‘Use a Magazine to improve your blog’, Day 24 #31DBBBDay24 with @problogger


Well, themes for blogs are often described as ‘magazine style’ so it’s no surprise that bloggers should look to magazines for inspiration… and not on a one-off basis either, but regularly…

[Out of interest – this is the kind of assignment I’ve set before to undergraduate students, to get them to critically analyse what works, and find a typical structure, in a magazine – and how a rock magazine is likely to be different from a home decorating magazine!]

Why would you look at an ‘old media’ magazine?

  1. Marketing Ideas: How does it market/pitch itself? What’s on the cover – how does it convince people to buy the magazine?
  2. Design Ideas: Online is different to offline, but be inspired by good design: what designs, colours, layout are in fashion?
  3. Post Ideas: Doesn’t have to be related to your blog topic – you could be inspired by a headline, or apply a feature to your own topic
  4. Niche Ideas: If on own topic, will keep you up to date.
  5. Writing Topics: What works, what inspires you as effective communication.
  6. Monetisation: What principles are used to bring in funds? Similar principles apply online.
  7. Reader Engagement: Magazines are increasingly learning how to engage with the online – what can you learn from their tactics?

It’s important to take on board the lessons learnt over the years by print media, and then continue innovating and understanding blogging.

Today’s Task

Find a magazine and analyse it – one in your niche will be particularly good. Remember that libraries may have back issues…

  1. Find a quiet space where you can be undisturbed for an hour
  2. Required: sticky notes, a notebook, a pen, magazine/newspaper.
  3. Starting at the front, flick through and place sticky notes on what catches your attention – don’t analyse – move fast!
  4. Go back through and work out what caught your eye – was it a colour, a headline or…
  5. Have another look more slowly…:
    1. Who is the target audience of this publication?
    2. What techniques are used on the front page to draw people into the magazine?
    3. What makes you pause to read an article? Why do you skip over other articles?
    4. What types of headlines are they using? How effective are they?
    5. How are pictures used?
    6. What colors are popular at the moment?
    7. How are articles formatted (use of subheadings, bold, lists etc.)?
    8. How does the magazine sell itself (looking forward to future issues, subscription pages, etc.)?
    9. What can you learn from ad placement and design in the magazine?
    10. What level is this magazine pitched at (beginners, intermediate, advanced, etc.)?
    11. What does the magazine do well?
What does it not do well? How would you improve it?
    12. What are the limitations of the magazine medium? How could you use this to capitalize on selling your blog?

Use the opportunity to take time away from your own blog, and be inspired by new ideas… [Similar could be done with a TV programme, etc.]

If there’s a magazine in your niche consider:

you could offer to write an article or even a regular column. i’ve seen a number of bloggers do this with success. alternatively, you might want to pitch yourself or your blog as a potential subject for an interview or article in the publication.

Often those who contribute have web addresses at the base of their contribution – approach and ask if they will guest blog for you – some will, some won’t!

Further Reading

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The #BigBible Project. Educating in the digital spaces, creating 'bigger Bible conversations' between #digidisciple(s). Look out for #bigread14.