Friday, December 17, 2010

Print versus Blog Writing

Remember way back, maybe ten years ago, when we had to learn the difference between writing for magazines and writing for online ezines? Places like Entrepreneur Magazine even had separate guidelines for their magazine and online presence. One of my first public speaking engagements as a writer involved explaining the difference, because everyone thought an article was an article, no matter where or how you read it.

Fast forward to today, when online mags are as common as salt. We get it now. We understand that online reading involves a briefer, abbreviated version of feature writing, to include bullets, terse points, and a quicker path to the point. Anything over 1,500 words risks rejection. Print mags are declining in the marketplace, and online  connectivity is critical for existence. Now it's not so much a simple knowledge of writing online but writing in a blog.

If you haven't figured it out yet, it's getting easier to break in with a publication via the blog route than the print one. Blogging is online, yes,  but it's different than an online feature version of the magazine. Blogs pop. They are wrought with personality. The writer is allowed to insert much more humor, laced with links to resources, current events, experts and opportunities. Blogs are a souped up injection of what you need to know.

This instant gratification environment moves fast, so your ideas have to be hot, relevant, savvy and connected, all at once. If you have that quick-witted ability to churn out such material, you increase your chances of publication on a blog.

But most aren't paying that well yet. Some don't pay at all. That pains me. I rarely accept writing for free. But the competition is so stiff in the writing world, that sometimes a name (with a credible blog, mind you) carries the weight to carry you into paying gigs.

But like the chicken or the egg dilemma, you can choose to start your own blog, build readers, and make a name for yourself as an expert over a lengthy period of time, or you can write for little to nothing for someone else's blog in hopes of being seen.

Blogs can lead to opportunity. Alexis Grant now works for US New and World Report in social media thanks to her own blogging and social media activity. We all know how Post Secret branched into a community, books, and a loyal following.

Yes, writing for print can pay more than blogging. It's harder to land the gigs, however, and they pay less than they did five years ago. Blogging doesn't pay much either until you have your own far-reaching site paying for itself in ads. But just get your name on a blog like Copyblogger, Social Media Examiner, Freelance Switch or any other blog with thousands of readers. You better have a Facebook account, Twitter account, website or newsletter because the number of followers will jump.

Step out on a limb, too, Offer to guest blog. All they can say is no. Query similarly to how you pitch to a magazine editor, only show a little more personality, and definitely mention your expertise. One guest blog leads to another. The followers of your own blog increase. Keep that momentum going by feeding your own blog with great material to keep those new people. Snowball effect.

Blogs are spring-boarding careers these days - much faster than magazine articles. So if you are into instant gratification, dive into blogging. Do it regularly, using your best work. Word spreads - slowly but surely, the word spreads. Unless you decide it doesn't spread fast enough and quit, which is what usually kills most bloggers.

Check out this piece on Problogger for ideas on developing a successful blog. Consider being a guest blogger on Successful-Blog. See how to start a successful blog in ten easy steps at Blog Success Journal. The Positivity Blog tells you How to Build a Somewhat Successful Blog: 16 lessons I have learned. Check out How to Blog a Book. Follow Justine Lee Musk on TribalWriter.

It's not hard, and once you establish a rhythm, you'll be amazed at not only your productivity, but the interest you earn as you dare to write with flare, letting readers into your world.


Carol J. Alexander said...

Hi Hope,
I write for both print and online pubs. I started pitching the online sites because I get paid immediately. Even though the pay is less, I get paid enough once a month to float me until the bigger checks come in.
Thanks for the ideas. Have a great Christmas!

Lynnanne said...

Another wonderful post!! Thanks for the links. :)