A Blog is Like a Magazine, Or is it?

One morn­ing recent­ly I was sit­ting down sip­ping cof­fee at my favourite cof­fee shop, read­ing an old fash­ioned mag­a­zine, the ones with the glossy cov­ers, hav­ing pages with glam­orous ads about great watch­es or hol­i­days in exot­ic des­ti­na­tions (espe­cial­ly the extra glossy one in the cen­tre­fold that holds each half togeth­er), con­tain­ing all those arti­cles, telling great sto­ries about what­ev­er is of inter­est to you, and then those com­mu­ni­ty pages show­ing upcom­ing events etc. that you may con­sid­er attend­ing. Then it struck me how blogs and mag­a­zines are so sim­i­lar, yet so very dis­tinct.

Some Similarities:

  • The front cov­er, with pub­li­ca­tion name, show­ing the lat­est arti­cles on offer (depend­ing on the design of your blog).
  • A way to nav­i­gate to arti­cles of interest.
  • Con­tact points.
  • Some text that tell you about the publication.
  • Adver­tis­ing (if you have tak­en the oppor­tu­ni­ty to mon­e­tise your blog).
  • They pro­vide com­men­tary, not news.

 

Dissimilarities?

  • Blogs are most­ly writ­ten by one per­son rather than a team.
  • No edi­tion date (arti­cles have dates but blogs are most­ly undated).
  • No cost (Blogs don’t cost any­thing but the time to read them).
  • Let­ters to the edi­tor (hmmm…).
  • No Edi­to­r­i­al (although it could be argued that some Blogs are all editorial).
  • No mis-num­bered pages (Hyper-links don’t nor­mal­ly go wrong).

Should a Blog become more like a magazine?

Magazine by Evakraq CCO Public Domain from PixabayThis is an inter­est­ing ques­tion, indeed when look­ing at con­tent it is already true that they share an audi­ence. Excel­lent blogs can cer­tain­ly have a sim­i­lar appeal to mag­a­zines, I will go back to the ones I like time and again for infor­ma­tion pre­cise­ly as years ago I enjoyed those mag­a­zines. Today con­tent is pri­mar­i­ly avail­able on the web so if you have a blog the visu­al appear­ance mat­ters so much. For your blog you should be pre­pared to play with the themes avail­able and make them look like you are pub­lish­ing a pro­fes­sion­al mag­a­zine, it isn’t hard to do. Of course qual­i­ty of writ­ing is first and fore­most, mate­r­i­al must be researched, and be pre­sent­ed well, which means it has to be visu­al­ly appeal­ing and con­tent should be post­ed regularly.
Mak­ing con­tent visu­al­ly appeal­ing starts with the theme you adopt and there are some great themes avail­able and the beau­ty is that many do not cost any­thing to adopt, it also con­tin­ues with pre­sen­ta­tion with­in each article.
Styl­is­ti­cal­ly I find those that pro­vide the home page to your Blog with a style or lay­out that pro­vides easy nav­i­ga­tion through all recent arti­cles you have pro­duced to be the most attrac­tive of blogs. The vision of the blog changes over time as new arti­cles are added and the old­er ones dis­ap­pear from the top of the page, using fea­tured arti­cle facil­i­ties of oth­er tools offered by your theme the home page can look very much like a mag­a­zine. It also means the read­er can sim­ply ignore the post on wood eat­ing ants in pref­er­ence to the one fea­tur­ing the spring rebirth of the hum­ble bum­ble bee and jump straight to that page with the aid of the hyper-link pro­vid­ed, pos­si­bly being attract­ed by the pic­to­r­i­al lay­out of the home page of the blog, which can have a sim­i­lar impact to the Magazine’s front cover

Do Not Use the Default Layout

Many blog­gers are in a rush to get that first post pub­lished, think­ing they can look at how their blog is styled lat­er, but in truth nev­er change it even after they have pub­lished 50 of 60 arti­cles. Part of the prob­lem with default lay­outs being adopt­ed as the land­ing page is that the site vis­i­tor sees one post laid out under­neath anoth­er which means when access­ing oth­er posts requires access to either drop-down menus or the need for the long scroll down in order to get to the con­tent they wish to read. It is not a prac­ti­cal approach to take.
You should get the impres­sion by my words that it can be a lot of effort for the read­er and a key rea­son why a writer needs to inves­ti­gate the dif­fer­ent themes avail­able, doing so can make or break any site. It is easy to change the lay­out, just look for a theme or style that suits your per­son­al­i­ty and the mate­r­i­al that you publish.
Default blog by Peter Giblett
An exam­ple of using default layouts

Encouraging the Reader to Stay on your Site

The lay­out and style of your blog must be of a type which encour­ages the read­er to stay after read­ing the one piece that attract­ed their atten­tion in the first place, you need to pro­vide them with an urge to stay and explore a lit­tle, show a lit­tle of what you’re site is about.
I gath­ered some sta­tis­tics for a site I once man­aged for a client, at the start each vis­i­tor read an aver­age of 1.3 pages (most of which con­sist­ed only of text), once we altered the home page to include a slid­er each vis­i­tors read an aver­age of 2.9 pages, and after sev­er­al changes to make the site more visu­al (includ­ing adding pic­tures, dia­grams, or oth­er images to old pages) vis­i­tors were read­ing an aver­age of 4.7 pages. One goal of any blog should be hav­ing peo­ple stay and read mul­ti­ple pages, and have them come back next week for more.
Blog­gers should use a slid­er, fea­ture, or mag­a­zine based themes. This way your blog can have a front cov­er  that makes the site look like a mag­a­zine, with quick links to whole arti­cles, just like your mag­a­zine. The role of the theme is to give your site a per­son­alised look and feel, many themes will encour­age you to use pic­tures and select a fea­tured image for each post which will make your Blog main page phys­i­cal­ly more appeal­ing and much more in the style of a print­ed mag­a­zine. You should also con­sid­er chang­ing colours, visu­al lay­out, fonts and oth­er options, they are sim­ple to change through the theme options. Here are some appeal­ing blog home pages:
Photographic styled blog by Peter Giblett
Pho­to­graph­ic styled blog with fea­tured image
The pho­to­graph­ic impact of the home page can­not be under­stat­ed, this pic­ture came from a blog about pre­sent­ing pho­to and of course every new post brings with it a new pho­to­graph that can be fea­tured, so the blog devel­ops over time.

