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 centre-fold that holds each half togeth­er). Containing all those great articles. Telling fascin­at­ing stories about whatever is of interest to you. Then there are 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 offer comment­ary, not news.

 

Dissimilarities?

  • Blogs are mostly written by one person and not a team.
  • No edition date (articles have dates blogs are mostly undated).
  • No cost (Blogs don’t cost anything but the time to read them).
  • Letters to the editor (hmmm…), well there are comments.
  • 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 Pixabay
 
This is an inter­est­ing question. When looking at content it is already true that they share an audience. Popular blogs can certainly have a simil­ar appeal to magazines. Going to the ones I like time and again for inform­a­tion precisely as years ago I enjoyed those magazines. Read them cover to cover, then keep them for a while.
 
Today content is primar­ily avail­able on the web so if you have a blog the visual appear­ance matters so much. For your blog be ready to play with the themes avail­able. Use one that helps your site look like you are publish­ing a profes­sion­al magazine. It isn’t hard to do.
 
Quality of writing is a primal consid­er­a­tion. Research your mater­i­al, and present it well. A good visual appeal is vital for your content. Post regularly.
 

Appealing? 

 
Making content visually appeal­ing starts with the theme you adopt. There are some great themes avail­able. Most do not cost anything to adopt. GobbledeGoox uses a paid theme, and has added options avail­able. Presentation matters for each article you publish.
 
Stylistically, those provid­ing the home page with a person­able style or layout are best. The must provide easy navig­a­tion through all recent articles. Your vision of the blog changes over time as you add new articles and the older ones disap­pear from the top of the page. Featured article give an immedi­ate focus for the visit­or. The style offered by your theme (partic­u­larly the home page) can look very much like a magazine. 
 
It also means the reader can simply ignore the post on wood eating ants. Necessary where their prefer­ence is the one featur­ing the spring rebirth of the humble bumble bee. They 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. One thought they can look at blog style later. STOP!!! Get it right!
 
In truth few change it, even after they have published 50 or even 600 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. This means, for the reader to access other posts requires either drop-down menus or a long scroll down the page. Not reader friendly. They wish to get to relev­ant content, which they wish to read. It is not a practic­al approach to take.
 
 
The reader may need to take a lot of effort to navig­ate the page. It can be of-putting. Too much effort. They will go away. The key reason a blog writer needs to invest­ig­ate the differ­ent themes avail­able. Having the right one 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
 

Encourage the Reader to Stay

 
The layout and style of your blog must encour­age the reader to stay after reading the one piece that attrac­ted their atten­tion in the first place. Provide them with an urge to stay and explore a little. Showcase a little of what your 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 featured post slider each visit­ors read an average of 2.9 pages. 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 is 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 is an appeal­ing blog home pages:
 
Photographic styled blog by Peter Giblett
Photographic styled blog with featured image

Pictures

 
The photo­graph­ic impact of the home page cannot be under­stated. This picture is of a blog about present­ing photos. Of course every new post brings with it a new photo­graph that can be featured, so the blog devel­ops over time.
 
Even if your blog is mainly textu­al there is no reason it cannot use illus­tra­tions or pictures to convey the impres­sion that should be shown. Pictures enhance text. There are plenty of public domain images that you can use to enhance the value of your text.
 

Letter to the Editor (Or Comment)

 
The letter to the editor seems a thing of the past. Should it be? Every blog owner should encour­age contri­bu­tions by others as a way of spread­ing their reach.
 
Firstly with Blogs have the comments turned on. Ensure you protect the site using Askimet or other software to monit­or for spam or advert­ising based comments. Undesirable mater­i­al is there­fore blocked. 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. Encourage guest contri­bu­tions, this will help spread the word about your blog. They may simply wish to show their article but it brings new readers. They will stay if your blog looks good. Popularity of your blog will grow as you build guest writers.
 
Personally, I am open to other writers contrib­ut­ing here. I specific­ally invite 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. A quid pro quo in respect of cross linking both sites is a posit­ive effect, it raises 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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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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