11 Types of Magazine Articles to Write

what do I write about for a magazine?These 11 types of magazine articles to write include profiles, round ups, and ”how to” articles. Writers, use these tips to get more article assignments!

But first, a writing quip from Natalie Goldberg about writing discipline — because having the discipline to write is the key to a successful writing career

“I hear people say they’re going to write. I ask, when? They give me vague statements,” writes Goldberg in Thunder and Lightning: Cracking Open the Writer’s Craft. “Indefinite plans get dubious results.”

Make a writing schedule, fellow scribes, and stick to it. Boring advice…but it works. If you want to write all types of articles for magazines, read Writer’s Digest Handbook of Magazine Article Writing. It’s got everything you need!

And, read on for eleven types of articles to write for magazines….

The How-to article

Examples: “How to Make Money Blogging for Writers” or “How Freelance Writers Earn a $100,000 Every Year” or “How to Fix Writer’s Block and Make Your Writing Sparkle.” How to’s are my favorite type of feature articles — they simply tell readers how to do something.

How-to magazine articles:

  • Make a rousing promise of success
  • Describe what you need in easy to follow instructions
  • Give step-by-step directions (sometimes with subtitles)
  • Include shortcomings or warnings
  • Tell how to locate supplies
  • Give proofs and promises
  • Make referrals to other sources

The Profile or the Interview

Examples: “The Real Natalie Goldberg and Her Real Writing Career” or “Anne Lamott Shares Her Secret Writing Tips and Tricks.” Profiles and interview are two different types of magazine articles to write.

Profile and interview articles:

  • Have different definitions. In a profile, you use additional sources, such as friends, family, kids, neighbors, colleagues. In a profile, you interview the source him or herself.
  • Can have a theme or focus.
  • Can be presented as a “Q & A” or a written article.
  • Require strong interviewing skills for the “best” information

The Informative or Service Article

Examples: “How to Write Query Letters for Magazines” or “When to Find an Agent for Your Book” or “Writing Quips and Tips From Stephen King.”

Help for Writers and Bloggers

75 Ways to Make Money Blogging - How I made $60,000 last year with my Quips and Tips blogs. If you love to write, why not pay yourself?

73 Tips for Firing Up (or Just Firing!) the Muse- Because a writer's biggest struggle is motivation & persistence.

Informative or service articles:

  • Focus on one unique aspect, or the “handle”
  • Describe what-to, how-to, when-to, why-to, etc.
  • Answer the journalist’s who, what, when, where, why, and how questions
  • Can end with a “how-to” piece as a sidebar

The Exposé

Examples: “Stephen King’s Ghostwriter Reveals Secret Writing Career” or “95% of Natalie Goldberg’s Writing is From a Ghostwriter!” Those aren’t actual feature articles — an expose is simply a type of magazine article.

The exposé article:

  • Shocks or surprises readers
  • Includes statistics, quotes, anecdotes
  • Can range from how extension cords can kill to new info on Watergate

The Human Interest article

Examples: “Anne Lamott Share Her Experience as a Single Working Writer” or “Mark Twain’s Great-Grandaughter Finds Her Writing Niche.” This type of feature article interests the majority of readers of a particular magazine.

Human interest articles:

  • Usually start with an anecdote
  • Are often chronologically organized

The Essay or Opinion Piece

Examples: “What I Think of Natalie Goldberg’s Decision to Retire From Her Writing Career” or “Anne Lamott’s Writing Mistakes.”

Essay or opinion articles:

  • Usually revolve around an important or timely subject (if they’re to be published in a newspaper or “serious” magazine)
  • Are harder to sell if you’re an unknown or unpublished writer
  • Can be found on blogs all over the internet!

Humor or Satire (difficult types of magazines articles to write)

Examples:  ”Ode to Stephen King’s Typewriter” or “What Natalie Goldberg Wore When She Started Her Writing Career.”

Humor or satire articles:

  • Usually have a specific audience, such as the readers of The Onion
  • Are usually written on spec (that is, you submit the whole article before the editors or publishers will accept it)

The Inspirational Article

Examples: “How You Can Change the World With Your Writing Career” or “13 Tips to Improve Your Writing Confidence.” This is probably my second most favorite type of feature article to write.

