Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Blogging for Magazines: A Strong Example in Western Horse Review

AMPA’s Blogging Session
On April 19 (Calgary) and April 20 (Edmonton), AMPA hosted the session "Best Blogging Tips for Editors" with speaker Hilary Henegar, the web whiz editor behind You know your speaker has addressed the needs and interests of a broad audience when they're congratulated afterwards with the comment: "the best investment of my time in months." Way to go, Hilary! AMPA Blogger Colleen Seto has done a great job of summing up Hilary’s tips in her post "An Idiot's Guide to Blogging" (and yes, one of the tips was that certain words, idiot for instance, bring in traffic).

Western Horse Review Magazine Offers Strong Example

All of this blog talk had me thinking about one members’ blog efforts that stand out for me as exemplary of everything Hilary emphasized at the sessions: the four blogs (that’s right, four of them!) from Western Horse Review (WHR). I’ll admit, I have little personal knowledge of or interest in horses, but that doesn’t stop me from truly appreciating all that goes into these regularly updated, often personal and always informative blog posts.

And it’s not even always horse-speak! A recent post in “My Stable Life” by Jenn Webster offers a photo-filled glimpse into her personal life; this is one of the great ways that WHR builds relationships with their readers, bringing to light the personality behind the blog.
So You Want to Be a Blogger? I wanted to learn more about all of the work that goes into keeping WHR’s four blogs current and engaging, so I posed a few questions to Ingrid Schulz, WHR magazine editor and “Screen Doors & Saddles” blogger.
Do you pay your bloggers?
Our bloggers are paid either on a monthly salary or "per-post." We don't have a large budget for paying bloggers, they themselves generally have an interest either in promoting the western riding world, and having their writing published.
How is blogging beneficial to your magazine/business?
We deliver a lot of content through our blogs. It's been a real journey partnering up our online voice with our magazine voice. We're still finding our way, but it's coming together, the path is presenting itself. Blogging has tremendously raised the awareness of our magazine.
Do you have any specific instructions, tips or advice for your writers?
  • My request of all potential bloggers is that they submit 10-15 completed blog posts to me. I don't hear back from 99% of them. It's simple, but it's a great exercise in understanding the commitment involved in this venture.
  • I composed posts for a year, prior to going live. Not only did the store of posts help me get through busy times at the magazine, but this method allowed me to develop a real voice for myself. It gave me a stronger start out of the gate.
  • Bloggers are not an "online journalists." Successful bloggers are more like interesting, entertaining and opinionated friends, but they need to be trustworthy as well. We have to know our stuff. I feel very accountable for what I write.
  • Finally, impassivity about your subject matter will translate to your readers. It's hard to fake it as a blogger. Be passionate about what you've chosen to blog about. If you're not, really, what's the point?
--- Rebecca Lesser
AMPA Communications & Programs Coordinator