Lessons learned from print

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After launching my own blog site, I have been pulling my hair out trying to overcome the challenges of constantly creating and planning fresh content on a weekly basis. By reading daily newspapers and weekly and monthly magazines, I've learned a few things from print.

Focus on your core

Sports Illustrated is all about sports, while Dwell is about homes in the modern world. BtoB is about business-to-business marketing. These publications focus on specific topics and a targeted audience. Their readers know what to expect when they pick up Sports Illustrated, Dwell or BtoB.

Lesson learned: It took me a long time to figure out what is the core of my blog.  When people come to my site, they need to immediately know what my site is about. There can be no confusion that the site is about women, marketing and self-discovery.

Create an editorial calendar

Newspapers and magazines plan their editorial topics weeks or months in advance, yet are nimble enough to swap in last-minute breaking news.

Lesson learned: Planning daily editorial posts and blog topics one or two weeks ahead is key. Curating content takes a lot of time. It's important to build up content inventory, yet stay flexible enough to move things around.

Craft your features and departments

I noticed that content in a typical magazine is generally divided to features and departments. Features give an audience something new and special, while departments offer the audience a sense of familiarity. In addition to special features, every Sports Illustrated edition has "Faces in the Crowd" and "Scorecard", while every Harvard Business Review shares "Idea Watch" and "Experience" sections.   

Lesson learned:  My features are my blog posts, yet I need to provide a sense of consistency for my audience. Starting next week, I'm implementing daily themes: "Marketing Monday", "Design Tuesday", "Women Inspired Wednesdays", "Thoughtful Thursdays", "Funny Fridays" and "Dream Destinations Saturdays".  The audience will know what to expect and when.

I hear this statement all the time: "Print is dead."  With everything going digital, it seems there is no place left for print. While I consume most of my content on-line, I am still happy receiving my Ad Age, BtoB Magazine, Elle and Dwell in print.  I love to see that little smile from my son Joey's face when I hand him his weekly Sports Illustrated. Print may be in decline, but there is something special about the tactile and visual experience of interacting with print which can't be replicated by digital content.    

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