Whether you are a small business owner running your own brand or a creative freelancer, getting your work featured in a print magazine can feel like a special moment. I remember the thrill of seeing my first published work in print, seeing it on the newsstand and knowing that other people would be reading it over their Sunday morning coffee. It’s a total buzz.
But, if the world of media is a little alien to you, the idea of how to go about getting featured can be bewildering and daunting. One of the things I’ve discovered during my time publishing 91 Magazine, is that people are often unsure about the ways you can get involved with a magazine – either getting your business featured or creating work as a contributor. I’ve found there is sometimes confusion over what is free PR (an editorial opportunity), what is paid work (a freelance opportunity) and what is a paid-for opportunity (advertising).
These three things may seem relatively clear once written down like this, but there is some uncertainty when it comes to what is involved in each of these types of opportunity. I’ve noticed that social media and the world of online influencing has skewed understanding as there is the assumption that print media is the same as social media, but in reality, it is quite different.
So, I thought it might be useful to share some insight into this and explain exactly what is involved with each type of opportunity to help anyone who’d like to see their work published and hopefully allow you to make informed decisions on how to go about it and which might be the right route for you.
AN EDITORIAL OPPORTUNITY
When we talk about editorial content, simply put, this is the articles and features that make up the majority of the magazine (although there are some publications where it feels like there is more advertising than editorial!) This content is crafted by the editorial team – they will generally be coming up with a content plan and then working to bring everything together, commissioning the copy (the words) and the photography or illustration, editing everything and then creating beautiful layouts ready for print.
Most editors will be open to receiving pitches (the submission of ideas to be considered for a feature) from both writers, photographers and business owners, too. More on this in the section below.
If you are a business owner or creative who is approached by a magazine to be the subject of an editorial feature, this is free PR and can be beneficial for your brand, whether it is in print or online. You do not have to pay to be part of the feature and you will not be paid either. It is kind of a mutual agreement that you will get some lovely PR where you’ll have your business, your products, and/or your story shared with the publication’s readership, and the magazine will gain a great feature that they know their readers will enjoy. Quite often this will be written in third person or in interview format by a writer or journalist, so you will likely be asked to give a phone or email interview so the writer can learn about you and your story. Or, it may be that they simply request a high res image of a product to be included in a shopping feature.
An editorial feature, whether it’s online or in print, is not a brand collaboration or a sponsored feature. On social media, most influencers will generally be working for brands, and creating content (usually images/videos etc) to promote the brand, so in this case, they should rightly be paid for their time and creativity. But, unless the magazine has asked you to write the feature for them, then for an editorial feature where you, your business or your products will be featured and possibly your story told, there is no payment involved. Apart from the likes of Hello and OK magazine, even well-known celebrities will not receive payment for giving an interview as they are most likely promoting their latest film, book or fashion line through the editorial feature, so it is therefore a PR opportunity.
AN EDITORIAL FREELANCE OPPORTUNITY
This kind of opportunity is generally reserved for professional writers, photographers and illustrators, working in the media industry. They are freelance creatives who make a living from feature writing, shooting editorial features or creating an illustration to accompany an editorial feature.
Here at 91 Magazine, we have a large pool of contributors who work with us to create the editorial content you see in the magazine and on our blog and e-zine. We will commission them to write, photograph or illustrate a feature for us and they are paid to do so.
We have a contributor mailing list which is how we communicate with this group of freelancers and this list is specifically for those who work in this field. This is not open to small business owners who would like to see their business / work featured.
Writers and photographers are welcome to pitch feature ideas to us about homes, studios, shops etc and if suitable, we will then commission them to work on the feature.
Small business owners are also welcome to pitch to us about their own brand, particularly if they have a beautiful space they feel is suitable, but this will be handled as an editorial opportunity – as per above section. We would then assign a writer and photographer (unless suitable existing photography is available) to produce the editorial.
The exception to this is if a small business owner pitches an editorial feature idea about something they have expert knowledge in and they are prepared to write it in a non-biased way, as in not as a way to solely promote their own business. Ideally they would also have some experience in writing. A recent example is this blog post by vintage shop owner Michelle Mason, who shared her insight with our readers on how to run a vintage business.
AN ADVERTISING OPPORTUNITY
If you are a small business owner and are keen to see your brand in your favourite magazine or reach the audience of specific magazines, then going down the paid advertising route is an option.
Yes, of course an editorial feature would be ideal, as it wouldn’t cost you anything and it may give you the chance to tell your story, but these opportunities are sometimes harder to come by. Even if you are proactive and approach lots of editors, it might not be the right time or the right fit for their issue themes, for example.
At 91, we only publish the print magazine twice a year, meaning editorial opportunities are relatively limited, so while we may like to feature you at some point, it might not be for another 6-12 months or more, so if you would love to get your brand on our pages sooner, then a paid ad space is an alternative option that gives you more control in terms of when it will feature.
There are some magazines that might offer the promise of editorial coverage if you advertise with them, however this isn’t something we do at 91. Advertising is handled differently across all publications, so do be aware that some titles may approach you with a lack of transparency, initially making it sound like they want to ‘feature’ you, but in fact they are selling you an ad space. If in doubt, be sure to ask.
This isn’t a tactic we employ, and we are always open and honest about what we are offering. We want to make print advertising accessible to small brands, so our pricing is more affordable that the mainstream titles and we work closely with you to get the best from your investment.
Hopefully this has helped to clarify the various ways you can work with a magazine or get featured and what to expect. Remember – magazine editors and journalists are actively seeking out interesting stories and people to feature on their pages, so never feel worried about making the first move if you think you are the right fit, either as someone to be featured or as a freelance contributor.
If you are a small business owner and would like to know more about getting your brand featured in the press, do check out my 90 minute Creative Session online workshop here.