What does a Freelance Magazine Writer do?

G. Wiesen

A freelance magazine writer writes articles to be published in one or more magazines, often without a set contract and is usually not a regular employee of a magazine. Freelance writers are typically hired by publications or websites to write articles, but they are not regular employees regarding issues such as benefits, schedules, offices, or other aspects of standard employment. A freelance magazine writer may work from home or a small office and will usually look for magazines that are in need of additional articles beyond what the regular staff writers are producing for a given period of time.

A freelance magazine writer should keep a notebook to write down ideas for later development.
A freelance magazine writer should keep a notebook to write down ideas for later development.

Among the various duties of a freelance magazine writer are finding a story to write about, doing the research necessary to write an article, writing the article and revising it so it is ready for publication. Some magazines may have specific stories in mind that they need a freelance writer to look into and write, while others will just need to fill space or a regular thematic segment and need someone to write the article. In either case, a freelance writer will get the details on the article, such as length and the tone of the piece, and research the information needed to write it. Then the writer will write and revise the article, until finally submitting it for publication by the magazine.

A freelance magazine writer is generally only paid for a specified number of articles.
A freelance magazine writer is generally only paid for a specified number of articles.

One major difference between staff writers at a magazine and a freelance magazine writer is the type of contract and agreement that the writer has with the publication. A staff writer will usually have a contract for at-will employment with a magazine; this will often include a required number of articles per month or year, specific pay and benefits, and provisions regarding offices and other work expenses. The contract a freelance magazine writer will have with a publication, however, typically only entails the type of work expected from the writer and the payment to the writer for a specific article or number of articles.

A freelance magazine writer may write for several magazines at a time.
A freelance magazine writer may write for several magazines at a time.

Most freelance writers for magazines do not receive benefits such as health insurance or retirement programs through the magazine. While this may reduce the financial gains of a freelance magazine writer, it also typically affords greater freedom for the writer as well. A freelance writer is not tied to a specific magazine and may work for several magazines at once, providing articles to numerous publications. Though the contract that a freelance writer has with a publication may include non-competition agreements that prevent the writer from working with certain other magazines while working on an article, this is often easy to work within.

Most freelance magazine writers work from home, although some may rent officespace.
Most freelance magazine writers work from home, although some may rent officespace.

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Discussion Comments

literally45

@SteamLouis-- Absolutely. A magazine writer has to be creative, especially if he or she is working freelance. Regular writing staff of a magazine usually have their own columns and can be given more liberty about the kind of things they want to write about. But since freelance writers are hired to "fill in the empty spaces" so to speak, they don't have too many choices in terms of topic. Usually a magazine will tell the freelancer about the theme or topic for that week and ask him or her to write something suitable.

SteamLouis

I would love to be a freelance magazine writer, and I've applied to a few magazines in the past too. The issue has always been that the kind of writing I do did not fit the format of the magazine or the particular topic they were looking for. I guess a freelance magazine writer needs to be very flexible and write in a variety of styles and on a variety of topics. Otherwise, it's difficult to get work.

donasmrs

Although being a freelance magazine article is not a permanent job with benefits, it's a great way to get one's name out there. If the content is good, I think that magazines will be interested in working with the same writer in the future. And they may even offer to make them a permanent writer as staff.

Many of the freelance magazine writers I know, are not working for one specific magazine, but many different ones. They apply to openings, or sometimes, people will recommend each other. I actually think that writing for several magazines is better since the content will be reaching a greater number of people and more readers will become familiar with the writer's work and name.

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