9 Tips For Better Blogging

Blog noticed pic

How do you get your blog noticed? (Pic: Ebunola Adenipekun)

By Ebunola Adenipekun (@ebunola1)

When you discover an amazing blog that you find yourself returning to regularly, do you ever wonder what it is about it that is making you so hungry for more?

I work in blogger outreach for a media intelligence company and read THOUSANDS of blogs throughout the year. I attend blog awards too, where I get to meet the winners and have a chat with them about what they think makes them so successful.

Through this line of work I have acquired a knack for spotting what makes a good blog, so I have decided to share them here on Journograds.

Here are nine tips to help your blog get noticed:

1.Think about who you are writing for

Try creating an imaginary person/friend who would represent your “typical” reader. Are they male or female? How old are they? What do they do? Are they a student, mother or father? Do they work in the city, or are they self-employed? Maybe it’s even that hot barista in the coffee shop down the road that you are writing for. Either way, have fun thinking about WHO the ultimate reader is – and then write for them.

Others have had success from writing for themselves. They feel there is a type of content that appeals to them but they haven’t yet seen it out there anywhere. Chances are they aren’t the only one who feels that way – and so they end up writing for a market of like-minded individuals.

Regardless of what works best for you, be sure you always write from that proverbial place we call your heart (I know it’s just an organ, but you know what I mean) and be passionate about what you are writing about. If you really care, it will come across in your posts. You can try and follow trends, but if you’re not fully engaged, it will show!

Readers of blogs often come back because they love the writer’s style and if appropriate, their humour. Be you!

2. Be clear about what you’re talking about

Many people think it’s best to have one theme throughout the blog. This can be anything from summer fashion or Beyoncé’s latest outfits to Star Wars and 90s TV shows.

This works because if someone is looking for advice on a certain topic and they know that you are the one who always covers it, then they will hunt your blog down and stick with it while it serves them.

According to one UK survey, Bloggers are among the best-trusted source of information.

3. Make your blog attractive

How often have you landed on a blog’s homepage and seen a dated and uninspired design that makes you want to stop reading it right then and there (regardless of whether its content may change your life or not)?

Don’t be that blog! You can use the vast number of themes available on blogging platforms, or learn how to create your own. Or even seek out a designer you know to help in exchange for money or a mutual service.

Also, large pics taken by and of yourself are often well-appreciated as it is offers an insight into your life and may inspire others – and, oh yeah, Instagram like no other.

4. Write often and keep it social (promote, promote, promote)

If readers know when to expect a new post they are more likely to excitedly anticipate it. Tweet, Facebook and Snapchat your new posts and be enthusiastic about it – and that will shine through.

Remember your ‘tents‘ – be persistent and consistent #ThatIsAll

As well as promoting your posts on social media channels, read other blogs – and comment on them. People love a good conversation. If you love a post, let the blogger know! And likewise, let fellow bloggers and readers know you’d love their feedback on your blog too.

If time is an issue, schedule your social media posts in advance (you can use tools such as Hootsuite)

5. Write a punchy headline

How many “how-tos”, “top [inset number] tips” and “why” blog posts grab your attention in the day? They’re a tried-and-tested formula that the pique the interest of a reader. They make the reader think “ooh, will this change my life?”

6. Find inspiration

Pinterest is one of my favourite social media channels ever – it’s like the best version of an online vision board. I can’t recommend it highly enough. Pinterest isn’t just about pretty pictures though! You can use it as a search tool for any subject: it gives you links to useful articles and posts on almost any topic you can think of.

Research, research, research. You learn a lot in the process of doing some intensive fact-finding about the topic you are blogging about and become a person readers come to for your perspective.

7. Edit and proofread

While typos don’t seem to be the end of the world on many a popular blog, I think it’s a good idea to have your blog post proofread (and edited) by someone else so it doesn’t spoil the experience for those who like to know the difference between they’re and there.

8. Guest write

There is some merit in writing for a blog you admire, as it widens your network. Read other blogs’ Get in Touch/Contacts pages. Some people are looking for contributors, while some would hate anyone else touching their precious blog – so get to know them from one another.

9. Enjoy writing

Good writing will come with practice (and by practice, I mean just doing it often!). Your writing will flow – keep at it and enjoy the process of creating a mini-media empire of your own in the form of a blog! Be creative with it – it’s a place to share ideas, rant, rave, record and broadcast!

Ebunola blogs at theboommoment.blogspot.co.uk, posts (some) of her artwork at facebook.com/ArtByEbunola and pins (a lot, some would say, too much) at www.pinterest.com/ebunola1. If you would like to blog for Journograds too, get in touch

6 Tips From A Glamour Intern

Lucy got her hands on the first ever issue of Glamour

Lucy got her hands on the first ever issue of Glamour

By Lucy Abbersteen (@lucyabbers)

I have always been passionate about women’s magazines, so you can imagine my delight when, after applying to dozens of titles, I finally heard back from Glamour and was invited to an interview.

