Magazine writers supply original content for magazines of all types, big and small. These magazines range from technical journals to fashion magazines. Writers can write 200-word mini articles, and they can write feature articles of 2,000 words complete with pictures. The pay and responsibilities of magazine writers vary widely.
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Staff vs. freelance
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), 70 per cent of all writers are freelancers. Half of those writers who are on a staff are technical writers. This means the vast majority of magazine writers are self-employed writers who produce articles and content for a variety of publications. They do not work for one magazine, nor are they on a staff of writers. They can earn a per-word fee based on a word range, or they can be paid a flat per-article fee.
For staff writers, pay varies according to the size of the magazine they write for and where it is located. Smaller magazines and those in smaller cities pay less, while larger magazines and those located in major publishing centres such as New York, Los Angeles, Chicago and Boston pay more. The average pay for a staff magazine writer in December 2010 is from £20,800 to £39,000, according to Salary Expert. Freelance article writers earn as little as 0 per word to as much as £1.30 per word.
The competition for staff jobs, as well as the limited number of freelance jobs, in the marketplace is fierce. The number of staff positions in magazine publishing is dwindling, according to the BLS, in favour of freelance writers and online publications. The best jobs go to those writers who are experienced, have a professional reputation or have a following.
Staff writers sometimes perform several different jobs besides writing, depending on the size of the publication. Staff writers can perform editing, copy writing, research, web content writing and other functions in addition to writing printed articles. They often handle several writing projects at once within a tight deadline.
Very few freelance article writers get a request for an article from a magazine based on the strength of their work. Most writers must submit queries --- pitches for articles --- or completed articles to publication editors to secure a writing assignment. It can take multiple queries over a period of months before you get an offer for an assignment.
Magazine staff writing jobs typically require a bachelor's degree in journalism, English, communications or writing. Of course, superior writing skills are a prerequisite of the job, as well as the ability to self-edit effectively. Solid computer skills are necessary for any writer, especially freelance writers because they submit their work by e-mail or a web-based platform. Freelance jobs rely more on talent and the quality of the query or submission.
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