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July 18, 2022 —

How to pitch your magazine feature ideas

91 Magazine editor Caroline Rowland explains the best way for writers, photographers and illustrators to pitch editorial ideas to the magazine
91 Magazine editor Caroline Rowland
Caroline Rowland
91 Magazine
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Unbelievably it was five years ago when I first wrote a guide about pitching your magazine feature ideas to us! I know many of you have found this a useful resource, so I thought it was about time I updated it as things are often changing and evolving.

This information is for writers, photographers and illustrators who are interested in contributing editorial content to 91 Magazine on a freelance basis. If you are a small business owner or brand who is interested in being featured in the magazine or online, then please check out our Get Featured page, as well as the information on advertising options.

So, if you’d love to write, shoot or illustrate for us, then below is a little more information on how we work here at 91 Magazine. Some of this will be relevant to all magazines, some is specific to us, but it should hopefully give you an overall understanding and a bit of guidance on how to approach our team as well as other editorial teams.

91 Content 018 Jemma Watts
Photo: Jemma Watts

Be aware of independent magazine budgets

ALL magazine budgets are tight, or at least that’s what I learnt during my time freelancing; and as a small independent magazine, the budget is even more limited. But, we do pay a small fee and we aim to always pay promptly, so you shouldn’t have to chase up payments (I’ve been there and know how frustrating it is to spend your time just trying to get paid).

I still run the magazine from home – we don’t have a big publishing firm behind us, so we are very much a small business producing what is quite a high cost product with a low margin. I always want to be open and transparent with potential contributors about this, as I know it is not doable for everyone, so this is worth considering before you pitch.

Our team have the utmost respect for the creatives we work with, and while we might not be able to match fees with other publications, we hope that the experience of working with us is a good one. From time to time, the relationships we’ve built have led to other great projects and I am constantly recommending our contributors to others in the industry and the small business community.

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Photo: Georgia de Lotz

Get to know the magazine and content

It may seem hard to believe, but I occasionally get emails from people who want to contribute, but have clearly never laid eyes on the magazine, apart from possibly spotting a pic of it on Instagram! Before even thinking of ideas to pitch, make sure you know the magazine really well. Most magazines will have a content structure that they adhere to each issue, so you’ll be able to see a pattern for the regular features and the types of topics and style of article they run.

The majority of 91 Magazine focusses on spaces – homes, shops, cafes, restaurants, creative workspaces etc. – so for example, it is unlikely we will run a feature solely on an online business, although if the owner of that online business has a lovely home, this could work for a home tour. If you have a great idea but aren’t sure it would fit in the magazine, then please feel free to suggest it anyway, as it might suit our blog or e-zine instead. (Again, make sure to get to know our online content too!)

Plan ahead

All magazines work quite far in advance, most are putting together their Christmas editions in the summer or even sooner. At 91, we publish two print editions a year – publishing in April and October. That means we are planning each issue at least six months in advance. So for our April issue, we start planning the content in early autumn, and for the October issue, early spring. But don’t feel tied to only pitching at these certain times of the year, as I am always open to ideas and you never know when we have a gap that needs filling or sometimes your ideas spark other ideas for us and great things can happen!

how to pitch feature ideas 91 magazine
Photo: Rachel Walker / Little Beacon

Join our mailing lists

Signing up for our regular emails is a good way to stay informed about what is happening here at 91. We have such a great creative community surrounding the magazine and as social media is sadly losing some of that community feel that we all loved it for, I want to make our email group a more central part of what we do, bringing our readers together. You can join this list here. 

We also have a separate contributors mailing list, which is solely for those writers, photographers and illustrators who create editorial and blog content for us. So even if you do not have a specific idea to pitch, but you believe your work is suitable for 91, you can request to join this list.

Basically, this is how I communicate with our contributors as a group to let them know when we are looking for pitches, or when we need a contributor to take on a feature we’ve planned. It’s a way to keep you abreast of the projects we are planning generally. You can request to be added to this, by emailing me ([email protected]) and telling me a little bit about your work, with links to examples.

P4220367Write a short synopsis and share visuals

Once you are ready to submit your ideas, then it’s simply a case of popping me an email. Please do not send pitches via Instagram direct message. Below are a few tips depending on which discipline you work in…

  • Writers – you may have an idea but don’t have professionally shot photographs. That is totally fine, but it is ideal if you can provide some kind of visuals, whether they are snapshots, a link to images online, or an Instagram page. Great photography is paramount for us, so it’s worth considering whether it’s a space that we might be able to arrange to shoot or if there are existing professional images that we can get permission to use.
  • Photographers – If you’ve got a shoot you’d like to share then low res files initially are fine, along with some details of the space and its owner. If you’d like to pitch a space to shoot that is great, but again, it would be ideal if you can give us some visuals to look at to see if it will be suitable.
  • Illustrators – It’s slightly different for illustrators as you are not required to pitch an idea. We commission illustrations to accompany features that we have planned. Please do just get in touch with a link to your work and if suited to our editorial style, you will be added to our contributor’s mailing list. When we start planning an issue, we then ask everyone to register their interest in working on that issue, and I will select suitable illustrators from that group depending on the features that need artwork.

Don’t be disheartened

Please don’t get disheartened if your first idea is not accepted. Sometimes we may have already ran a similar feature, or it’s just not the right fit. Do feel free to submit more ideas and hopefully we can find the right thing to work on together.

If you haven’t already done so, there is a little more info on our website about contributing to 91 Magazine.

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