I wasn’t horrifically nervous, but when I sat down in the boardroom in their offices in Hanover Square, faced by huge, glossy canvasses of stars like Emma Watson, Paloma Faith and Alexa Chung, the reality of where I was hit me. Fortunately I impressed enough and was able to swap my summer job of serving coffee to rude customers for the shiny offices of this renowned women’s magazine.

I spent four whole weeks writing, filing, calling people and running around the offices, helping wherever I could – whether that meant running to Pret to get one of the section editors a coffee or assisting the digital team with research, transcribing interviews or calling in products for features. I got a real buzz from the atmosphere and it’s amazing to know I had a hand in producing a couple of the issues.

One of the highlights of my internship had to be meeting the editor in chief herself, Jo Elvin. I’ve been reading Glamour since I was about 15 years old and so to be sat in front of the woman who created it was bloody amazing: I didn’t bother trying to be cool – mainly because I’m not. She was really funny and gave me some great career help, and didn’t mind chatting to me despite being insanely busy. Thanks, Jo!

I had an absolutely cracking time and got a load of invaluable first-hand experience. Here are some of  my tips for making the most of magazine life:

1. Don’t bother if your only motivation is “fun”

If you want to do work experience at a top magazine like Glamour because you think it would be “cool” to work at a fashion magazine or be surrounded by celebrities and gossip all the time then, for your own sake, don’t even apply. Yes, there are times when it is really fun and enjoyable, but people here work really hard to produce a top-quality magazine. Somebody who isn’t prepared to throw themselves into the most menial tasks will be soon became annoying and, frankly, useless. You’d be wasting your time if you expected it to be an easy ride. You’ll also be taking away the opportunity from somebody who really wants it for the right reasons!

2. Always ask questions if you’re not sure

It’s better to be 100% sure about what you’re doing than spend a load of time doing the wrong thing and have to start over. People get that you’re new, a bit inexperienced and don’t know the ropes yet, so they won’t mind. And they’d rather you did the job ASAP too!

3. Make an effort to find out how people got to where they are today

If you’re chatting to someone who’s been established at the magazine for a while it’s always good to find out how they got there; what they did after Uni, what work experience they had, where else they’ve worked, etc. They may even have some useful contacts for you –­ it’s not always about what you know but who you know!

4. Be prepared to do anything and everything with a smile

I was horrified to learn that there have been past Glamour interns (plural!) who responded to having to do deliver the post with, “You do know I have a degree, right?” Aaaaaaaarrgh. Whatever you do, don’t act like you’re entitled to be given a load of important jobs straight away. You need to prove that you’re responsible enough and know enough to take on more first.

5. Ask to do things that aren’t in your job description

If you have a particular interest in beauty or the way that pages are laid out, ask if you’re able to shadow or help out in that department. You’ve got nothing to lose: the worst that will happen is you’ll be told you can’t. Best case scenario you’ll get even more insight into how different areas of the magazine function.

6. Always think about how you can make other people’s lives easier

I put together a database of all the cover stars so that it was a lot simpler for people to find a specific issue; Glamour has been running for more than a decade, so there are A LOT to go through if you want to find a specific person on the cover or the 50 Best Dressed issue, for example. When you’re given a task such as research or typing something up, always think about how you could make the next step easier for whoever you’re sending it to. Your effort will take a load off somebody else’s mind and they’ll really appreciate it. Going the extra mile is always worth it!

Rest assured, once you’ve finally got that first big internship you’ll really enjoy yourself despite the hard work. I had an absolutely brilliant time at Glamour and was so sad when I had to leave. Thanks to everybody on the features team, and a BIG thank you to Amy, the PA for giving me such a fantastic opportunity. I’ll definitely try to be back!

Have you had an internship you would like to share with our readers? Email us if you would like to blog for us, or get in touch with us on Twitter, @JournoGrads

Channel 5 News: Behind The Scenes

Minnie Stephenson interviews a guest for a Channel 5 News package

Minnie Stephenson interviews a guest for a Channel 5 News package

By Hannah Gray (@HanChan24)

During my two weeks of work experience at Channel 5 News I was lucky enough to spend a morning at Buckingham Palace, help create news packages, book experts to appear on 5 News Tonight and see correspondents deliver live reports from Westminster. If you’re looking to do work experience there too, keep on reading for everything you need to know.

The Programmes

Channel 5 is part of ITN and has two news programmes every weekday – one at 5pm and a second at 6.30pm. The majority of the time I worked on the later 6.30pm programme (5 News Tonight). This is more of a talk-show style programme with guests and experts discussing the news of the day in more detail. The 5pm show, on the other hand, is a bulletin made up of many short news packages and a few short live chats between the presenter and correspondents in the location of the story. This one keeps the majority of the editors, reporters and producers very busy.

