Magazines need reliable writers and new blood. Nichole Aksamit, Senior Editor of three-year old Allrecipes magazine, says she’s always on the prowl for new talent.
“Consider your interests, skills and forthcoming projects,” explains Nichole. “We want down-to-earth stories with a focus on community and friendliness. We like stories that are approachable and fun.”
She says the magazine wants to “cross-pollinate with influenceers who have a niche.” So if you’re a specialty food blogger with a great following, she may be interested. And as you’ll see, she’s usually not looking for recipes.
If you would like to freelance for this national magazine aimed at a mass audience, familiarize yourself with the publication:
- Go here to see pages from a sample magazine.
- review this editorial calendar and target audience to see what kinds of subjects to pitch.
- Buy at least one copy at a newsstand and study it. (It’s only a little more to buy a subscription for $7.99.)
Think ahead when coming up with a story idea. The magazine publishes six issues per year. “We are rough planning 9 to 12 months ahead, ” says Nichole. “We’re fielding and assigning pitches 6 to 9 months ahead. We are testing editing and photography 3 to 6 months ahead. Some writers pitch me every quarter. I like that, such as ‘I’m giving you my April pitch now for December’.”
Here are the types of pieces Allrecipes magazine runs:
It’s easier to break in if you target the smaller regular departments first. As a result, editors get to test out new writers and you get a way in.
1. The Kitchen Sink. This department comprises small pieces of 100 to 400 words. Pitch trends, tidbits, cooking tips, food with beauty benefits, your obsession (such as pour-over coffee), or explanations (what is Dutch processed cocoa?). Seasonal pieces, such as those related to minor holidays like Halloween, work too.
2. Virtual Travel. This one-pager covers a quirky dish that’s specific to a state. It requires research by someone who knows the region. Describe the three best places to find it (such as cinnamon rolls with chili in Nebraska) and quote those in the know.
3. Global 360. This section features an international recipe. “We are interested in a writer with an international background to explain the ingredients and provide a cultural context for the dish.”
4. 4 Kids. “This department is geared to an activity parents can do with kids. It has a talk-through recipe. It’s pretty loose and it’s mostly an idea. It must be clever and timely.”
5. Recipe features. While around 90 percent of the recipes come from the magazine’s website Allrecipes.com, occasionally Nichole needs recipes from a freelancer. The recipe-based features have an intro and 5 to 6 recipes. Cookbook authors are popular choices.”Sometimes a piece is entirely contributed by writers. That happens when the content didn’t exist on the site — such as smart portable breakfasts — or the subject helped meet a demand.” On the other hand, “Sometimes we ask the writers to help us select the recipes for the site and write the set-up,” says Nichole.
When you’re pitching, understand the magazine’s voice. Most of all, be approachable, flexible, and non-judgmental. The goal is to make readers feel confident. Most readers are interseted in food, don’t think they’re the experts, and want to learn. But there are also more seasoned cooks. “If you read just one issue of the magazine, I think you’ll get it,” she advises.
Here’s what Allrecipes pays
Payment is project-based. Fees range from $150 for a short piece or $100o or more for a feature with recipes and social components, such as a related Facebook Live chat. As a result, the difference is the number of variables. “There’s the length, how much of an the expert you are, whether there’s recipe development or research, how quick of a turnaround we need, how much of a social media following you have, and how much time we’re asking of you, ” Nichole explains.
How to contact Nichole
“Send an email of introduction telling me about you, your particular area of expertise, your style, and the kinds of things you enjoy writing about. Include your social media stats and links to your blog, relevant clips and experience, and/or portfolio site. I might not have something for you right now, but if I have you on my radar and know your strengths, you just may be my go-to when the need arises.
“And it won’t be a cold call if you reach out to me later with a specific pitch. Pitch a few times a year (quarterly is nice) and keep it short. Just a sentence or two about what you propose, if it has a time element or seasonal hook, why you think it’s a good fit for Allrecipes, and why you’re the best one to write it.”
Query Nichole.Aksamit AT meredith DOT com. Good luck! And let me know if you have success.