Letter to the Editor (Or Comment)

The let­ter to the edi­tor seems to be a thing of the past, yet any blog own­er should encour­age con­tri­bu­tions by oth­ers as a way of spread­ing their reach. First­ly with Blogs you should have the com­ments turned on and you should have your site pro­tect­ed by Askimet or engines to mon­i­tor for spam or adver­tis­ing based com­ments in order to block unde­sir­able mate­r­i­al. Sec­ond­ly with every piece you write you should specif­i­cal­ly invite com­ments by your readers.
Third­ly you should speak with oth­er blog­gers you know and have them write a piece for your site, a guest pub­li­ca­tion, this way they will spread the word about their arti­cle and the pop­u­lar­i­ty of your blog will grow if you have sev­er­al guest writ­ers. I am open to oth­er writ­ers con­tribut­ing here, I am specif­i­cal­ly invit­ing con­tri­bu­tions about the chal­lenges peo­ple have writ­ing, what in their lives stops them pur­su­ing their pas­sion and how they cir­cum­vent that prob­lem. Also be pre­pared to write for oth­er people’s sites in return, there should be a quid pro quo in respect of cross link­ing both sites, cross link­ing has a pos­i­tive impact for blogs and their vis­i­bil­i­ty on search engines.

There may nev­er be the real equiv­a­lent of the let­ter to the edi­tor in a blog, but com­ments and guest arti­cles are cer­tain­ly a good idea for build­ing an audi­ence that returns when­ev­er you pub­lish some­thing new.

Cost, Monetisation, and Donations

Obvi­ous­ly run­ning a blog does cost mon­ey espe­cial­ly if you have a .com address as opposed to a free Blog­ger or Word­Press address, to mon­e­tise your blog you will need to pay for upgrad­ed ser­vices. This top­ic is how­ev­er a sub­ject for anoth­er dis­cus­sion.
 .
Buy Peter B. Giblett a cof­fee as a thank you for con­tribut­ing his thoughts on the pow­er words can bring. All images used here are either owned by Peter Giblett or are CC0 Pub­lic Domain, sourced from Pixabay.

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16 Replies to “A Blog is Like a Magazine, Or is it?”

  1. Some impor­tant points, many often over­looked. A lot of blogs I vis­it have end­less scrolling of every arti­cle ever writ­ten, which can be a bit of a put-off. Com­pe­ti­tion for reader’s atten­tion is fierce, and every sub­se­quent click on one’s site counts. I’m still far from tun­ing my site up to where I want it — your post will help. Thanks for sharing!

    1. Peter B. Giblett says: Reply

      Yes com­pe­ti­tion for a reader’s atten­tion is fierce which is in my view why style mat­ters so much. I am glad I have been able to help, with mat­ters like this it is always a work in progress.

      1. Absolute­ly, thanks Peter!

  2. Peter, I sim­ply must say this is an excel­lent top­ic. You’ve giv­en me a lot to think about. Thank you for shar­ing your knowl­edge. I’ve nev­er thought about the dif­fer­ences between mag­a­zines and blogs. The facts in this post are price­less and you are very kind to share them.

    1. Peter B. Giblett says: Reply

      My plea­sure Nan­cy, I think mag­a­zines have a lot to teach us about style.

  3. I used to be a great read­er of mag­a­zines before I start­ed spend­ing my life on my com­put­er. Now I’m a great read­er of blogs and have quite a few of my own. I’m in the process of design­ing two new ones, and your advice is quite time­ly as I am still set­ting up. I’m still not com­plete­ly hap­py with my new theme for my new blog, but maybe I just need to play with it. Until I write a sec­ond post, I won’t real­ly see how that home page will look. Unfor­tu­nate­ly, I start­ed my most suc­cess­ful blogs so far on Blog­ger, and I don’t know quite how to apply your advice there.

    1. Peter B. Giblett says: Reply

      Bar­bara, Thank you for your thoughts. I have worked on client blogs both on Blog­ger and Word­Press, this advice is not real­ly geared to any spe­cif­ic blog­ging plat­form, there are plen­ty of good themes avail­able on either plat­form. You are right in what you say about the look of the home page, some time you need to review how it looks after 10 posts and again after 25 posts.

  4. As a pro­fes­sion­al hack writer I’d love to con­tribute a paid post to any blog that wants to mix it up a lit­tle. (I enjoy learn­ing about top­ics I don’t usu­al­ly write about on my own, if the edi­tor feels qual­i­fied to ver­i­fy that I’ve learned enough to write a decent post about cars or foot­ball or the beach­es in a coun­try I’ll nev­er visit.)

  5. Peter B. Giblett says: Reply

    Priscil­la, it is good to hear from you. I love it when writ­ers mix it up a lit­tle, it can chal­lenge con­ven­tion­al think­ing which we fre­quent­ly need.

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  7. I want to to thank you for this won­der­ful read!! I cer­tain­ly enjoyed every bit of it.
    I have you book marked to look at new stuff you

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