Hats off to all of you inspired to write about lifestyle. It’s a fabulous subject area loaded with possibility. Of course, there are already a whole lot of articles written and published every day covering everything from food to health to travel and beyond. But, I’m very glad that fact isn’t dissuading you.
Your story will be at least as readable as anyone else’s. But, before your story is published in a magazine, you have to do a little homework.
What is lifestyle, anyway?
Lifestyle topics cover a whole range of activities and aspects that people engage in every day of their lives. In figuring out which lifestyle topic to write about, look close to home.
What do you really love to do? Whatever it is, you probably hav an original take on the activity. Are you a diehard magazine lover who only reads them back to front? Write about it! Maybe you’ve found an efficient and environmentally-friendly way of keeping your home clean and tidy. Tell the world!
I have no doubt that you have something interesting and worthwhile to say about it. Deciding whether to write about your favourite family recipes or learning to swim in the Mediterranean is easy if you look inward. Approach the topic from your own unique point of view, and you won’t go wrong. One of the biggest problems that writers run into is that their perspective is too general. You can circumvent that snag by focussing on your own particular thoughts and experiences.
Who is your audience?
Now that you know what you’re going to write about, how do you mould it to your audience? Start by deciding which magazines you’d like to pitch to. Then, read the submission guidelines. If they prefer first person accounts, structure your idea around your own experiences. Otherwise, think about who you should interview. Including interviews doesn’t necessarily make your story less about you. The quotes you include serve to add depth to your own experiences and thoughts on the topic.
When writing for a specific audience you’ll have to consider your language and tone. You’ll know what I mean when you flip through the magazine you’ve targeted. Is the word choice formal or informal? You just need to do the same.
There is one more important step you need to accomplish before you begin writing your article. You have to pitch your idea to the magazine editor.
- Rule #1 Write your pitch in the same style and tone used in the magazine.
- Rule #2 Get to the point. Quickly. In a short paragraph, tell the editor about your unique idea and how it can be of interest to the magazine’s readers.
- Rule #3 Editors are busy. Don’t expect a reply the same day or even the same month, in some cases. You may have to follow up with a second email and maybe even a phone call after a week or two. Above all, be polite no matter what.
And keep trying. Just because your idea is met with a rejection – or worse, silence – it does not mean your idea is not a good one. Keep pitching those editors. One of them somewhere, at some point, will see your story’s value.
What do magazine editors want, anyway?
Editor expectations may seem mysterious. You’ve done your research. You’ve pitched your stories, and you’re still not able to get even a nibble.
First, review your pitch. Is it short? Attention-grabbing? Written in the publication’s style?
If you’ve done all of that, and you still can’t entice the editor to accept your idea, move on. There are a ton of magazines out there for you to try. Pitches are rarely accepted on the first submission, so don’t feel bad. It’s also not necessarily a reflection on the quality of your idea.
It can, however, have something to do with saturation. Everyone seems to have a lifestyle angle. Lifestyle stories are popular because we can all relate. That’s one reason the genre is so packed with people pitching their ideas. You really have to mine deep within your own thoughts and experiences to arrive at something truly unique.
One final word…
When you’re ready to write that article, you’ll need to factor in whether it will be published online or in print. The actual structure of the article will change based on that choice.
Writing for an online audience means including a lot of white space. Short paragraphs – sometimes only a sentence long – are totally acceptable, add impact to whatever you’re writing about, and make reading on a screen much easier. In print, the opposite is often true.
Not sure if you’ve mastered the difference? Read What Is Online Editing?
Remember, details are at the heart of a great lifestyle article. Using anecdotes and lots of descriptive language will inspire your readers to stick with you to the end of the story.
Over to you: tell me about what you love about lifestyle magazines.