "[Sandra] covers what it takes to break into a field, what to expect, and what you'll need to do to thrive, and includes useful reference information such as associations, Web sites, trade magazines, and much more. Thirty profiles of people who have succeeded in unusual endeavors put a real face on these interesting and eclectic undertakings-one of which could be the career you've always wanted."

    Here's the link to the book on amazon.com:

    www.amazon.com/exec/obido...74-7798458

    Glad you could stop by!
    Michael

  6. #6
    Wordaholic
    Guest
    Having read a few trade publications in my time, I would have to say that anyone trying to write for that market had better be prepared to become an expert in that field. The audience consists of industry insiders with a good general knowledge -- if not expert knowledge, and you had better know your stuff. I used to be in screenprinting and the trade publications we received mostly covered arcane advances in the field more sophisticated than anything we dealt with, but we still knew enough to have caught almost any error. Furthermore, some people rely on trade publications for in-depth knowledge about new processes. They're relying on what you tell them to do in what order, your numbers and your data. I've sold articles to consumer magazines on topics as diverse as canoe paddling and astronomy (I'm not an expert in either, believe me), but I find the trade mag audience intimidating. Please tell me it ain't so.

  7. #7
    owenobsgatenet
    Guest

    Trade mags

    Greetings:
    A thousand years ago when I freelanced fulltime, the 'bible' of the trade magazines was Gebbie's Press; sort of a blue-collar Writer's Market. Less than an eon ago I wrote, and was paid handsomely for, an article in a precision-machinery company's in-house magazine. The company literally manufactured and sold nuts 'n bolts; but their employees were offered a smorgasbord of titillating titles in a slick TV-Guide-sized glossy magazine.
    The feature story I sold them was about the travels and travails of a group of Russian Old Beleivers who had spent 300 years+ roaming the world in exile, finally locating in Oregon and Alaska, a short-hop from Home Base.
    Sooooo - the title/subject of a trade magazine is NOT a definitive clue to the type of material trade or in-house magazines seek and, come to think of it, mebbe I'll try that market again.
    The note below was snipped for a lawyer's promotional website, for a bit of background on Gebbie's. But a hands-on eyeball of its content MAY be found in your local library. It costs $100 !!

    Media Directories such as the All-in-One Directory by Gebbie Press, Inc.,
    at <www.gebbieinc.com>, which includes over 20,000 listings for
    newspapers and magazines of general and limited interest and costs about $100. (It's in
    most public libraries, along with its top-of-the-line competitor, Bacon's Media
    Directories.)

    --
    Yours sincerely,

    Jack Owen (Prop.)
    Old Book Shop, web page <www.anoldbooklook.com>
    1207 North Dixie Highway,
    Lake Worth, FL 33460 USA
    Tel 561)588-5129
    Charter Member FABA <www.floridabooksellers.com>

  8. #8
    featurewriter
    Guest
    Hi Wordaholic,

    I believe it IS so if you're trying to tell a highly-skilled audience how to "do" what they've spent years doing. I avoid those types of articles for the very reasons you pointed out; I'm NOT an expert and don't even play one on TV (much less in your local friendly trade publication!).

    On the other hand, many of the paid experts, while knowing their fields inside and out, couldn't put a sentence together to save their lives. If you're skilled at deciphering techno-speak, you may find a good sideline in translating for these folks. But even if I did have those skills (which I don't, nor am I really interested) I'd STILL avoid a byline, preferring instead to ghost-write.

    I won't take on a technical "how-to" (usually ... I won't say "never") but I will write a feature on an issue that could impact an industry, even if at the core of the subject is a technical issue. For example, one of my current assignments is to write a story on the impact that a particular harmless chemical has on the composting process. Now, I can barely spell "compost," and have even less ability to describe its qualities to the landscaping industry (which is the target audience). I don't know anything about chemistry (at least, that's what one or two of my ex-girlfriends have said), nor do I claim to understand much about the difference between compost and peat moss.

    But! My assignment isn't to become a tech expert. What's happening is that gardeners are using a non-toxic, environmentally-friendly chemical in treating lawns (for some reason, which I'll learn when I do my homework). Then the gardener mows the lawn, and eventually the clippings make their way to a landfill. Once there, they're separated from other garbage and sent to a compost-making facility. If this chemical gets into the compost windrows (big piles of brown organic material), it will mess up the composting process. The compost won't be "right." Then, when a landscape contractor buys this compost and tries to apply it, it could damage or ruin their project.