The Location

Situated at London Bridge and close to monument station, the 5 News TV studios are in a great location for attracting guests, which is one of the tasks I was given. The blue glass building is also the home to the Express newspaper, the Star newspaper and OK magazine. There are great views of the Thames from the roof garden near the café, which is on the top floor – although most journalists will tell you they’re far too busy to spend any time up there!

A Typical Day

I spent the first few days with producers who were working on 5 News Tonight. Those days kicked off with a morning meeting where the programme editor would select stories from the day sheet that the planning team had produced earlier in the week. Everyone would make suggestions on appropriate guests to shed light on the stories.

On some days there would be a story that broke during the day which would change the agenda, so you had to be adaptable and prepared to cancel plans. Once three (or four) main stories are decided upon in the meeting, the producers then set about contacting guests.

Sometimes it was obvious who to bid for (for example, for a story about women suspected of taking their children to Syria to join ISIS, I arranged an interview with the MP of Bradford East, which is where the women were from). But other times a lot of research was needed.

Getting Guests

Securing a relevant guest who is articulate, enthusiastic and knowledgeable was always my goal. Once the guest was confirmed, I would then write up a story brief for the presenter. This needs to be concise, and must include notes on the guest’s opinions on the topic they will be talking about (which you will have found out by speaking to them on the phone beforehand).

Another responsibility was arranging cars to collect the guests and bring them to the studio on time. Once they arrived it was my job to greet them and take them to the green room, make them a drink if they wanted it and then take them into hair and make-up ahead of the programme.

The presenter would often come into the green room and get to know them a little first, which really put them at ease. One task I found to be the most difficult part of being a producer on 5 news Tonight was cancelling on a guest when the story  was cut from the show at the last minute. I only had to do it once or twice, but it felt a bit like breaking bad news to someone – like they hadn’t got a job they had applied for.

Shadowing Reporters

As well as learning from the producers on 5 News Tonight, I also got to spend three different days with reporters. The first person I got to shadow was Minnie Stephenson, the entertainment reporter. She was covering a story on Royal Navy Lieutenant Commander Chris Gotke, who was awarded the Air Force Cross for crash-landing a historic plane.

I went with her and the cameraman to meet Chris at Buckingham Palace. I helped the cameraman carry all his equipment and briefed Minnie on the story (whilst also trying not to get in the way during the interview!) It’s interesting to see all the work that goes into making a TV news package. For example, the cameraman needed lots of extra footage of Chris on top of the interview itself, so that Minnie would have lots of different shots available when it came to having the report edited together.

After all the filming was done, we headed back to 5 News studios so she could edit the package, which was really interesting. Though the packages are short, to make them look, sound and flow really well it takes at least an hour of editing. All the footage has to be arranged to tell the story and the deadline is tight. Watching all the producers, editors and reporters frantically put their packages together in time for the show to go live is quite invigorating. Making tea for them during this period got me a lot of love!

Have you had an internship you would like to share with our readers? Email us if you would like to blog for us, or get in touch with us on Twitter, @JournoGrads

 

How To Get Work Experience At NME

NME

Getting work experience with the iconic magazine was no easy feat for Anna. (Pic: NME.com)

Anna Hall writes about her work experience this summer with one of the UK’s most well-known music journalism magazines…

NME magazine has been a British institution for decades and, if you’re looking to break into music journalism, it is quite possibly the holy grail of work experience placements. After having (relentlessly) applied for a placement through the Editor’s PA Karen Walter almost a year ago, I got offered a week of work experience this June. NME typically only offers one-week placements. That sounds short, but believe me, it is well worth it! Just being in the offices, surrounded by people who are doing exactly what I want to do was thrilling.

NME is part of Time Inc., a media company that occupies most of the Blue Fin building right behind the Tate Modern on the beautiful South Bank. When I arrived, there were three other interns and we were given a row of computers with an impressive view of the river and the City’s glittering skyscrapers. It was so exciting being in the heart of London and inside the offices of the magazine that I’ve grown up reading.

On the first day Karen showed us around the building and introduced us to the team, but after that it was really up to us to be productive. While occasionally people would come up to us and give us jobs to do, we were mostly expected to ask for work. That was really daunting.

You barely know anyone so it’s important to be proactive (otherwise you’ll end up doing nothing all week!) I got to do a lot of different things, from transcribing interviews with members of The Strokes and The Monkees, to researching for articles and sifting through back issues.

The most helpful thing I got out of the experience was feedback on my writing. Karen sent us a list of new singles and we were asked to write up a 100-word review of 3-4 tracks. One of the writers on the team then sits down with you on your last day and gives you advice on how to improve your writing . Getting  that one-to-one guidance from an experienced music journalist is invaluable, even if the article doesn’t get published.

