Career Advice

Baby Talk: Writing for New Parents

By Grace Bello August 29th, 2012

What to expect when you’re expecting to write for parenting magazine editors? An emphasis on service, creativity, and humor. These editors want reports and essays that inform and delight the reader who, after all, has probably been up with baby for 24 hours straight. To that end, these mags often pay a dollar per word or more for timely stories that offer everyday, real-life solutions related to child rearing. In each pitch, they seek a unique concept, research that illustrates that the writer can get the story, and—for the web—social media sharing potential. The Freelance Strategist spoke with Executive Editor Michael Kress on the dos and don’ts of pitching his pub.

Help a mother out

“We are looking for—I put it into two categories. The first is service journalism: advice; tips; anything that will make Mom or Dad’s life easier, healthier, happier. The second is the more fun and social types of articles. Things that display some personality, that get at the emotion—whether it’s funny or heartfelt—of raising children.”

Plan the delivery

“When you pitch to us, tell us why we want it. Don’t assume that because you have a good idea, we’re going to jump at it. Is this a problem that you know is out there that needs to be solved? Let us know what the [online] search volume is around it, or how you would anticipate us driving an audience to it. ‘This would do well on Facebook because XYZ.’ Show us a little bit that you’ve thought through not just the topic but why we would want it and what we would do with it. Extra points to anyone who can make me laugh.”

“I don’t think you need to have written in the parenting space, but if you haven’t, we need to know what your sources are and how you’re going to do your research. We need to make sure that the voices and sources that you’re relying on for your story represent accepted, mainstream ways of looking at things that are in line with the values of Parents Magazine and Whether [the writer] is a parent themselves is irrelevant. We do like mom and dad bloggers. I think that they know the space really well, they know how to write for this audience, and they tend to have a nice touch. In particular, I would invite bloggers to pitch us stuff.”

Outgrow a too-broad pitch

“Don’t make it too general. The people who are on our site are parents or parents-to-be, and they know about the experience in a general sense. We’ve seen a lot of things that are so broad as to be meaningless. ‘How to have more fun with your kids.’ ‘How to get more sleep’…It’s very broad, and we are looking for pitches that go a couple of steps deeper, that are more specific and geared toward a specific piece of that topic or a specific way to approach it.”

Take baby steps with editors

“While we are very excited to take pitches from bloggers, another thing people should shy away from his pitching us blogs, unsolicited. We would much sooner take a handful of articles from you and then ease you into a blogger position. I’m unlikely to take a look at a blind pitch and be so wowed by it that I need to have you writing for me everyday off the bat. There might be exceptions, but by and large, we get a lot of pitches for a blog, and it seems to be a bit of jumping ahead of ourselves too quickly.”

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