Wednesday, April 20, 2011

An Idiot's Guide to Blogging

Yesterday, AMPA hosted a blogging session with Granville editor Hilary Henegar in Calgary, and she’s doing it again today in Edmonton. Here’s a recap of what she had to share.

First, set your online editorial mandate to parallel that of your magazine’s. Even though you’re on a different platform with different tools, your website should reflect the same voice and brand of your print product. This may seem obvious, but I’ve seen a number of websites that seem like completely separate entities from their print mags.

Recruit bloggers who can and will take ownership. Reliable bloggers help generate traffic by building relationships with readers, and they often use social media to spread the word. Regular contributors are one source. In return, you have to pay these folks. But it may not cost as much as you think if they want that publicity and credibility. If you can’t pay a lot (or at all), try using contra; offering training, exposure and feedback; or develop partnerships instead. But be forewarned, free can often mean more work and less control on your end.

Of utmost importance, Hilary emphasizes how the online space is a community that’s all about karma. If you invest in it, you will get the return. This can come in the form of dollars, time and links.

Overall, blog content should be:
  • Concise and visual
  • Short bits of high-impact content (e.g., infographics)
  • Sharable
  • Clickable
  • Chunky (use subheads and captions)

She offers a few examples of magazines with strong websites/blogs:
Uppercase (an example of a local mag doing a simple, yet effective blog for its niche on the free tumblr blog software)

You’ll probably notice that many of the mags have more than one blog organized by subject and/or writer. That’s right folks, whether to have a blog is no longer the question. It’s now about how many blogs and on what topics.

Thanks to Hilary for some good tips. I’m testing her theory about using the word “idiot” in my headline. Apparently it means we’ll get 10 times the traffic. We shall see!

--- Colleen Seto
AMPA Blogger-in-Residence