What is a Magazine features editor?
As a magazine features editor, you will be responsible for ensuring pieces that are submitted are topical, engaging, informative and accurate.
These openings are usually within large publishing companies that produce a whole portfolio of titles. These will include weekly and monthly consumer or lifestyle titles otherwise known as the ‘glossies’, as well as trade titles.
Magazine features editors do not always need to have specialist knowledge of the subject they cover, unless the content is highly technical, although an interest in the subject is usually expected.
The role varies according to the size of the publication and the nature of its content, but as a magazine features editor your responsibilities will typically include:
- Overseeing the layout, appearance and content of feature articles
- Generating ideas for features with writing staff
- Commissioning articles from freelance and in-house writers
- Managing writing staff and freelance feature writers
- Editing and rewriting articles, some of which may be rejected or returned to the writer for revision
- Overseeing artwork, design and photography for the features section of the magazine
- Attending photoshoots
- Organising meetings with writers and artists to discuss ideas for artwork, layout and features
- Negotiating payments with freelance writers
- Understanding and complying with media law and industry ethical guidelines
- Selecting feature articles for each issue
- Sending out briefs to writers, which can include word count, deadline, fee and writing style
- Proofreading all pages before going to press
- Raising the profile of the magazine
- Networking with others at industry events
- Assisting other staff to meet their deadlines.
Starting salaries for feature editors will vary depending on the magazine and location. For smaller magazines, you can expect to earn around £15,000, but for larger publications, this will be considerably higher between £20,000 to £40,000. For more senior members of staff, you can expect to earn between £35,000 to £65,000.
Salaries will vary depending on the size and type of the publication. It’s likely that you’ll start in a more junior role within a magazine, such as an editorial assistant or junior reporter, where salaries will be lower. With experience you may then progress to the features editor role and gain a higher wage. According to Glassdoor the national average salary for a magazine features editor is between £33,000 to £37,000.
You can expect to work the typical 9 to 5, Monday to Friday. However, occasional late nights or weekend work may be required if you are meeting deadlines.
Hours can be flexible and usually less demanding. Part-time opportunities are available, although it is more common within smaller publications. Self-employment is rare unless you opt to do freelance work.
What to expect
- Most work is office-based, although networking, particularly at industry events, can be an important part of the job.
- There’s an equal gender balance, although features editors for men’s magazines will usually be male, just as features editors for women’s publications tend to be female.
- To help black and ethnic minority students get the training they need, the National Union of Journalists (NUJ) has set up the George Viner Memorial Fund to address the shortfall of ethnic minorities in the media industry and to broaden diversity.
- There are opportunities throughout the UK, but most are concentrated in London and the South East. Many of the larger national magazines are based in London.
- The dress code is usually smart/casual, although this will vary with each publication.
- The work includes a lot of responsibility and tight deadlines, which can make the job stressful.
- Travel opportunities vary with each employer, but most require only a limited amount of travel. You may be expected to attend industry events, press trips and social events, and this can mean absences from home overnight.
- Overseas travel is not common, but you may travel abroad for research and networking events. This is more common for publications that rely on information from overseas, such as international business or travel magazines.
You do not need any specific qualifications to be a magazine features editor and they are open to non-graduates. However, related degrees or qualifications will help your application stand out and demonstrate your enthusiasm and passion.
You will not be able to go straight into a magazine feature editor position without previous experience, you will need to work your way up into this position through a certain amount of training, obtained either through a degree or on the job.
must have skills:
You’ll need to show:
- An interest in a range of topics.
- The ability to multitask.
- Attention to detail, combined with an appreciation of the ‘bigger picture’.
- The ability to think on your feet and respond to events as they happen.
- Excellent writing skills.
- The ability to understand complex subjects and explain them clearly to readers.
- The ability to take constructive criticism.
Magazine journalism is a highly competitive market. Therefore, you should try and get as much experience as possible to make your application stand out. Work experience is usually more valued than qualifications, therefore creating a portfolio of your work will help demonstrate your capabilities for the role.
If you are considering magazine journalism during your time at university, there are plenty of opportunities to gain work experience while studying – such as writing for the student newspaper or local newspaper. You may also want to consider writing a personal blog to highlight your writing skills in different styles.
It’s also a good idea to send speculative applications or articles to newspapers to get in front of editors. However, it’s important you do your research on the magazine to make sure the article you are putting forward is in line with their tone, the types of stories they cover and messaging.
There will be various opportunities for additional training once employed. Some of the bigger companies will offer free training courses to staff. However, it’s unlikely that smaller publishing houses will be able to offer such a package, and most of your expertise will be learnt on the job through more senior members of the team.
The Professional Publishers Association partners with various companies to provide training that focuses on specific skill areas.
Relevant courses are available through the NCTJ. This includes the level 5 Diploma in Journalism, which reflects the multimedia environment of modern journalism. This qualification has replaced the level 3 qualification to focus on the increased level of digital skills and knowledge used by journalists over the last few years. It includes the following core subjects:
- Essential journalism
- Ethics and regulation
- Essential media law and regulation.
The biggest employers in the industry are the large multi-title publishing companies, but opportunities are available with small, independent publishers and in-house magazines.
Online magazines are also becoming an increasingly useful vacancy source.
There are opportunities in many different areas, including:
- Newspaper supplements
- Online publications
- General consumer magazines
- Specialist consumer magazines
- Business-to-business or trade magazines
- Customer or in-house publications
- Directory and data publishing.
Each of these areas can include many different titles. General consumer magazines, for instance, cover interests such as the arts, news, entertainment, health and sport.
You most likely gain your first experience in journalism through a student or local newspaper or you may publish your work online.
After gaining experience of writing or working for a publication, the next step is to apply for an entry-level position. These positions include:
- Junior writer
- Editorial assistant
For smaller publications, other opportunities, such as press sub-editor, may be available for recent graduates with writing experience.
It can take many years of writing and working for a magazine to be considered for a features editor position, but this can vary with different publishers.
UWS’s BA Journalism will teach you everything you need to know to become a savvy, multimedia-skilled journalist and reporter. Learn the skills to drop the latest breaking news story.
Underpinned by theoretical insight into ethical and effective journalism, you’ll study news reporting, develop interview techniques, and hone your writing skills to meet the practical demands of today’s fast-paced news environment.
You’ll also have the option to specialise in either Sports or Magazine Journalism as you progress through the programme.