    The story here is that the landscape contractor has to know what he or she is buying, and how to avoid getting stuck with this problem. For that, you turn to the experts to tell you how to look out for it, what to do about it, and resources (organizations) that can help you. I listen to the problem being described, the solutions to it that the experts have come up with, and then I write the story in plain English.

    I'll write about the compost and how it can affect a landscaper's business ... but I'll avoid like the plague an article telling the landscaper how to apply the compost.

    What ain't so is that general freelancers have to become experts to work in trade press. That's one misconception that I hope to dispel in this forum!

  9. #9
    featurewriter
    Guest

    Re: Trade mags

    Thanks, Jack -- this is good information to have.

  10. #10
    writebythesea
    Guest

    Re: Getting Started

    Michael,
    Thanks for the great advice and information! I am a burned-out newspaper reporter looking to expand my horizons and this was the type of information I needed.
    I'm especially interested in writing for jewelry trade magazines. Do you have experience with these?
    Can you, or anyone out there, offer advice on writing/breaking in to this market?
    Thanks for the help.

  11. #11
    featurewriter
    Guest

    Re: Getting Started - Jewelry Journals

    Personally, I don't ... but your approach is a great example of how to get started. You have a field you're interested in writing for, and there's a whole industry with lots of levels that you can pursue.

    You might want to find out if there's an association representing jewelers and/or jewelry merchants in your state. Some industries band together in regions (groups of states) if they don't have the numbers to support one that solely represents their own state. In any case, find out who represents the industry.

    When you contact that entity, keep this in mind: editors for association pubs are usually not adverse to taking calls from freelancers. Even if they don't have work for you, they should know which other publications are read by their constituents. To further encourage them to talk, you might also express an interest in affiliate membership ... especially if their members might be a potential market for your writing services!

    Association members often -- but not always -- prefer to do business with people who support their industry through association membership. It's not a must, but it certainly adds points when you're trying to score.

    Finally, here's one more pitch for Writer's Market: for three bucks, you can get a one-month membership and access their database. If you're serious and want to find out more, here's the URL:

    www.writersmarket.com

    I hope you'll let us know how it comes out. Thanks for your input!

    Michael

  12. #12
    MalcolmAB
    Guest

    Trade publications

    Hi Michael
    Thanks for your interesting comments.I specialise in writing on management topics, from 'do it yourself' type items for company upgrading, to the latest in international management.
    Responses have been pretty thin so far,do you have any ideas on where I can find a better market?
    (I have a published book on this topic but that doesn't seem to help much either!)
    Sincerely

    Malcolm Birkin

  13. #13
    owenobsgatenet
    Guest

    Trade SHOW leads

    Greetings:
    Jewellry feature leads, or any other subject of choice, can be found by a search of GOOGLE.Com. There are a zillion trade shows listed, each one stocked with manufacturers, representatives, PR flaks and TONS of take-out data and brochures.
    There's a biggie in Basle, Switzerland, next month - hint ;-))
    Yours sincerely,

    Jack Owen (Prop.)
    Old Book Shop, web page <www.anoldbooklook.com>
    1207 North Dixie Highway,
    Lake Worth, FL 33460 USA
    Tel 561)588-5129
    Charter Member FABA <www.floridabooksellers.com>

  14. #14
    featurewriter
    Guest

    Re: Trade publications

    Malcolm and Jack:

    I'm going to copy and paste your comments into a new segment called "generating leads for trade press." Let's pick up this discussion over there.

    Michael

  15. #15
    Visitor
    Guest

    Comment on this section

    Hi Michael,
    I've read this section of the forum a few times and think it's a great addition to the forum. I can't understand why there is so little activity here. Maybe most writers don't consider the trades glamorous enough to warrant their attention.
    I hope you keep this section going. IMO it's incredibly worthwhile. I haven't yet decided if I'll register as a member of the forum, but I do appreciate all the information you've shared here.

    I'm still unpublished but I'd like to write for some of the trades, so I look forward to continuing to learn from all of you.

    I've become quite a fan of Jenna's. I've read a few of her interviews and learned a bit about her. Amazing story. Love the way she runs this forum. Hope she keeps this section on trades an active part of the forum.
    Thanks again Michael.

  16. #16
    featurewriter
    Guest

    Re: Comment on this section

    Thanks for the input! I'm the first to admit that writing for trade pubs isn't exactly glamorous. But there's also what I think is a misperception that writers need an in-depth knowledge of an industry in order to land assignments. My experience has been that it's no different from identifying any other target audience and angling a feature to those particular folks.

