What do you think about before you start writing an article? Do you read the magazine you're targeting first before you even consider a subject to write about? Or do you get out there and do some research first? I suppose I use a combination of these methods. Sometimes, if I'm out and about, I take my notebook, pen and camera and a chance meeting or sighting will result in the idea for an article. I might even approach people I think have an interesting story to tell and arrange an interview for a later date.
But more recently I've found my inspiration for articles by scouring the pages of magazines and writing similar articles but from a different angle. I find that by reading the magazines I can better target my articles. I can see from the adverts, tone and style of the articles in the magazines and the reader letters page what the readers are interested in. Because, whatever it is that the readers are interested in, as a writer, I'm interested in to. If I can get under the skin of what makes readers tick then I'm a lot closer to knowing what it is the editor is after and, therefore, a potential commission.
I find other people fascinating and there are stories to be found and told whichever direction you look in so we really have no excuse for not having material to write about! My writing goes in phases and I've just had a big short story push but I haven't forgotten about my article writing as I slotted some article writing into my schedule whilst concentrating on articles. I think this helps me to stop becoming bored and keeps my writing fresh: if I get fed up with a short story - it's just not flowing - I switch to writing an article and vice versa
I hope that whether you are knew to article writing or have been doing it for years that you enjoy the process and are constantly finding ways to reinvent your writing.