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.
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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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10 Comments

  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!

  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.

    • 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.

    • 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. 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.

  6. 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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