Five tips on how to get published in trade publications

Expand your professional portfolio by contributing to trade magazines.


Carl Friesen is the founder of Thought Leadership Resources, helping business professionals build careers by showing their expertise.Reaching potential clients, such as property developers and property managers, can be difficult. But it’s important to build a professional profile to get noticed and stand out as the source of expertise that they need to achieve their goals.

One way to reach potential clients is through establishing a presence where they’re already looking—in their trade and professional publications. These can include printed magazines and associated websites of the business and professional associations to which they belong.

These publications need informative, authoritative articles relevant to their readers. To successfully approach the editors at a trade publication, here are five tips to follow:

Study the publication

Many editors state that they receive many articles that are not written with their readers in mind. Most trade and business publications cover a very narrow range of topics. They want articles about relevant topics that will interest their readers. Taking the time to become familiar with the publication will help you develop article ideas to propose to the editors.

Consider how your expertise relates to readers’ needs

Sometimes, the connection between your area of expertise and the needs of the publication’s readers is clear. If you’re discussing a new regulation on municipal water treatment and the publication is for municipal utilities, there’s a clear connection.

But all too often, you need to think of why your proposed topic is newsworthy and will cause the readers to pay attention. Pick a topic that addresses a pressing issue for the readers.

Gain the editor’s interest first

Many writers put their hearts and souls into writing an article only to have it rejected by the editor. Editors generally don’t like to get what they call an “unsolicited manuscript,” which is editor-speak for an article they didn’t ask for. So, take advantage of a secret used by many freelance writers—send the editor a query letter to gain buy-in for your idea before you actually write the article. A good query letter contains four points:

  • The story idea, in three or four sentences.
  • Why the readers of this particular publication would care about this topic.
  • What the article will cover, in three or four one-line bullet points.
  • The author’s qualifications for writing on this topic.

Keep the sales pitch out

If the editor expresses interest in the article idea, go ahead and write. Just remember, the editor is under no obligation to publish what is submitted.

One way to increase your chances of success is to resolutely keep all sales messages out of the article. Any editor of a credible publication will pull out anything that sounds like a sales pitch. They also may ask you to send something they can use—or just delete the article altogether. The article’s focus should be to educate the reader regarding the topic you’re writing about, not to sell them on a product or service.

Add graphics to the article

Most publications need graphic images—charts, tables, photographs—to bring life to the pages. It is vital to send graphics and images for which you have the legal rights. Having quality images that are complementary to the article will add a lot to a lengthy article. Technical subjects can sometimes be easily explained with an additional chart or illustration. 

Getting published can be a lot of work. However, trade publications are relied upon and trusted by potential clients, making it worthwhile.

Carl Friesen is the founder of Thought Leadership Resources, helping business professionals build careers by showing their expertise.

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