Inspirational articles:

  • Describe how to feel good or how to do good things
  • Can describe how to feel good about yourself – this type of article can work for anyone from writers to plumbers to pilots
  • Offer a moral message
  • Focus on the inspirational point

The Historical Article

Examples: “The Typewriter Mark Twain First Used” or “How Freelance Writers Once Submitted Articles.”

Historical articles:

  • Reveal events of interest to millions (which means at least one of my examples wouldn’t work as this type of article)
  • Focus on a single aspect of the subject
  • Are organized chronologically
  • Tell readers something new
  • Go beyond history to make a current connection

The Round-Up (one of my favorite types of magazine articles to write)

Examples: “12 Fiction Writing Tips From Authors and Editors” or “1,001 Types of Articles to Write for Magazines.” This is my favorite type of feature article to write.

Round-up articles:

  • Gather a collection from many sources
  • Focus on one theme
  • Offer quotations, opinions, statistics, research studies, anecdotes, recipes, etc.

Research Shorts for the “Front of the Book”

Examples: “How Alliteration Affects Your Memory” or “What Anne Lamott’s Writing Does to Your Brain Waves.” Shorts aren’t really a type of magazine article, but they’re a great way to get your foot in the door and learn what articles editors will pay to publish!

Research shorts:

  • Describe current scientific information
  • Are usually less than 250 words long
  • Are often written on spec (at least by me)
  • Are fast, effective ways to earn money as a freelance writer – if you can find the right markets

If you’re wondering if you can make it as a writer, read 6 Tips for Living Off the Feast and Famine of Freelance Writing.

Thoughts or questions about writing these types of feature articles? Comments welcome below…

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21 Reader Comments

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  1. Albanus Njoroge says:

    I finally found inspiration, thanks to your invaluable work. I must admit i was stuck in my second assignment of my creative writing distance learning course from Writers bureau UK. I reside in Nairobi, Kenya

  2. Amandah says:

    Thank for you for this extensive list. I have a couple of magazines that I’d like to pitch. These will come in handy.

  3. Moses Ombogo says:

    Thanks for your good work.I have really benefited in my research.Iam an up-coming journalist student at Mt Kenya university in Thika.Keep it up!

  4. Thanks for your comments, Phoebe! I’ve been to Thika, in Kenya :-) I lived in Nairobi for three years, teaching at Rosslyn Academy. My close friend went to church in Thika, and I went with her a couple times. Thika sorta scared me a little, but my friend was totally at home there.

    Good like with your writing and journalism career!

  5. phoebe wanjohi from Thika Kenya says:

    Writing feature articles is one of my favourite unit so far in journalism and mass media.Reading your work has helped me move a step ahead

  6. phoebe wanjohi says:

    its great work that you are doing.I have learnt alot from you

  7. Thanks for your comment; I appreciate it! I taught feature and magazine writing to high school students, and wish I had this information back then. :-)

  8. Abas_id. says:

    I’v bn teaching feature & magazine article writing for some time now, but I find your post quite insightful.

  9. Chicago Blogger, I’m glad this article is helpful, and appreciate your feedback! :-)
    .-= Laurie Pawlik-Kienlen´s last blog post ..Starting a Magazine Writing Career – How to Make Money as a Freelancer =-.

  10. This post is a good resource for brainstorming ideas for new articles… quite helpful. thanks!
    .-= Chicago Blogger´s last blog post ..Training for Feature Writing =-.

  11. Ellie Campbell says:

    My dream is to write a feature magazine article that is on the front cover of Oprah Magazine. Thanks for this writing information, because it helped me figure out what type of article to write!

    Ellie C.

  12. Laurie PK says:

    Thanks for taking the time to comment, Sarah — and I love the title of your last blog post.
    .-= Laurie PK´s last blog post ..Quips and Tips From J.K. Rowling =-.

  13. Sarah says:

    Thanks for the great article! It’s sooo helpful and informative.
    .-= Sarah´s last blog post ..Write Often = Write Well =-.

  14. Laurie PK says:

    Thanks for your comment, Lisa — I appreciate the specific, positive feedback!
    .-= Laurie PK´s last blog post ..8 Different Tips for Promoting Your Blog =-.

  15. Great post! Thanks for the information, very helpful. Btw, I discovered your site and blog last week and I’m quite impressed. Love the clarity and forthrightness in everything you write. It is appreciated!
    .-= Lisa (lablady)´s last blog post ..The Importance Of Laughter =-.

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