Spill It: What’s On Your Magazine Bucket List?

After resigning from YourTango, and before my time there was even up, I started making plans.

I secured a writing partner who could keep me accountable as I worked my way through several information products. I invested in some educational materials, and a new resume, in the interest of building my business. I even got some professional head shots done up.

All of these were things that would help me earn money in the long run.

But short-term? The best thing I did was to set a weekly query goal for myself, and to start meeting that goal even before I’d left my part-time, permalance gig.

The results? Though I’m only about three weeks into my post-YourTango life, I’ve already secured seven magazine assignments, snagged one rush copy editing project, am in talks regarding three, large ebook projects, and have been invited to lunch by a magazine editor at a national magazine.

I’m thrilled, of course. Without my monthly check, I need to hustle a whole lot more in order to bring in the bucks.

But my reclaimed writerly life has done more than force me to hustle. It’s inspired me to start re-pitching magazines I haven’t queried in at least four years (and lemme tell you… four years ago, my portfolio was crap; I’m thinking that, these days, I’ll have a much higher chance of breaking in).

The magazines I’ve been flipping through are scattered throughout my condo. They’re piled up beside the toilet. They’re leaning up against each other at the head of my bed. They’re in stacks on my desk, and multiplying in my desk drawers.

Many of them comprise my magazine bucket list.

Among them? Bitch and BUST, despite their low pay rates. (Please. I’d like to see my byline in those pages just once.) And Marie Claire.

What’s on your magazine bucket list? Which ones have you already checked off?

Related: How To Pitch: The Basics, Better Than Money,


  1. You’re on fire! Go, Steph! 🙂

    My bucket list: Glamour, Real Simple, Writer’s Digest. I’m working on a couple of queries right now, one which will go out to some bigger national mags like Glamour, and one which I’m sending to a local mag, Rhode Island Monthly. I’m also looking into B2B and trade mags. What I really need to do is get into a routine like you’ve set up for yourself. I’m at the tail end of Linda Formichelli’s mag writing class, so once it wraps up I think I’ll set up a querying goal to keep myself writing & pitching.

  2. I love this! And I need to take similar steps now that I’m self-employed. I’ve been using these first couple weeks to establish a schedule and lay out a plan. On my list are O the Oprah magazine, Bon Appetit, Marie Claire, and Saveur. Also Latina. Not quite the same thing, but in the same vein, I’d like to get myself on LXTV and some local morning shows doing cooking demo segments.

  3. I don’t really have a bucket list per se. But then again, I have never gotten into a national magazine before. I am starting out from scratch over the last year, and magazines do not like to take a risk on people that haven’t already proven they are influential or famous in some field or another already.

    So, I continue to think very, very small in terms of what magazines to even bother pitching to. It seems a bit pipe-dreamish to go after the big ones.

    And even if I did, I honestly can’t say I have a bucket list. Might be fun to just create one though, even though I don’t have a prayer of getting into any.

    • Let’s see some optimism, Ty! Though I must say, there’s nothing wrong with starting small. A lot of my print magazine work has been done for regional publications.

      When I’m brainstorming story ideas, I like to draw up a list of possible publications to pitch them to. Then I aim for the biggest one first. If it doesn’t stick, no worries. I just move on to the next one on my list!

      • I try to be optimistic, and I think for the most part I am. And it would be great to appear in a large magazine like Esquire, or Psychology Today or something. But I do know my reputation is just not strong enough for such big places yet. So I am starting small. (Even though many people say if you appear in a small magazine too many times, you have killed you chances of ever appearing in a big one, which makes very little sense to me.)

        I will say that coming up with unique ideas for magazine of ANY size and circulation is a bit difficult for me. Probably because I don’t know enough interesting people. But even when I get ideas, I am not sure which ones would suit which magazines.

  4. Steph, I can so relate to this!! In fact, I’m hoping to spend a weekend sorting through my magazine piles and getting caught up on reading, because I tend to get sucked into web assignments that take me away from querying my dream markets because I already have those editorial relationships and it’s easier to get those assignments.

    I have a short coming out in BUST this summer (fingers crossed that nothing happens in the interim), but I’d love to break into Marie Claire someday. I’d also love to write a feature for SELF (so far I’ve only written shorts for them), and an essay for the New York Times’ Modern Love column or Boston Globe Magazine’s Coupling column. Women’s Health, Fast Company, INC, and Entrepreneur are also on my list (though I did write an online article for the now defunct WomenEntrepreneur.com, which is under the Entrepreneur umbrella or publications).

  5. I love this question and the encouragement for querying more! Setting a weekly goal is a great idea. Top of my bucket list are: Ode Magazine, The Village Voice and *swoon* NYT Magazine (Lives column anyone?).

  6. CONGRATS!!! WOW, what a “to-do” list. Very inspiring.

    My list: Real Simple, Whole Living, Garden & Gun, Brain Child Magazine. I have queries started and saved in my drafts folder, but none polished enough to hit send. You just gave me motivation (thanks).

  7. I’m in a similar boat as you–I kind of took a break from pitching magazines last year and want to make a huge point of getting back into them.

    My bucket list includes Real Simple, Marie Claire, Self, and Glamour. Also Writer’s Digest & Latina, which I’ve written for before, but haven’t pitched in about a year. Gotta jump back in there!

    It’s awesome and really to hear you’re doing so well! Congrats!

  8. I love reading everyone’s bucket lists. And knowing all y’all, I’m sure the items on them will get checked off sooner rather than later. There’s a lot of good energy and intention in this comments section and — forgive me for getting all woo-woo on you — but sometimes that can be magic.

  9. Hey, Steph. I just stumbled upon your blog and have really enjoyed all your tips and insights. Sometimes it’s difficult to feel part of larger community, and draw the needed support from it, when you’re working at home. Are you planning another virtual networking night anytime soon?

    As for pubs I’d like to break into, I love cycling, so am currently pitching Bicycling. Also on the bucket list are Self, Real Simple and other outdoor/adventure pubs. I’m trying to break in with front-of-book pitches, though it’s hard to find newsy items that really knock the socks off! After a break from freelancing and a layoff from my 9-5, I’m trying to get back into freelancing.

  10. I’m big into Bitch, Bust, Shape, Fitness, etc (not beauty/fashion women’s magazines).


    Our of curiosity, how many queries are you sending a week (sorry if you have said before, I can’t remember for the life of me. Brain fry apparently). 🙂

    • Hey there Elisa – Thanks for sharing! Since I’m juggling a few different things, I’ve set my weekly query goal pretty low: just one a week. Oftentimes, however, I find myself inspired to send out even more.

      Then there are weeks like this one, when I struggle to put together just one, non-lame query for a particular publication!

Speak Your Mind