Yesterday, I started writing about what we can learn about blogging from the magazine industry. About 800 words in, I realized that I had was too much content for a single post, so I decided to turn it into a series. So, this post is a continuation of our previous discussion. I’ve already talked about how bloggers can learn about design, content repackaging, and subscription marketing from magazines. What else does the world of print have to offer us?
Most magazines feature two or three unique stories based on interviews with interesting people. When is the last time your blog did that? You can include an interview that is purely question/answer format, or you can go farther and turn an interview into a full-length story. Either way, why aren’t we doing that as bloggers? We should be! Think about it. When you pick up a copy of one of your favorite magazines, what’s one of the first things you read (or, if you read cover-to-cover, what’s the most interesting thing you read)? Often, it’s the human interest piece, the story of the girl who survived the car wreck and found a renewed sense of faith in your religious magazine or the story of the family who was deep in debt and somehow got out in your financial magazine or the story of the drowning teen who was saved by his dog in your pet magazine.
Yes, these magazines teach us something. Yes, these magazines talk about industry news. But they also go out there and hunt down interesting stories, stuff that isn’t being covered by every other magazine out there. We need to do that as bloggers.
All magazines have regular columns that are part of every issue. Readers begin to expect these columns and often raise questions if something goes missing.It creates a sense of excitement to open your favorite magazine and see that funny baby picture of the month or read about the best kitchen disasters of the month or whatever your column of choice may be.
What do your readers have to look forward to?
You don’t have to do a regular column, so to speak, but a lot of bloggers out there don’t have any sense of regularity at all. Your readers never know when to expect new posts from you. Your topics are wide-ranging and rarely more than loosely related to any niche. Your might have a beloved regular feature, but no schedule for it. Maybe your tweet like crazy one day, then not at all for weeks. Give your readers some sense of consistency.
So many bloggers out there are trying to please everyone. But how many magazines are like that? Few…maybe none. Magazines know that their readers are a special group with special needs and wants. They focus on pleasing that specific group, not trying to give their magazine mass appeal to every single person in the United States. Yes, you want to appeal to as many people as possible, but at the same time, if you try to have too wide of an appeal, you won’t really appeal to anyone.
There’s another trend I see in blogging that is a little unsettling – and that’s the rebellious “I don’t care what you think. I’m going to blog about what I want to blog about because it’s my blog.” Okay, every magazine out there has an agenda of some sort. When you’re named editor-in-chief or purchase a magazine, you get to promote the content you like. It is yours, after all.
But if that’s the attitude you take, that you don’t care about your readers at all, then don’t complain when you don’t make any money. I don’t care how much I like a blog. If that blogger is vocal about not caring about my wants/needs, I’m goign to go out of my way to spend money elsewhere. It’s cool if you want a place to rant and rave, and you don’t care who reads it. Just because you have a readership doesn’t mean you have to care about them. But if you want money from them? You better care about what they want.
Don’t forget to check out part one of this piece, and next time you’re lacking some inspiration for your blog, pick up the latest issue of your favorite magazine. Look at what you enjoy, and think about how you can transform that feature for your blog.