Freelance Writing For Pet Magazines

July 21, 2016
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Cat napping

You may be surprised to discover that the national directory of magazines for the United States lists over 18,000 magazines. Some of these magazines focus specifically on animals and pets, which makes them great markets.

However, pet magazines are just a piece of the market. A little creativity can go a long way in pet writing. Pets are a piece of almost everyone’s life and article possibilities abound for other national, regional or even trade magazines.

Market #1: Pet Magazine

You can find a magazine for almost every pet and every pet passion out there. Do you love cats and own a few? Magazines like Cat Fancy or Cat & Kitten will be a great market for you. Are you a horse fanatic? You could write for Equus. Do you know anything about sled dogs? How about writing for Mush? There’s a market for everyone’s fancy and the best place to start is with the magazines that are already on your coffee table.

What’s the pay like?

The pay for national pet magazines can vary greatly, anywhere from 10 cents to 50 cents word, but if you already have a good portfolio, you shouldn’t take less than 10 cents a word. This means that you could make anywhere from $50 to $1,200 for an article depending on its length and the pay scale.

Cats and dogs posing

What are editors interested in?

Let’s start with what editors are not interested in. Whatever you do, do not send an editor an article idea about your own pet. Pet magazine editors are absolutely deluged with personal stories about the best dog, cat or hamster ever. Editors especially don’t want stories about beloved animals that have died. You would not believe how many of these the poor editors have to wade through to get to a decent query. Don’t get yourself blacklisted!

Instead, investigate article ideas that involve the care of pets. This can include recent advances in health care, simple ways to keep your pet healthy, behavior articles or anything else that a reader might find not only interesting, but helpful and applicable to their own pet.

Events and famous personalities are also topics interesting to editors. How about the new night club downtown for dogs and their owners? Do you know someone famous who has a unique pet or a pooch that they absolutely adore? Readers may not want to hear about your dog, but they definitely want to know if Johnny Depp has a dog and how the famous pooch lives.

Dogs on a keyboard

Where do I find magazines to write for?

Start with the magazines on your own coffee table. Chances are you know what type of articles these magazines publish and what subjects the magazines have not covered recently. If you haven’t been paying attention, now is the time to start.

The next step is taking a trip to the library or surfing the Internet. Take a look at what magazines are available on pets and spend some time examining them. Jot down any story ideas that come to mind or any sections of the magazine that you think would be a nice fit for your writing.

Another option is to spend an afternoon in Barnes & Noble or another book superstore in your area with a large magazine section. Browse through all the animal magazines and take note of the ones that seem a good fit for your knowledge base and writing style. Better yet, pick up the ones that seem to be right for you and buy them. You’ll have them on hand to refer to when you are working on query letters and article ideas.

Writer’s Market is another place to examine the possibilities for pet magazine markets. However, this will only give you the guidelines for the magazines and may not cover all the magazines in circulation. You will still need to find sample issues to examine for style and content.

The Internet is a great place these days to find national magazines. Most national magazines have a website and post their guidelines and editorial calendars online. Even better, many magazines have a large selection of past articles archived for your perusal. This is a perfect way to see if your topic idea has been covered recently as well as to get ideas for other articles. At, we have an entire database of magazine submission guidelines that will help you research magazines that pay for pet-related articles.

What do I Send?

Parrot on a branch

Different magazines have different guidelines for how you should approach them with ideas. Some magazines prefer a one page query letter by mail. Others prefer you email ideas to them in brief. Some magazines prefer entire articles sent on speculation. Your best bet is to check online for their submissions guidelines.

If they are not available, e-mail the editor or editorial department, or send a self-addressed stamped envelope to the address in the masthead of the magazine with a request for their guidelines. Don’t call. The last thing you want to do is have an editor think you are a bother before you even get your foot in the door.

Market #2: General Interest

Although pet magazines are an obvious choice to send your submissions, many other magazines have room and interest in pet articles. Health magazines may be interested in an article on staying fit with your dog. Women’s magazines may be interested in how to introduce your children to their first puppy. Since almost everyone has pets, any new and scary dog disease might make a great article for a general audience. Just think about stories that would pique most anyone’s interest.

What’s the Pay Like?

Again the pay varies greatly, but “general interest” national magazines tend to pay better than pet magazines. Pay can be as high as $2 a word. (Think about it, $2,000 for a 1,000 word article!) However, the higher paying magazines are much harder to break into. You’ll need an excellent portfolio of impressive articles. However, there no reason you can’t build that portfolio or that you can’t take a shot at the best paying markets.

What are editors interested in?

National general interest magazines have a more varied audience, in that they are reading the magazine for many aspects other than pets. This means that you won’t win over the readers or the editor for that matter, if you don’t come up with a compelling idea that will interest everyone.

For instance, how to travel with a dog might not make a great query. However, how to vacation with the entire family including the pets and still stay sane, might make a killer query. Canine obesity may not be a compelling enough article, but how an entire family lost weight by dieting and exercising with their overweight Labrador would probably make a great article. Just like the pet magazines, general interest magazines are trying to engage their audience and you should try to do the same.

A horse and pony in a field

Where do I find them?

