Magazines: Writing Evergreen Articles

I've mentioned this type of piece before--the "evergreen" article...

Evergreen articles are those that are always in need. Think "timeless". For example:

  • Great holiday gifts
  • Back to school tips for parents
  • 5 Fast, Healthy Meals
  • Money-saving vacation ideas

Magazines are always in need of this type of content, and it can be a great way to break in to a particular publication. Even so, you don't want to do a tired old repeat of the same thing that has been done a million times before. A fresh take on an evergreen topic is almost like magic to an editor looking to fill gaps in their content.

Here are some thoughts for how to navigate that type of approach:

Put a spin on it.

Instead of just pitching a piece on great holiday gifts, why not slant it a bit to suit the publication. For example, an eco-friendly magazine might appreciate something like "great green gifts for the holiday" or a family-oriented magazine might like "five fun gifts for the entire family". Personalizing it for the readership will get you a second glance. Not taking the time could land you in the slush pile.

Take a news-oriented approach.

Before crafting your pitch, why not see if you can add a timely news hook? For example, say a study was just released on the benefits of weight training for older adults. Combine that with a pitch to a magazine that caters to that market and highlight products that fit the bill. So you might contact a lifestyle magazine for retired people and talk about the benefits of weight training, showcasing items like hand weights or using common household items for weight training.

Check past issues.

Although you should be doing this anyway, here it is vital that you check past issues of the magazine. If they did a piece last September on "back to school tips for teens" you may want to pitch "back to school tips for tots" this year. After all, savvy writers know about evergreen articles, so they pitch them as well. You don't want to try and sell an editor an idea that has already been done in their magazine.

Keep a "tickler" file.

A "tickler" file is a folder of ideas that you can return to when you need them. Evergreen topics are the perfect thing to include in this type of folder. Take time out near each holiday to brainstorm some ideas for evergreen pieces, and you can turn to that resource each year for ideas. Ideally it will keep growing and you'll have a batch of topics to choose from the next time you get stumped.

Evergreen articles can be a great source of income, and they can be fun to write as well. Keep generating ideas for this type of piece and you'll always have ideas to try out for various magazines.

Do you have any favorite evergreen article ideas? Care to share?

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Catherine L. Tully has over nine years of experience writing for magazines such as American Style, AAA Living and Boys' Life. She is the editor for an award-winning blog on freelance writing and also owns and edits a blog for dance professionals.

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