Start Reading Trade Publications
Virtually every skilled trade is targeted with at least one and usually more than one publication aimed at that particular audience. The best part is that most, though not all, of these magazines, newspapers and newsletters are FREE! They have what’s known as qualified circulation, supported entirely by advertisers with an interest in reaching a highly targeted audience.
These publications are filled with information about new products and tools, technical articles, stories about important people and companies in the trade and more. A good way to get a head start on a trade career is to start subscribing to one or more of these publications in the trade sector you are interested in, such as plumbing, HVAC or electrical work. Or, if you are undecided on a precise career path, sample several different trade publications to determine which one you find most interesting.
“Qualified circulation” applies mainly to printed publications. To be eligible for a free subscription delivered to your mailbox, you will need to fill out a card asking questions about your occupation, such as job title, size of the business you work for, and so on. It costs money to print each magazine, and since all revenue comes from advertising, it doesn’t pay for the publisher or the advertiser to have the publications circulated to people who are not realistic prospects to buy what the advertisers are selling. The question card you fill out usually has a box marked “other” to check if none of the other job descriptions apply. Some publishers are stricter than others about sending to people in this category. Sometimes the categories will include “apprentice,” which is more likely to land you on the circulation list.
Am I encouraging you to fibs about being an apprentice? Well, in a way, I guess so. But as a trade magazine editor for many years, I
know that most advertisers would be pleased for their publications to be read by people who are likely to be buyers in the future.
Anyway, almost all trade publications also post their content on websites available to anyone, whether working in the trade or not. You still might have to register and fill out a questionnaire, but in most cases you should be able to access online content even if you are not currently employed as a trade worker. The vast majority of online content is free, although some publications may charge a modest fee for access to all or certain sectors. The electronic publications typically have back issues archived and often include special content that does not appear in the printed versions. While it costs a significant amount of money for publishers to put ink on paper, it costs next to nothing to add content to a website.
It’s simple to locate these publications. Just do a web search on “plumbing … HVAC … electrical trade magazines” and start exploring. Read one or more regularly and you’ll be ahead of the pack when it comes to understanding the work they do and issues facing various trades.