Ok, so if you didn’t notice already, magazines are increasingly wanting to collaborate with bloggers, whether that be for awards, online content or a feature in a magazine, we’re seeing more bloggers pop up in magazines. Is this because magazines love bloggers? Or is it a clever strategy to leverage the online power that blogger hold?
Well, I’ve had a couple of experiences now and have watched many other things happen, so want to talk a bit about what I think of the magazine/blogger collaboration culture that we’re seeing at the moment. Many bloggers started blogging because they loved magazines and aspired to be journalists one day, I know that’s where it started for me, I used to collect issues of Vogue, ELLE and film magazine Empire, I adored getting the latest news and aspiring to be one day printed in those pages.
However, over the past year or so, things are becoming more and more focused on online content, readers and becoming savvier and competition between mags is getting tough. Everyday, you spot another journalist from a top magazine going freelance and the stats for circulation keep dropping, that’s why we keep seeing so many great cover gifts, it’s the mags trying to sell more, because less people are buying without the incentive. Essentially, why are readers going to pay for content, that they can get online for free? Plus, there’s content online that is more current, instant and more interesting
Bloggers Have Power
So, this is why bloggers are finding their power. With blogs, they are generally written a a hobby, by people who are passionate on a subject, they feature things they have an honest opinion on and often without the influence of advertisers. You’re getting opinions from real people, with passion, for free and often without bias. That’s not what you get from magazines, magazines are a business, they are always going to be influenced by money and advertisers above anything else. So, although you may still love your magazines, remember that in the current climate, bloggers are gaining more and more power in the editorial world (because we are awesome).
Magazines Want Bloggers
Magazines are wanting a piece of the blogger action, obviously! Some magazines are starting to realise the importance of bloggers and the internet. You can see that lots of the magazines are now investing much more time and money into growing their own online platforms, where they can be more spontaneous and have stronger control over the measurement of their actions as well as working on elements such as interacting with readers. As with anything online, to achieve success you want people to talk about you, share your work and link to it, so for a magazine, it seems obvious that connecting with bloggers is a simple way to get this. Remember, magazines and bloggers are in competition with each other, we’re both wanting readers and statistics and to share our voices, but who has the most potential now? I think it’s bloggers. We’ve got to think differently about statistics too, although magazine websites are getting a huge amount of traffic still, are those hits hanging around? Are those hits interacting? Are those hits converting into sales? Maybe not as much, a blogger has a much higher potential to achieve something valuable with their content.
Blogger Awards = Link Bait
In online marketing world, there’s this term link bait, which is exactly what it sounds like. It’s a technique used to just get a bucket load of traffic to your website. In commercial terms, more traffic means more advertisers which means more money. So, this is what the magazines are doing when they are running blog awards, in fact, anyone who runs blog awards is just doing it for the stats. Yes, it is awesome when you get nominated, it’s nice that the ‘big magazines’ have recognised you, but really, it’s not necessarily because of your content, it’s usually because they know that you’ll send them tons of valuable links. Hence why, we’ve been seeing more and more smaller and less known blogs being nominated instead of the obvious, high profiles ones. The magazines want to nominate people who are going to shout about it and send links their way.
Links are valuable, think about who is actually winning in these situations. If you do win the award, what do you get? You might get a goody bag with some random free stuff in, you might get the ‘honour’ of putting a badge on your site that links to the magazine (lucky magazine, getting yet more links from you), you might get some kind of physical award, that will sit on your mantlepiece gathering dust. But at the end of the day, it’s the magazine that is really winning, as the bloggers bump up the mags online stats making them more dosh and more impressive stats with which to sell more advertising with. Was it really worth all that time drafting tweets and writing blog posts for? Personally, I think not.
Yes, there are some positives to winning awards, mainly that some PRs might notice you when they didn’t before, but in the long run, the real winners are the magazines. When the blogger awards were new, they were quite appealing and exciting, but as the years go by, each one becomes more and more lame. Think twice about your value before you get stuck in.
Getting Featured in Magazines
One of my ambitions for this year was to be published in a magazine as a blogger. I’ve been published as model and a photographer before in niche magazines, but never as a blogger. The main reason I wanted to get published was to be able to see if I could notice any increase in interest or increase in traffic as a result of my involvement. It’s happened now and it wasn’t the best experience and I definitely didn’t get anything noticeable for it, which is a real shame as I took time off work for it and invested time, tweet and passion into the project.
When you get approached by a magazine for a feature, it’s obviously going to be exciting, but my advice would be to ensure you know what you’re getting involved with. Question what is going to be in it for you, what you need to do, what deadlines there are and so on. Don’t write articles for magazines for free, they pay writers to contribute, so they should pay bloggers too, since realistically, bloggers have more value than a standard freelance writer, as we have the added bonus of a social media following that we can promote to. Ensure they are going to publish the right information for you, the right spelling, usernames…etc. If you’re going to be published, you need to be getting some strong recognition for the time taken to take part if not a fee.
What’s in it for you?
As a blogger, no matter what level you are, you should also question what’s in it for you? Brands and magazines alike and learning the value of the socially engaged world of bloggers and are certainly trying to use this to their advantage. Some are great opportunities for both parties and others are just taking advantage, don’t be afraid to negotiate terms and ask for payment where necessary, we are valuable to digital marketing and need to make it known. Some opportunities you should be happy to do for free, because it’s a good story, profiling experience or you’re getting treated to something for free, but others you should be asking for a fee or agreeing a package that you will benefit from. Think twice before agreeing to anything is my top words of advice here.
If you have any specific questions on this or similar subjects, please let me know. I’ve been blogging for four years and have worked in digital marketing for three years, so can give insight from both sides of the fence, I hope I can help you out.
How do you feel about magazines and bloggers working together?
What have your experiences been like?
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