Again, start with your coffee table. Do you read Self, Woman’s Day, Redbook, or Oprah? How about Men’s Health? Keep your eyes open for pet pieces in the magazines that you enjoy and tear out those pages to save for your files. You should get a feel for what magazines are more likely to want a pet piece and what sort of pet piece might go over the best.

Again, check your library and book stores. Peruse the magazines for pet stories and take note. Some general interest magazines may almost never publish pet pieces and you probably don’t want to bother with these. Editors are ridiculously busy, but have memories like elephants. You don’t want to risk angering an editor by sending an entirely inappropriate query to them. Someday you may want to write a piece for them outside of the pet market.

What do I send?

Find their guidelines on the Internet or in Writer’s Market, in our Writer’s Guidelines Database, or send a self-addressed stamped envelope requesting them. You can find the address of where to send editorial requests in the masthead of most major magazines. I cannot mention this enough. Know the magazines and know their rules. Don’t waste your time or theirs. Most likely with major magazines they will want a query letter, but many magazines have even more specific guidelines and will spell out which sections of the magazine are open to freelancers and which you should not even bother trying to query.

Market #3: Regional Magazines

Become familiar with your regional magazines. They will be the best place to get clips if you are a new freelance writer and an easy place to give you an opportunity to write what you know. Down the road when you are writing for national publications, regional magazines could still be the money that pays your car payment or electricity bills for the month. Local editors love having local writers that they can depend on every issue. If you do a good job for a regional publication, they may call on you again and again.

What’s the pay like?

Regional magazines may pay anywhere from $50 to $500 for an article. It is unlikely you will get paid as well as you would for a national magazine, but considering you are frequently writing about your area and the things that you know, they are usually easy assignments. More importantly, you are likely to have a steady gig with a local editor who likes your work.

Cat and two ducklings on a bench

What are they interested in?

Regional magazines look for pieces with a local flavor. You are more likely to catch the editor’s eye with a piece that is about the local dog park that is opening rather than a general piece on dog parks. Is there a trend in your area? How about a list of all the places in town that have dog treats at the drive through? You may also have luck with a piece on a local celebrity and their favorite pet. These are the sort of stories a local magazine might be interested in.

How do I find them?

The best places to find regional magazines are your local book stores and grocery stores. If you are in an area that is rapidly growing in population, keep your eye out. Chances are if you don’t have a regional magazines there will be one forthcoming. If you live in the suburbs, also check regional magazine for the big cities nearest you. They may be interested in pieces that involve areas close by or you may be interested in investigating pet trends in the big city!

What do I send?

Chances are you won’t find submissions guidelines for regional magazines online or in the Writer’s Market. Your best bet is to send a self-addressed stamped envelope to the editorial address on the masthead. Once you have corresponded with the editor, it’s likely your dealings will be much less formal. However, just because you are working with a small magazine does not mean that you conduct yourself in any less professional of a manner.

Market #4: Trade Magazines

Trade magazines can be a great place to write for and they frequently pay more than regular magazines. You can find many magazines catering specifically to the pet market. If you know pet products and pay attention to trends, you can definitely be an asset to the magazine editors.

Three turtles playing

Trade magazines for other industries are worth considering for occasional pet writing as well. It takes a little more thinking to come up with great article ideas, but once you brainstorm some topics, you may be surprised at the possibilities. For example, a trucking industry magazine might have an article about how truckers can increase job satisfaction by bringing along a dog and how to accommodate a traveling pooch.

What’s the pay like?

Some trade magazines pay a similar amount to consumer magazines, but many pay as much as $2 a word. They are a good source to investigate when looking for a great pet writing gig.

What are they interested in?

Writing for pet trade magazines is different from writing for consumers. Remember that you are not writing to the people buying products, but to the folks who are selling them. Articles about trends in the market, ways to expand business and gain more customers, and general business topics are generally what editors are looking to publish. So rather than writing an article about the best cat food for a healthy cat, a trade magazine editor would be interested in an article about the trend in natural cat foods and why consumers are choosing them.

When writing for other trade magazines, consider the consumer trends that have to do with pets and report them to relevant trade magazines. Perhaps an article about the trend in organic meats in pet food to a beef trade magazine, for example. Remember who is reading the magazine and be sure to cater your article ideas to the readers.

Bunny and a cat

How do I find them?

The trade magazines are limitless and it can feel like overload trying to decide where to look. Consider industries that you are familiar with or that friends and family work in. If you have thoughts on articles for these trades, do a search on the internet to find correlating publications or ask your friends who work in the trade.

You can easily find pet trade magazines on the internet; they are not just
limited to pet products in general. You can find trade magazines for groomers, pet shop owners and veterinarians. These include Pet Age, Pet Product News and Pet Food Industry. Some may even offer free subscriptions through websites.

What do I send?

Check websites for submissions guidelines and the mastheads of magazines for the appropriate address and the managing editor. Chances are that pet trade publications are going to want an introductory letter, resume and clips to review if you would like to write for them regularly. You can also send a self-addressed stamped envelope with a request for guidelines.

About the author:

Portrait of Emily Flaherty

Emily Flaherty started her niche in writing about domestic and exotic pets while interning at her local zoo to become a conservation researcher. Since graduating in 2009 from the College of Natural Sciences at Colorado State University, she has had numerous articles and photos published in magazines, websites, and trade journals. This year she celebrated her fourth time traveling to South Africa.

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