Do you love cars or motorcycles? Then perhaps you have the knowledge and “drive” (no pun intended) to write for auto magazines! To start, you can begin brainstorming the top 10 topics that editors seek for this genre:
What car or motorcycle models are in — and what models are out? What models do auto enthusiasts keep track of and talk about most? You can write articles based on the:
- Newest models
- Models which are hot among crime spots
- Cheap or budget-friendly cars
- Practical cars
- Energy-efficient cars
- Best family-safe cars,
- Cars for college students.
2. Car Technologies and Innovation
Every auto enthusiast has an insatiable palate for new features. They shutter with excitement every time the auto manufacturer releases a new feature, an engine improvement, a trendy accessory, or a sleek gadget. Hot topics in this area include writing about hybrid cars, GPS, newest technologies, effect of these gadgets on driving, rules on using them, how to use them, where to find them, or how to get them cheap.
3. Car Shows and Expos
Even car shows are hogging the headlines. NASCAR is one of the most popular car races all over the world. How about you watch a race and make a story out of it? You can pitch editors about popular car racers, local and international car shows, and other activities during car shows.
4. Test Drives
This is one of the most favorite subjects among freelance writers because editors not only pay them for their articles, but they also get to ride the newest models. Besides, even the richest people want to invest wisely by having the best cars. Some of the most popular topics include reviews of automobiles as well as car comparisons. Top Gear is one of the magazines that are great with test drives.
5. Car Maintenance Tips
The average car or motorcycle owner spends hundreds to thousands of dollars on car maintenance alone. An average family pays around $817 yearly on repairs, or $408 per vehicle. This does not include cost for gasoline, oil changes, or car insurance. Perhaps you want to discuss how to reduce costs for car maintenance? You can also write about how to maintain cars during winter, how to check fuel efficiency, or even pick the right vehicle insurance policy.
6. Car Manufacturers
Auto aficionados aren’t just keeping their tabs on cars. They are also interested in the manufacturers themselves: what are they developing? Who are their designers? Who are the new players? Heavy topics, such as politics, in the auto industry as well as economic issues, such as bailouts, are hot-tempered topics.
Though people use cars mainly for practical use, many do collect cars, and they are definitely bent on completing or increasing their collections. Thus, you can write articles about top car collectibles, vintage cars, value of collectibles, and car auctions, and where to find them. You can also cover miniature cars and trucks.
Production and sales of motorcycles in different parts of the world, especially North America and Japan, have increased over the last quarter. Dual-sport and scooter exports rose to close to 2 percent and 29 percent respectively. This simply means many are into bikes. If this is your target audience, some of your topics focus on best places for motorcycle tours, best motorcycles for tours, what to pack, what to avoid, how to dress up, and motorcycle clubs.
9. Gear and Accessories
Car lovers spend money to pimp their vehicles with the latest accessories and gear. In the U.S., more than 44% of all car and motorcycle buyers spend at least $250 to $1,810 annually on accessories. New car owners spend approx. $815 on new accessories and upgrades within the first year. You can provide these readers with tips on where to get the best deals, newest accessories for the body, or how to pimp or modify their car or motorcycle with new designs.
10. Buyer’s Guide
The United States is home to the largest passenger vehicle market of any country in the world, including China and Japan. According to the Department of Transportation, the U.S. has 254.4 million registered passenger vehicles. As you can see, editors always needs articles that help their readers buy new or used cars, and editors need your tips to guide their readers. Your articles can be about cars to avoid, how to buy second-hand cars, cars for clunkers, or how to shop around for brand-new cars for less.
Who’s Your Audience?
In 2008, there were 828 motor vehicles for every 1,000 people. Simply put, you already have a large potential audience; the sheer number of auto magazines in the U.S. and loyal readership in the millions make auto-related articles in-demand by editors. But you can also target car shoppers, auto hobbyists, and motorsports fans. The average age varies among magazines, but is between 20 and 50 years old. There are definitely more male than female readers.
Where Should You Submit Your Work?
Here is a brief list of the most popular auto magazines that hire freelance writers.
• Autoweek publishes car, truck, crossover, and racing news, including trends, features, sports, passion, and emotion–everything that makes up the automotive lifestyle.
• Motor Trend is the second largest auto magazine in the U.S. Editors recommend that contributors query first. Motor Trend covers used cars, road tests, new cars, concept cars, auto shows, and buying information.
• 4 Wheel & Off-Road publishes articles on the latest 4×4 trucks (from Ford, Chevy, Dodge, Jeep and others); how-to articles on basic to advanced modifications and repairs; road tests of new and late-model 4×4 trucks; and new product evaluations.
• Car and Driver is the largest and top-selling car magazine in the U.S., with an average readership in the millions.This magazine is for automobile enthusiasts interested in domestic and imported autos. The magazine publishes road tests, features on performance, coverage of international road races, stock and championship car events, technical reports, personalities and products.
• Hot Rod magazine – Hot Rod is the oldest magazine devoted to hot rodding. This magazine publishes articles on high performance and personalized cars and the sport of hot rodding. It covers performance news, trends, technologies and auto events.
• Road and Track – is an American automotive enthusiast magazine, featuring technical articles on automotive subjects, nostalgic feature articles, humor and fiction and analysis of industry trends. It also publishes travel stories, book reviews, and coverage of international racing events.
• Lowrider magazine – a monthly magazine about cars, focusing almost exclusively on the style known as a lowrider.
• Rider magazine – aimed atmotorcyclist enthusiasts who enjoy touring and general street riding. Rider magazine publishes articles on both modern and vintage iron, road tests, great rides, news and technical information.
• Drive Magazine – Drive is a quarterly publication by Subaru of America, Inc. and is distributed to more than 850,000 owners of Subaru vehicles in the United States. The magazine includes various feature articles aimed at the interests of Subaru owners.
What Are Editors Looking For?
Some auto magazines can be specific. For example, Drive magazine is mainly for Subaru vehicle owners. DieCast X, on the other hand, is about die-cast cars, from history to models. Some magazines are for motorcycles, vintage cars, and road truck drivers. Regardless, you have to possess a high technical aptitude and explain jargons in plain terms. Humor isn’t really needed. Articles can range from 300 to 2,000 words.
How Do You Pitch Ideas?
First, see if the magazine or website has writer’s guidelines or an editorial calendar. Find out about the magazine’s audience and decide if you can write on something included in the magazine’s editorial calendar. E-mail the right person with your pitch or query letter, which shouldn’t be long. Also state if you have photos or not. Your chances of selling an article to an auto magazine increases if you can provide photos.
How Much Can You Earn?
Rates can vary, depending on the length, editorial need, appeal, and treatment of the subject. Payments are almost always made on approval. Editors prefer to buy print and digital rights under one payment. Others publications, such as Motorcycle Mojo pay writers on a per-word basis. Based on 15 popular auto magazines, the average pay rate for freelance writers is between .45 and .75 cents per word, or between $200 and $800 per feature. This rate increases if you provide photos or exclusive interviews or news.