Ah, the parenting and baby market. Its potential is lucrative. After all there are 24.5 million children between the ages of 0 and 5 in the United States today, according to the U.S. Census Bureau. That means a lot of parents are looking for information about how to effectively raise their families. That’s a lot of moms-to-be trying to prepare for their little ones’ arrivals.
And that’s a whole lot of moms and dads attempting to navigate the wild world of parenthood. All of this is to say that the parenting niche is ripe with opportunity. But breaking into the market can be difficult if you take the wrong approach. What follows are some tips I’ve found useful over the years when approaching pregnancy, baby, and parenting publications.
Know the Needs of Your Audience
If you do nothing else unless on this list, make this your priority. Knowing your audience is key for writing content that appeals to them. This is a tip that applies to writing for pretty much any niche publication, but it’s especially important for the baby niche.
Why? People are relying on you to be an expert. Think about it: expectant and new parents are filled with anxiety! They’re suddenly responsible for a human being. It’s a lot to take in and it’s a lot of pressure. They’re Googling anything and everything related to their new babies and are relying on you to be their guide. Don’t let them down by doing your research and asking yourself, “Is this helpful?” with every word you write.
Capture the Tone and Style
No two magazines are alike. If you’ve ever written for magazines before, you know the drill: read a few back issues before you set out to craft your pitch. Should you get an assignment, keep those back issues handy.
It’ll help you hone in on any style specificities that publication prefers. There’s totally a difference between the to-the-point voice of Working Mother magazine and the tip-centric Parents magazine. That’s not something you’d know by reading the writer’s guidelines alone.
Include Personal Experience
If you’re a parent—it doesn’t matter if your child is already grown—you have experience to share with these readers. Include a few personal details when appropriate to show the editors you know your stuff.
If you don’t have a kid or aren’t anxiously awaiting one’s arrival, there’s no need to fret. Just put yourself in parents’ shoes. What would you want to know if you were pregnant? What kinds of topics would appeal to you if you were a parent to preschoolers?
Take What’s Old and Make it New Again
People have been having kids since for…well…ever. As you can imagine, every topic under the sun has been written about before, often in each parenting and baby mag on the market. So how do you write about something new? To be honest, you don’t.
But what you can do is take old topics and make them fresh. Find a few angle, a new detail to focus on. There’s no need to reinvent the wheel in this niche. Just focus on presenting that wheel in a new way. Add a shiny new hubcap. Or some new trends. You get the horrible, mixed-metaphor idea.
Timely Topics are a Big Win!
Seasonal and timely content is a surefire win with pregnancy and baby markets. But you need to give yourself enough lead time—because these publications certainly do!
If you want to pitch a story about entertaining your toddler at a family Christmas gathering, pitch it in July. Want to write about the perils of being pregnant in the summer? You had better get that query letter out the door by November at the latest. A six-month lead time is totally not unheard of, so plan accordingly.
Avoid Controversial Topics
After a few hours of research in this niche, you’ll quickly notice that there are as many parenting styles as there are parents. Differing opinions are expected and encouraged, especially when you can back up a claim with solid research from respected experts.
Still, there are some topics you’ll want to avoid unless you know for certain a publication is in line with the way of thinking you wish to present. For instance, don’t pitch an “attachment parenting is wrong” article to a publication that regularly publishes articles in favor of this parenting style.
It all comes back to familiarizing yourself with individual publications. Do that and follow these tips and you’re sure to crack the baby market in no time.
About the author:
Brenda Stokes Barron is a writer, editor, and SEO specialist from southern California. When she’s not hunched over her laptop, she’s spending time with her husband, daughter, and two crazy cats. Her writing and editing business is The Digital Inkwell. She also blogs regularly at The Work Life Mom about balancing freelancing with the mommy life.