In a previous post, I wrote that as a freelance writer you need to know your reader. Some aspects of knowing your reader are obvious–the region the publication covers, the topic of the publication or the age of the target audience. For instance, it’s quite obvious that Modern Farmer is read by farmers or farmer wannabe’s and that Woman’s Day is read by women. But if you want to know if “Fifteen Uses for Used Teabags” is a good fit for Good Housekeeping, you need to look a little closer to the details.
Here are a few ways to define a publication’s audience and thereby know what your editor is looking for.
3 Ways to Define a Publication’s Audience
Check the media kit.
Most publications have a media kit. Look for it on their website. This handy document is designed for advertisers but you can learn a lot from it. In the media kit you will find reader demographics like age, income bracket or household size. Generally you will find the media kit listed in the footer of the website.
Read the advertisements.
I am taking for credit that you have already read several issues of the magazine you are contemplating submitting to. If not, walk away from this blog post right now and go do that. If you have, did you read the ads? You can learn a lot about the publication’s audience from the advertising. For instance, are Rolex watches and Coach handbags advertised in the magazine? If so, forget your reusable teabag article. This publication is for folks that can afford to buy new teabags.
Analyze the editorial content.
If a large percentage of the articles in the publication you are looking at are how-to pieces, your audience wants to be able to do things themselves. If you see a lot of list articles, they want to be able to scan content in a hurry. If the features are long and in-depth, they take their reading seriously, are probably highly educated.