They say breaking into journalism is tough. In truth, even getting work experience in the industry is hard. It wasn’t easy for me. My advice is that simply sending an email isn’t enough. Karen is no doubt flooded with applications and there is a rumour that NME gets 200 requests for work experience a week!

When I applied, I sent in my CV, covering letter, and writing samples by post, followed by an email. I did this simply because I think getting a physical copy in the mail is harder to ignore and it shows that you’re serious enough about the job to go through that effort. I generally apply for all internships and work experience by mailing my application in; I’ve always received positive feedback about that.

Aside from that simple trick, if you want to secure a work experience placement at any magazine you need to write! You don’t need to be a Journalism major or an English major – many of the other interns weren’t. The most important thing is to be writing prolifically and consistently. All of the other interns at NME that I worked with had music blogs and updated them constantly with gig reviews, album reviews, and anything music related.

While I don’t run a blog, I write monthly for several small, independent publications and my university newspaper. There are so many opportunities to write that if you are not writing consistently, you really won’t be taken seriously. Be passionate, write prolifically, and then bombard Karen with your writing samples and CV (don’t be creepy though – no stalking). Everyone at NME really was lovely and if you are passionate about music journalism, they will take notice.

Would you like to write for us about journalism work experience you have had? Get in touch! For the latest on jobs and internships, follow us on Twitter @Journograds and like us on Facebook

Covering The Charlie Hebdo Massacre

Catherine Lankes found herself in the midst of a major developing story (Pic: Rob Crew)

Catherine Lankes found herself in the midst of a major developing story (Pic: Rob Crew)

Language student Catherine Lankes had never done any field reporting, but found herself in Paris covering the Charlie Hebdo shootings through sheer chance. She explains how she coped with being thrown in at the deep end…

I went to France as an Erasmus exchange student after quitting my job as a staff reporter at Austria’s largest daily in Vienna. I had been there for nearly half a year when the Charlie Hebdo massacre took place.

On Wednesday, January 7th 2015, I was shopping in the French capital when I got a push notification on my phone about a terrorist attack on a Paris newspaper. I was horrified and appalled. I also felt a twinge of guilt that while all this was going on I was out shopping.

And then my phone rang. It was a former editor, asking if I was still ‘busy on holiday’ and, if not, did I fancy some reporting?

It was an easy decision.

In a rush of adrenaline I hurried back home, grabbed a notebook and got on the next métro. My editor told me to get as close as I could to the Charlie Hebdo newsroom. He wanted me to talk to people and to get some photos, to get what he described as ‘the feeling on site.’ He assured me that I was under no pressure, and that I should just do what I could before he called me back. He was quite aware of the fact that I had never done real field reporting all on my own before.

I had no clue at all. All I knew was that I had to stay calm and that I had to trust my gut. The worst thing I could do was panic and think about all those people who would potentially be reading my coverage of a horrifying, yet captivating, story. I did not want to screw this up.

Once I arrived on site, I immediately felt I didn’t belong there. All those journalists looked professional, experienced and well-equipped. They were working in slickly operated teams. I was the opposite; a beginner, alone with her notebook and no clue whatsoever. What the hell was I supposed to be doing exactly?

I got nervous. I half-expected someone to walk up to me and uncover my disguise. And yet, it never happened. Nobody seemed to care. Nobody asked for my press ID (which I did not have) and nobody questioned my presence. When I realised that, I instantly became more confident.

It almost felt like I was playing the role of the special correspondent in some kind of theatre performance. I wasn’t me anymore. This 21-year-old Austrian language student who had been thrown into the deep end no longer existed. All I needed to do was play my part.

I started interviewing eyewitnesses, talking to police officers and opening my eyes and ears for any morsel of useful information. After two hours of running around and gathering material, I headed to a minuscule café nearby to file my work. The place was buzzing with journalists.

Laptops, cameras, mobile phones, scribbled-upon notebooks, empty coffee cops – every possible inch seemed to be occupied with them and their equipment. There were reporters from all over – the guy sitting across the table wrapped up his story in Portuguese, behind me were two British TV reporters, and there I was on the phone discussing my work in German.

I was exhausted by the time I sent my email to my former editor, and relieved. I knew that I had played a role in covering a hugely significant global story. I’ve been back to Paris since, and while I was there I visited the Place de la République. The statue is still plastered with notes, graffiti and ‘Je suis Charlie’ placards, and as I stood in front of it I still couldn’t quite believe I was present to witness and report on everything as it all unfolded.

Do you have an experience you would like to blog about for us like Catherine? Or have you already written a post you think our audience would like? Get in touch with us if so via Twitter @JournoGrads or send an email to the editor

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