Life tends to throw you new things, new challenges, and new circumstances when it sees fit. I’d like to believe that life throws you new things when it sees that you’re ready for it (even if you might not agree). I supposed I’ve been here and done that a few times over and, well, here’s another one of those times.
I was working as a content manager for online products and services companies for the past few years. My main responsibilities were to plan, create, curate and manage online content and social media posts and engagements. Now I’ve literally been dumped on the deep end with planning, creating, editing and subediting for the print magazine, which I’ve never had any experience before. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not saying it’s a bad thing. I’ve always been thrown into the deep end throughout my life and this is just one more of those times.
Jumping from online content to writing for the print magazine has taught me quite a few things so far. One of them is the difference between writing for print and for blog.
7 Differences between blogging and writing for print magazines
Print magazine: Writing for a print magazine, the norm is to write in the second or third person because it is more professional sounding.
Blogging: We write in the first person. It is actually encouraged for bloggers to write in the first person because it will offer a more personal atmosphere. It’s like we’re sitting next to each other and I’m talking to you.
Print magazine: An indication of a great writer is the ability to shift and change the language to keep the readers stimulated. It is boring to read the same words over and over again. That’s why we make use of the thesaurus.
Blogging: Exchanging the thesaurus for Search Engine Optimization (SEO) which dictates which keywords to use and how often you have to pepper the keywords in your post for the search engine to realise how serious you are about the subject and send more people to it through search. The longer the post, the more the keywords.
Print magazine: Readers of a print magazine or newspaper already made an investment in effort and time to read any one article. Even if it takes a few paragraphs before actually getting to the gist of the story, the reader is still less likely to flip the page and move on to another article.
Blogging: There are plenty of content online. They all provide various links to other pieces asking for attention and the odds are most people won’t finish reading the article before clicking on one of the links and jumped to another article, and another, and another. The blog content needs to offer a strong hook and inform the readers what the article is all about from the beginning.
4. Layout and design
Print magazine: The story needs to be laid out so that it is easy to read. The flow of the layout and design is as important as the flow from one paragraph to the next.
Blogging: Blog posts are designed to be scanned. Admit it, we don’t ‘read’ the full blog posts unless it’s something we are really interested in. Even then, we don’t read every word of it. I don’t; do you? Blog posts are specifically designed to be scanned so we’ll use a lot of bullet points, numbered lists, short paragraphs and sentences and frequent spacing instead.
5. Word count
Print magazine: It is recommended to write at least 1,500 words or more.
Blogging: Even if we see a lot of long form contents online – often marked with TL;DR – it is recommended that a blog post should be 1,500 words or less.
Print magazine: The articles are written to educate, inform, offer statistics and facts for people to read and consider. The articles aim to tell stories.
Blogging: Content is written to inform, offer opinions, insights, offer tips&tricks, give lessons or recommend tools. At the end of each blog posts, we were taught that there should be a call to action or some kind of interaction to encourage the readers to act on something once they finished reading.
Print magazine: Tough luck. Just have to be more vigilant next issue. It is obvious that print magazine’s editors must scrutinise every detail carefully prior to print. If any typos turned up in print, there’s nothing that can be done about it. Give yourself a kick in the butt and just remind yourself to be careful next issue.
Blogging: All you have to do is click edit and it is immediately and permanently fixed. No one would be the wiser except maybe your first readers.
From a blogger to a writer, if you are a freelance writer and thinking about blogging, you will have to get used to these differences and vice versa. I believe you’ll really know the difference when you try.