Tuesday, January 24, 2023

My Journey to Writing for Parenting Magazines

 


I think it’s important to record how you started doing something you are very passionate about, so I’m going to share my writer story here. Keep in mind I didn’t have Internet access at my house until roughly 2013, so my early career was spent researching and submitting at the library, at my mom’s house, my dad’s house, friends’ houses, my husband’s workplace, etc. I was determined and I had a fire in my belly!

I always thought of myself as a writer growing up, but I didn’t think I was that great at it…nothing special. I got good grades in English and Creative Writing classes in school and even wrote some decent papers during my community college years. I was always observing, journaling, and venting on paper. Interesting things happened to me, as well as experiences that would have served as great warning stories for others, but I didn’t know how to craft them into something people would want to read.

I had three kids when I started writing for money and was a 35-year-old stay-at-home mom with a husband who traveled frequently for work, sometimes for weeks at a time. I loved being a mom more than anything in the world, and I also loved recording every thought in my head while I held my nursing baby during her naptime and her big brothers watched PBS cartoons and Baby Einstein videos on TV nearby. Trying to not let Caillou’s whining and Dora the Explorer suck out all my brain cells was a top priority back then.

We had a little paper in my city called Mother and Child Reunion that was a little bit like a regional parenting magazine (RPM) only smaller and more like a little newspaper. I always found helpful parenting articles in it each month and wondered if I could offer them something of value. In 2006, I submitted a series on how to make money with your kid on your hip. They were only used online, and I was too chicken to ask for money. I was just happy to have a writing credit, any writing credit.

Next, I went after my local RPM which I had been reading for a long time, Kansas City Parent. I had whipped up a piece about meal planning and stocking up on groceries to save time and money and sent it off. “Stock-up Mentality” ran in the January 2007 issue, I received a $25 check, and I was on top of the world. One mistake I made was that I wrote the article out of annoyance with a friend. The friend went to the grocery store daily for meal ingredients, and I thought she was nuts. I could not imagine dragging my own kids to the store daily, and I thought I was a pretty superior human being for buying two weeks’ worth of groceries at a time, and I had also started trying out the Once-a-Month Cooking Cookbook concept, although I could only handle meal-prepping for two weeks at a time and, honestly, I only did that once.

The key takeaway from this is never to write an article out of snark. Predictably, it damaged the friendship, plus this friend had a blog where she blasted me.

After shaking off that bittersweet experience (yay for selling an article locally and making money, but boo for pissing off a friend and looking petty in the process), it was time to tackle New Beginnings (La Leche League’s magazine). I sent off an essay on how much I loved having my kids nap on me after they would fall asleep breastfeeding. It ran in the March/April 2007 issue, I got two free copies of the magazine, and I was ecstatic once again. 

And I had a grand total of $25 for three writing credits. That was NOT going to pay for braces or groceries. 

I stumbled upon an article online about selling reprints and started trying to send out my “Stock-up Mentality” article. I made many submission mistakes, received one kind rejection, and didn’t hear from anyone else. 

After that, I got fired up about kids and fundraising, pounded out a piece, submitted it to my local newspaper, The Kansas City Star, and saw it in print six months later, in January 2008. The pay was the satisfaction of my family knowing I could write and hearing my name on a local radio station when the host agreed with my stance. (I later turned this piece into two articles for the RPMs which were very popular: Rock Your Next Fundraiser and Fundraising Life Lessons Learned, as well as a hybrid of the op-ed and one of the articles, titled Fundraiser Fallout.)

My Writing Career Statistics About a Year into the Game:

Ø  One unpaid money-making series in a little local parenting newspaper

Ø  One $25 article about stocking up on meals in my local parenting magazine

Ø  Two free copies of an international magazine where my piece on breastfeeding appeared

Ø  One opinion piece published in my local newspaper

Ø  One writing fire still burning in my belly

Meh. Time to head back to the regionals, I told myself, because I loved writing articles, had a million ideas, and decided I should be writing for an income. I enjoyed some success with various magazines (reworked the Mother and Child Reunion series into one article and a few places bought it, such as Columbus Parent) and I also continued to collect contact information and writers’ guidelines for markets all over the United States.

Then I got pregnant with my fifth child in 2009 and thought it might help other writers to learn from my mistakes and to have the list of markets, writers’ guidelines, and pay information I had compiled for myself. So I headed into the land of ebooks while also continuing to submit parenting magazine articles and doing some other things on the side, like blogging, writing for Contently and Scripted, and proofreading on Fiverr and Scripted.

In the summer of 2010, I felt frazzled and stressed out about expectations that were being put on my family of seven to be in several places at once on Christmas morning that year, I wrote 8 Tips for Holiday Sanity (also known as Dreaming of a Peaceful Holiday). I have since earned over $1,000 from this one article, selling it as a reprint all over the United States. 

I gained momentum and confidence and started penning informational pieces about topics that were on my mind, such as: 

The natural progression of that included being asked to write pieces on assignment about things I had to research because I had no personal experience with the topics. These included Co-Parenting Best Practices, Kindergarten Separation Anxiety, and Picky Eaters. 

In early 2022, one of our local news stations, Fox4 News, contacted me via Instagram to do a remote interview to talk about one of my articles they’d seen in Kansas City Parent about busting indoor boredom in the winter. 

These days, I’m still writing blog posts, parenting articles, and books, as well as proofreading. I’d love to do more TV spots (maybe in person this time!) and can see myself diversifying my income even more by branching out into writing teaching materials for TeachersPayTeachers, designing creative materials for my Etsy shop, and doing speaking engagements to talk about many different topics.

Writing for parenting magazines can be a springboard for so many other things, and you can continue to do it while you venture into other adventures!

If you're interested in starting, check out my book with over 600 markets!

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