    It's understandable that writers would hesitate to approach a trade publication. For example, I write for the green industry (landscaping, horticulture, etc.) but have very little knowledge of plants. What I DO know, however, is that there are many things common to ALL businesses (good relations, basic marketing, understanding your clientele', etc.), and nearly all of my articles take these common elements and slant them toward a pub's audience. In this case, it just happens to be landscapers.

    Occasionally I'll pick up a techie-type assignment, but most trade pubs don't want a writer to tell their readers how to use products or convey intricacies about how they work ... editors are more interested in how applying some piece of new technology can help a business owner. The way I find out is by interviewing end-users who match the demographics of the readership. They're more than happy to guide me through, because it's great PR for them to be quoted in a glossy publication. I've spoken to CEOs of the biggest companies in the U.S., and never once had one turn me away just because I wasn't an industry expert.

    Lots of writers have asked which publications are good to write for, and some have shared their contacts. What I've tried to do is point writers to the sources where they'll find more leads and info than they'll ever need. Kendall Hansen's book describes, in detail, dozens of trade publishing firms which cover hundreds of publications. Writers Market Online provides daily updates of trade pubs looking for writers. Together, these two sources cost around $45 and will lead a writer to more options than they'll ever know what to do with. And that's just two sources ... there are hundreds.

    I was hoping to help create a discussion forum for people who write for trade and association press, but it seems that many visitors to this forum are mostly interested in leads. That's understandable ... but there are far better places to find that information than this could ever be.

    Perhaps the Water Cooler isn't frequented by enough trade writers (or hopefuls) to support a full-blown nuts-and-bolts discussion forum. But I'll be here whenever anyone wants to chat. Thanks for your kind words!

    Michael

  17. #17
    Visitor
    Guest

    Good information!

    You put a lot of information in your posts! I'm going to look for a copy of Kendall Hansen's book. I already have Writer's Market '03.
    Your approach to the trades, using common elements as a jumping off point, makes a lot of sense. After thinking about it for a while, I had come to a similar decision. I've had a wide range of experience in several kinds of businesses over the years. Sales and marketing mostly. There are probably a few things I've picked up over that time that will help me, both in prospecting for sales, and in finding angles for articles.
    I'm hoping to find my first sale in the next couple of months. It'll be nice to finally break the ice.
    I'll be checking in from time to time.

  18. #18
    featurewriter
    Guest

    Let us know how it goes!

    Looking forward to hearing how it comes out. I hope you'll stay in touch and share some of your early experiences.

    Have fun! All the best to you.

  19. #19
    lastr
    Guest

    Re: Good information!

    I found this thread fascinating and full of great information. I pick up a few writing assignments myself freelancing for a few trade magazines. I prefer to interview an expert or two and quote them in any article that demands expert opinions in it. I generally stick to the history of the widgets and what people are doing with it, rather than the how or why of the internal workings of it.

  20. #20
    Selenia692
    Guest

    Re: Let us know how it goes!

    I'm in the process of reading that aforementioned wonderful book, and have already gotten an assignment from one trade mag. It's absolutely awesome and the editor is a dream to work with.

  21. #21
    Betty W01
    Guest

    Re: Good information!

    Don't miss taking a peek at the database of trade magazines that I posted under the subject line "DON'T MISS THIS!"

    This offer is good until the end of August and if you spend an hour or two trawling, you could end up with a lot of new markets and article ideas.

    Good luck!

  22. #22
    featurewriter
    Guest

    Re: Good information!

    Thank you Betty!

  23. #23
    armyjim
    Guest

    Trades...writing for them from the "boondocks"

    I live out in the boonies. However, even though I am off the beaten path, I have decided to try my hand at writing for trades.

    Since I worked in construction, I may try to write for those types of trades, although I did do a stint in a bowling alley as a mechanic/salesman/counterperson/bartender. It was there that I actually saw most of the trade magazines that I have seen (not too many trade mags on jobsites).

    From the responses in this forum it sounds like there is a market, but some of those messages are a few years old. Is the market still out there? Are the resources still the same, or have they changed names?

    So many questions...

  24. #24
    armyjim
    Guest

    oops...forgot something...

    I forgot to add in my prior message...I am an unpublished writer...:eek

  25. #25
    wurdwise
    Guest

    Re: oops...forgot something...

    My advice is to first buy yourself a 2005 Writer's Market. They have them at all major bookstores, and it cost around $30.00. It is filled with advice on how to get started, and lists paying markets from trade publications and many others that you could submit to with your experience. Think outside the box. You don't have to limit yourself just to trades, unless that's all you want to do.

    But say for example you wrote a story about the construction business that was designed for a trade market you found. You could take that story and add a bar after work, and whalla, you have an article for a blue collar magazine.

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