Archive for August, 2009

Want more traffic? Make a better site

August 31, 2009

I like this report from Min Online about why ew.com and parenting.com have seen such impressive traffic growth over the past year. Their secrets? Better, more frequently updated content, and an effort to reach more readers from elsewhere, pulling them in from search, Twitter, Facebook and YouTube.

It’s easy to get caught up in the details, but it really is that simple: push for increased quality and quantity, and the readers will follow. Make a website you would want to read, and others will, too.

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Women’s Health gets real

August 25, 2009

How’s this for community-building and UGC? Women’s Health has put together a gallery of their editors’ worst back-to-school fashion photos on their Facebook page. (I believe you have to be logged in to see the page.) It’s super cute, super friendly and reaches out to readers – who have reached back, posting some of their own fashion faux pas.

This is what social media is for – not just for sending out links. Connect with readers on a personal level and they’ll become your most loyal supporters.

What are some other magazines you’ve found doing great (read: appropriate) things on Facebook?

Why you should take a class at Ryerson this fall

August 19, 2009

I interrupt my summer blogging vacation to let you know that the information night for Ryerson’s Magazine Publishing program is tomorrow. Come meet me and the other teachers in the program and find out what we can do to help your career.

Whether you’re new to the industry or a veteran looking to upgrade or diversify your skills (or somewhere in between), the classes are a fun way to learn new tricks and meet new people. And if you’re lucky (like I was, years ago), the connections you build in the classes could help land you a new job.

Jump over to the Canadian Magazines blog to get detailed information about the courses. Web Editorial is taught in the second half of the semester, so I’m off the hook until late October (although I’ll still be there tomorrow evening), but for all classes, don’t leave registration too late – there’s a minimum number of students before they’ll run a class and it would be a shame for a class you’re interested in to be cancelled.

See you tomorrow!

Are you proud of your website?

August 10, 2009

I just picked up the August issue of Gourmet, and the editor’s letter is all about their website, which won a James Beard Award for journalism in the category “Multimedia Writing on Food.” What stands out isn’t that Ruth Reichl, the editor-in-chief, is writing about the cooking videos available on gourmet.com – it isn’t unusual for an editor to tell readers about site features. What really struck me was how she discussed them in such personalized detail, from how the video on washing and chopping fresh herbs “changed my life” to how she repeatedly watches chef Steven Yan’s video on how to make hand-pulled Chinese noodles “over and over again because it’s such a fascinating sight.”

Whether Reichl actually watches the site’s videos so religiously isn’t the question here – realistically, we know she’s as busy as any of us. But what I love is that she’s writing about the website with such passion, and with a real knowledge of what it offers to its readers. And it made me think: how many of us are that proud of our websites? How many of us are truly taking enough care in site content that we could write about it in such a way?

Obviously Canadian magazines don’t have the resources of Gourmet or similar publications, recession notwithstanding. But this is a good argument for doing less things well, and truly being proud of what you produce.

How to handle seasonal content

August 5, 2009

When you put out a magazine, you know when people will be reading it. And if they read it later than that, they know that they’re reading something that was targeted at a certain time frame. So not only can you orient an issue to the calendar, but it’s expected.

Online, on the other hand, there’s a bit of a conundrum. While your home page and newsletters are timely, many readers will come across articles weeks, months or even years after they were written. It’s important to keep this in mind both when editing individual articles and when creating content lineups. For the former, it’s a good idea to date content and to edit out any time references that aren’t necessary to the story. For the latter, it’s much more worth your time and money to focus resources on content that will stand the test of time.

Some tips on handling seasonal content:

• At the micro level, edit out anything that will later become confusing. Change “last year” to “in 2008”, “recently” to “in early 2009”. Cut people’s ages, especially if your system doesn’t specify the date of publication.

• If the article you’re repurposing, editing or assigning is a general topic with a seasonal twist, cut the seasonal references. Tips on surviving “holiday stress” can easily be reworked as tips on surviving “stress” – and you can still specify the holiday reference in links referring to the piece.

• Be careful with images. An evergreen story with a fall-themed image will look very dated the rest of the year, even if the content isn’t.

• Create packages of seasonal and seasonally relevant content. They will stay up year after year and you can add to the collection, but the main piece will continue to be indexed by search engines.

• Don’t pretend that you’ll go back and edit seasonal references out later. Chances are, you won’t have the time. And if you really think you will, then create a database of what needs to be edited and when.

• Timely or newsworthy content may seem to have a short life span, but it can often be reworked into packages as well. For instance, if you had a collection of old Michael Jackson articles, it would have been worth your while after his death to repackage them as “Michael Jackson: a history”. Same goes for news – create timelines that readers will be able to use as valuable history refreshers.

What tips did I miss?