This week we want to take advantage of all of the lessons old media has been learning about communication, gathering audience and tapping into our niche market. This week we are going to use magazines to improve our blogs. The idea is simple, before there were blogs and websites if someone was interested in keeping up on the latest and greatest in a topic of their interest, the best they could do would be to seek out a weekly or monthly subscription to a magazine focused on it. Blogs have become a more instant, casual and convenient way for readers to do that, but there is absolutely no reason why we shouldn’t take a step back and gather knowledge from the old media that still attracts our readers.
What to Look For In a Magazine
While it is true that magazines are completely different than our digital media, there are still many things that they can offer us as bloggers. Some of theses things are:
- Colors and designs that are currently popular
- Articles and topics of interest
- Marketing strategies
- Reader engagement tactics
- Increasing your knowledge base in your niche
How to Look at a Magazine for Tips
Darren Rowse, author of 31 Days to Build a Better Blog (the ebook this blog series is based upon) explains that when we are using a magazine to help us improve our blog we are not looking at it the same way as we would if we were just planning on reading it. He suggests that you grab some post-it notes, a notebook and set aside about an hour for the activity. Then you dive in.
Step 1: Flag your eye candy. When you first go through the magazine DO NOT READ IT. Go through, with sticky notes in hand and stick one on any page, article, ad or anything that catches your eye. This is great practice to see see what types of things you might want to implement in your design or titles to make your own blog “sticky.” Remember we have an infinite amount of competition on the Internet – you need eye candy on your blog to get readers to stop there!
Step 2: Read cover to cover. After you’ve noted the eye candy it is time to go back to the front of the magazine and go through it more carefully with a number of questions in mind:
- Who is this article/magazine written for?
- How are pictures used throughout?
- Which articles are of interest to me?
- How does this magazine use headlines, article titles, subtitles and article format?
- How does the magazine sell itself?
It doesn’t seem like this should take too long, but if you take this activity seriously, Rowse’s suggestion of an hour of time is not that unrealistic. I also think you will be surprised by how much you pull away from this week’s activity.
Grab a magazine (or two) to examine. While finding one in your niche would be awesome, it is not entirely necessary for all of the lessons. Follow the steps above to see what print media is up to right now and let us know in the comments below about anything you have learned from the activity. Also, if you are a big fan of any specific magazine that you’d like to recommend to the Story Dam family, we’d appreciate the tip!