Time, time, time…What is it with time?  To the great physicists of our day, like Stephen Hawking and Michio Kaku the question of time spans discussions of the cosmos, quantum entanglement, and wormholes–pretty much things that I can only somewhat make sense of by watching Fringe (Woo hoo! I love that show).

But for the everyday person it’s a concept that seems to be fleeting as our days are filled with mundane tasks (like balancing our finances and grocery shopping) to exciting goals (like saving for a new home and planning to start a family)—whatever it is time simply flies by.  And we can’t seem to get a handle on it.  I know like most people, I’m always trying to do as much as I can every day.  Sometimes I fall short and other days I amaze myself by how much I’ve accomplished.  As a magazine writer, I’m always adding more to my plate to diversify my portfolio–enrolling in writing courses, connecting with fellow writers, and pitching ideas to new magazines.

At first, pitching new magazines took a lot of my time.  Because I was look at back issues to get a feel for the type of stories they printed, and I was trying to find out information about the readership: average income, average age, and gender (i.e. Are the readers mostly female or males?).

Why is this important to know?

Well, for starters let say you want to write a piece about trendy places to eat for a local magazine.  Without the background information, your pitch may be great but if the magazine’s readers are mainly women who are married with children–with an average household income of 60K–then trendy restaurants may not be a good idea for this magazine.

Here are some quick ways to help you identify if your idea is good for a magazine’s target audience:

  • Sometimes magazines publish their readership stats on their website.  But rather than visiting each website and trying to locate where this information might be, I prefer to use a one-stop shop like Echo Media, which is a site for advertising companies.  It’s packed with helpful stats that help me readily identify a magazine’s audience (click here to see an example). Bonus: And if that wasn’t great enough, you can also use this site to discover new markets.  One of the ways you can search for information is by clicking on categories such as media (i.e. newspapers) or demographics (i.e. seniors) to display a sample of your search query.  To have full access you need to register, which I haven’t done because they do offer a lot of information without having to register.
  • If I can’t find the magazine I need (which is rare) then I opt to view the magazine’s cover by checking it out on Amazon’s website. Another option is to swing by the library or bookstore.  That old adage “Don’t judge a book by its cover” doesn’t really apply in every instance, especially when it comes to making decisions about magazines.  You can tell a lot about a magazine’s cover.  Here’s a quick approach to making a judgement call about a magazine just based on its cover:
  1. What are the article titles listed on the cover?  For example – Jeans for every shape under $100; Save by Swapping Gear with Gal Pals — If I was looking to write for more budget-conscious consumers then I’d pitch to the second magazine, which clearly looks for ways to save money.
  2. Who is on the cover of the magazine? Is it Kate Hudson, Susan Sarandon, or Will and Jada Smith – the celebrity cover person(s) will tell you about the reader’s average age, their marital status, which will help hone your pitch.

Have you pitched articles that missed the mark because it didn’t target the magazine’s audience?  Do you have some time-saving tips on how to identify who a magazine’s readership is? If so, I’d love to hear about it.