Saturday, July 17, 2010

Writing Web Exclusive Articles for Popular Magazines (Part 3 of 3)

At last! Here's the final post in a 3-part series on how setting your sights on a magazine's website instead of the magazine itself can help you succeed with writing articles - fitness-related or otherwise.

To get answers about what web exclusives mean to writers, I turned to in-the-know web editors from three major Canadian women's magazines: Best Health, Chatelaine and Homemakers.   

They weigh in on my third question below. Or, you can head on over to Part 1 of this series here, and Part 2 here.

Is it easier or harder to break into writing web exclusive pieces for top women’s magazines?

KAT TANCOCK, senior web editor at Reader's Digest, former web editor at Best Health and Canadian Living and blogger at Magazines Online.

KT: Just like with print, web editors often already have a stable of writers that they are used to working with - and you need great ideas to break in. And web editors have a lot less editing and fact-checking resources and therefore are pickier about receiving publishing-ready copy.

However, because the pay tends to be lower, web editors are often more likely to take risks with new writers. And remember, a lot of established print magazine writers have few to no web skills, so if you're a new writer that excels at web writing, that will give you a leg up.

VANESSA MILNE, editor of Chatelaine Walks and former assistant editor at MochaSofa.

VM: I believe it’s easier to break into writing for the web; the pay is worse (although, in my opinion, fair, since there’s often not a second draft, the stories are shorter, and the pieces aren’t fact-checked) and there’s less competition.

That said, like print, most people have a roster of reliable writers they use. Good pitches are the key, I think – tailored pitches, to the magazine’s readership - as well as persistence in following them up. (Asking the editor which sections need articles never hurts, either.)

And good writers are hard to find: People who submit well-researched, clean copy that reflects the assignment letter, on time, and do second drafts and answer questions nicely and quickly, will inevitably be used again.

JENNIFER MELO, web editor at Homemakers.

JM: It can be easier to break into web writing because it’s still a relatively new market — that means many established writers haven’t saturated the online writing market. They’ve built up their contacts in other traditional media and may tend to stick to the contacts they’ve made rather than querying new online publications.

On the flipside, it can be difficult to break into web writing because the online market is still proving itself as revenue-generating medium — that means editorial budgets for web content can be tight and online editors have a limited number of assignments to go around.

Futhermore, online editors aren’t typically working with a large team of staff and may be especially selective about assigning to writers who can be counted on to turn in publish-ready web content.

What's your take? Do you write web exclusives, or want to give it a shot? What do you see as the pros and cons of this new avenue for magazine writing?  

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