Looking for a little inspiration for your blog? Check out this simple exercise that I do from time to time, particularly if I’ve got a little time to spare and a magazine handy.
Note: pick a magazine that relates to your topic—unlike I did in this video!
Transcription of “How to Use a Magazine to Improve Your Blog”
Today I want to do a little exercise with you that I’ve done from time to time over the last few years. Often when I’m sitting in a food court or something like that, I’ll grab a magazine from a newsagent or a newsstand. And then just whip through it, particularly looking at the front page of it and just sort of seeing what I can pick up. We’re in the publishing game, and so it’s worth taking a little bit of time from time to time just to see what others in the publishing game are doing in terms of promoting themselves and the content that they’re writing.
So what I’ve done today is I’ve grabbed a magazine off Mrs ProBlogger’s bedside table, and it’s a magazine that I’ve never really read before, but some of you may be familiar with it: Marie Claire, the Australian edition. And I want to just whip through some of the elements of this front page here, because I think, in terms of content and even the layout, there’s some things that we could learn as bloggers.
So obviously, I guess probably the most eye-catching thing, at least for me, is Jennifer Lopez there. I think one of the things about images on magazines, on blogs, that I’ve heard a number of studies on, is that faces—eyes—are the most eye-catching thing. I know in the photography magazine space, I’ve heard a variety of photography magazine editors who’ve talked about how they see much higher sales of magazines when there is a person on the front cover, rather than a thing or a scene. So that’s one thing.
I think the other thing about having Jennifer Lopez, having a name, on the front page is that people really do like to read about people. I know a lot of the content that I’ve written on my blogs over the years, when I interview someone, when I tell the story of someone, those types of posts tends to go quite well. We have this, I guess, voyeuristic kind of thing inside a lot of us that we like to see.
Let’s look at some of these titles here. “Look younger longer; cosmetic treatment tried and tested.” This looking younger longer, that’s tapping into sort of an aspirational thing, an inspirational kind of article, and it’s obviously something that is a felt need or desire that a lot of people have. And to put that with the “cosmetics treatment tried and tested” sort of article there makes sense. You’ve got the aspirational, but you’ve also got sort of a research-y type article—the results of a test. And again, I find those types of articles can work quite well, particularly if you can put it with an aspirational kind of theme.
“Catwalk cartels; models lured into drug smuggling.” There’s a story that’s a little bit sensational, I guess. Makes you wonder what is behind that story. “Desperate to be a dad; the desire men don’t talk about.” This is a women’s magazine, but obviously a lot of women would have an interest in finding a man that’s desperate to be a dad, and that sort of story can do quite well in that it’s talking about the desires of people, the needs of people.
“‘Fed and wed-off; where women are forced to be fat for marriage.” That’s certainly a story I’m going to have a flick through later to see what that’s about. There’s “438 sexy new styles”—a typical list post that many blogs would be familiar with. It’s a very comprehensive article, by the looks of things. I suspect it’s probably not that comprehensive, but 438 is a massive number there. And the “sexy new styles,” again, taps into this aspirational-type thing.”The work wear made easier; the style guide.” That, again, taps into people. It makes it sound a little bit easy, doesn’t it? This is the style guide. This is just what you have to follow.
This—”winter beauty SOS: ten simple ways to get your Glow Back”—this is an example of a seasonal article. This magazine came out sort of in the middle of the Australian winter, so it’s sort of seasonal. And again, it’s a felt need that people have in the middle of their winter doldrums. Then we have “What to buy now: the nine key pieces you’ll want this season and how to wear them.” Again, it’s sort of a seasonal thing. It’s a how-to article, and it’s very much about: this is just what you need to do. It’s instructional in some ways.
Now, this topic, this magazine’s probably not going to relate to many ProBlogger readers and the type of blogs that you have, but it’s just an example. If I was in fashion or beauty or that type of a niche, I’d be looking at these sort of titles to see what’s working for other people. And you can of course extend this further by opening it up and going through and looking at the way they lay out their articles, the headlines that they own, I think this type of thing can give you all kinds of ideas for your own blog.
So go out, find a magazine on your topic—or at least that relates to you—and see what they’re doing. You may reject some of it. It may not be your style, but you may also get some great ideas.
Hope that this has been helpful for you.