A Designers Guide to Getting Published

One of the most effective methods to market your design abilities is to have you or your business published in a magazine. The publication lives on in perpetuity and can be used to give you credibility over your competition.

Many designers don’t feel they can be published or their work isn’t good enough. Do you have a client success story? Did you have a positive experience working with a product or service? Does your business do something different than other design professionals? Have you won an award? Can you write about your experiences? If you said yes to any of these questions, you are qualified to be published.

My first publication came about by accident. I called a local Builder/Architect magazine in 2005 to inquire about placing an ad. I quickly found out the cost of advertising, and that an ad needs to be in the same location, issue after issue in order to get noticed. Think about how many times you have skimmed one of the many publications we all get every month – how many of those ads did you really notice or pay attention to? All I saw was dollars going out the door with only hope that some would come back.

When I discussed what I do with the editor, she said that she was looking for new content for an upcoming issue and asked if I would be interested in writing an article. I said I wasn’t qualified because I had never written an article before – she said that’s not a problem. Their readers wanted something real, not something a “for hire” professional writer does. She was more interested in actual experience than a Pulitizer. She also said that I could have 3 pages, with pictures and a full contact area within the article. I quickly did the math – ¼ page ad for thousands of dollars, or 3 full pages for free. It wasn’t a hard decision.

This has turned into nearly 50 articles in about a dozen regional and national publications. I have a regular design related article in a national magazine and have been featured on several cover stories for another (your image is on the cover and it is the main story in the magazine). I was interviewed by Smart Money Magazine about home building and just this year was a contributor for an article about Disaster Proof Housing for Popular Sicience. Bottom line, my phone rings EVERY time a new article is published with my name and contact in it…and it has only cost me a little bit of my time.

How do you get started? There are magazines for EVERYTHING! The big national, general purpose magazines can be difficult to get in when you are starting out. Publications like Builder, Custom Home or Remodeling rarely have a lack of content – they have the most seasoned professionals vying for their attention. The easiest magazines to get published are small regional publications or specialty magazines. Find one that shares a common interest in your business. Maybe you have a local magazine for building, design or remodeling. Another idea are regional real estate magazines. Have you designed a “Man Cave” or a unique garage? What about Audio Visual or an automotive magazine? Did you design a unique roof for one of your homes – there are many roofing magazines. Think outside the box.

Once you have narrowed down the types of magazine you want to be published in, you need a relevant topic. Find something that makes you or your designs unique or find a product that you really enjoy working with. You need to be able to show a passion and excitement in your article. You need to talk about the pros and cons. What did you do that worked where others failed? You want the reader to be educated by reading it.

Here are a few tips for writing your article:

  • Provide pictures if possible – professional preferred, but not always required.

  • Get permission if you are using any names or pictures you didn’t personally take.

  • Write with limited technical terms – make it easy to read and follow for your audience.