I've been magazine writing for four years and quickly discovered the world of difference between journalism (the kind of freelance writing I do) and blogging, when I threw up my own blog about a year ago. I write about a wide array of topics in my freelance writing for magazines, while my blog is a passion project about being an urban girl birder. Here at my website I feature only the birding-related content I have produced.
First, let me qualify the blogging audience I write for. I'm writing for female birder novices my age and younger, and appealing to them (you!) in a way that is recognizable if you follow fashion/style/travel/beauty blogs: through your vanity, and aspiration to not miss out on fun!
Yup, I admit it, pretty basic! But let me assure you, I am one of you too. So take it as a compliment that I am writing for you. I'm filling a void out there on the ether that no other birder girl has yet filled. Someone has gotta do it.
A lot of birding blogs are deadly serious and focus only on the birds. They have beautiful photos and detailed accounts of trips in the field. But if you're a beginner, that stuff can go over your head, and be intimidating. I want to cover the whole experience of the birding life, to make it accessible and welcoming. Not that birding is scary, but it does have a bit of a learning curve. I'm here to offer the fun and lighthearted side to what can sometimes come off as an experts-only club.
Please do not doubt my focused intent however; I've written about more serious stuff--social issues, parenting, child development, health care. As a journalist I wear one hat, and as a blogger, another one altogether.
So, what are the differences? I liken the contrast between journalism and blogging like an adult reliving her teenage years. Below are some of my observations as a writer in both genres:
- Journalism is about covering the world outside myself, while blogging is totally about me. Journalism is bringing attention to the events going on around us, while blogging is about being the most popular girl in my niche.
- No one cares about what you look like or how you live your life in journalism, while in order to be an influential blogger, I have to be photogenic and willing to share my personal life.
- Freelance journalism mostly pays by the word, while blogging doesn't earn me anything unless I am willing to do sponsored posts or a trade for guest blogging (I don't do sponsored posts and I will only guest blog for some kind of compensation, out of both the need to make a living and just plain moral standing for people like me with a real skill to offer).
- Journalism is about pitching stories to editors; getting an "OK" for an idea before even writing the story. Blogging is a leap of faith that readers will like what I write, without knowing (or paying me) in advance.
- Journalists are compulsive writers, while bloggers are compulsive documentarians of whatever it is they blog about; not all of them are innate writers.
- Journalists research, interview and quote sources for their stories. They abide by the Associated Press or Chicago Manual of Style standards for writing. I try to do the same with my blogging, but I notice there is mostly no such journalistic standard for blogging. It is a looser platform.
As a writer who posts blog content, I approach it seriously, as if I am writing an article. I agree with the concepts found at Make a Living Writing, and this article in particular about this same topic. By the way, MLW is a great site for anyone interested in making it in the freelance writing life.
In short, know that I am coming from a trained background with intent to share what is accurate and true, while also offering something entertaining. Share with me your thoughts if you have a minute!