Customer service for busy readers: Kotiblogit is a new printed publication that brings the best Finnish blogs together inside the covers of one magazine.
The Internet is a place where regular and occasional bloggers compete for readers. The Finnish magazine Kotiblogit ("Home Blogs") offers a surprising alternative for bloggers: publishing blogs in print.
Blogging is a phenomenon that millions of people around the world are familiar with. Blogs have evolved into a handy channel for people to talk freely about their lives or personal interests, without any limitations. At the same time, blogs have also become a more valued asset in the workplace. Employees are expected to write free-form texts about their job. Our company is no different: there are a number of blogs on our website, providing an inside look into the workings of a forest industry company.
Eeva Ek is a Finnish publisher who has long been drawn to blogs. There was just one problem: lack of time. "There are over 100,000 Finnish blogs out there. Some of them are short-lived, while others persist for years. It is impossible to get an idea of the entire scene. I realised that there were some true gems among the blogs, but I didn't have the time to follow up on them after a day at the office," Ek says.
When Ek started publishing the gardening magazine Terassi ("Terrace") a few years ago, she was contacted by numerous bloggers. This deepened Ek's interest in blogs. Then she had an epiphany: she would launch a new magazine to bring together the best blogs.
Our readers love the way that bloggers put themselves out there and open their hearts without being too polished. It creates a feeling of equality," says. Eeva Ek, Executive editor, Kotiblogit magazine.
The publishing team selected different themes for the magazine. The goal was to offer a rich variety of blogs mainly aimed at working women who don't have the time to endlessly surf the Internet. The team was surprised by the great success of the magazine. It even inspired Ek to publish one issue with blogs entirely aimed at men. Five issues of Kotiblogit will be released in 2017.
The principle behind the magazine is simple: the editorial staff combs the Internet for different types of high-quality blogs, contacts the bloggers and asks whether they would like their blog to be featured in print. The collaboration is not based on money, as the bloggers allow their texts and images to be used in the magazine free of charge.
"The bloggers can decide for themselves what they want to include in the material they deliver to us. We help them with the editing, because correct language is expected in print," Ek explains.
The printed magazine has proved an exciting experience for many of the bloggers. Having your own home featured on the cover of a magazine, for example, is something to remember.
The bloggers hope to gain more exposure and new readers for their blogs. These hopes are often realised, and the bloggers are sometimes also contacted by advertisers and publishers. "I know of several cases where book deals have been suggested," Ek says.
During the process of launching the magazine, Ek searched the global market for examples of combining blogs and print. She did not find any similar publications. "Kotiblogit is a very Finnish invention," she notes.
Food in focus
Alexander Trivedi from Helsinki was one of the bloggers featured in the Kotiblogit magazine in the spring. His text was about picnicking. He is a professional chef who also writes a blog focused on food. His blog Aitoa arkiruokaa ("Authentic everyday food") offers recipes written from a topical perspective.
Trivedi has been blogging for about a year and a half. He works as a chef in the demonstration kitchen at Stockmann, the most well-known department store in Helsinki, where his job involves putting commercial recipes into practice.
Blog writing provides Trivedi with an outlet to be himself. "If you want to get somewhere in your career, you have to be active and advertise yourself. A blog is a live CV, where you can also include pictures," Trivedi muses. He shares the blogging experience with his girlfriend. Trivedi prepares the food and writes the recipes, but the couple take the photographs together. The authenticity of the photos is important to the duo, and they perform less editing on the pictures than most magazines do.
The food blogger observes some differences between online and print publishing. One example is that questions and comments sent online can be answered quickly, but in a printed magazine this is not possible. "For print, you have to consider the subject matter more carefully and leave no stone unturned. The instructions have to be very clear. Magazine articles provide an opportunity for a lot of learning and development," Trivedi says.
Trivedi says that the experience with print "warmed his mind". The professional layout also added a diverse new perspective to the material.
Travel tales and lifestyle blogging
The travel blog Lähtöportti ("Departure gate") and the lifestyle blog Sopusointuja ("Harmonies") have also been published on the pages of the Kotiblogit magazine. Mika Väistö writes the first and Maarit Veromaa the latter. They have both been blogging for a year and a half.
Väistö's blog contains a well-informed combination of facts and personal experiences. "I have been writing travel tales for my own amusement over the years and I'm now editing them into the blog format. It's important to write about experiences while they are fresh, but if I have no new experiences to report, I can always pick a story from my previous travels," Väistö explains. His blog always gets a great number of readers when he writes about destinations close to home: in Finland or Sweden.
Väistö has worked as a copywriter and is familiar with the processes involved in making a magazine. Getting his own article printed was a pleasant experience. The magazine was nicely laid out and he was happy with the end result. "Blogs are a channel for telling stories in the first person. In general, blogs are more of a personification of their writers than magazine articles. In my blogs, you can see my personality peeking out from between the lines," Väistö says. "I have great respect for print and like to read certain travel magazines on paper. I prefer to read longer stories in print," Väistö continues.
Maarit Veromaa writes a diary-type blog about a variety of topics, such as women's style , travel and home decor. Part of the reason why she started blogging was encouragement from her circle of friends. Veromaa had lots of great tips and recipes that brought joy to a lot of people. "I am a practical and easily excited person, and I have a lot to share with others. The texts are born quite easily," Veromaa says.
However, blogging takes time, and the topics have to be planned carefully. Leaving working life behind has provided a long-awaited opportunity to focus on writing and photography.
A rise in traffic
Veromaa's blogs have been featured in the Kotiblogit magazine twice already. "It felt lovely to hear that my blog had been noticed and that I was invited to take part. I think that print and social media have different readerships. It's likely that the magazine has brought more traffic to my site. In January 2017 I had 100,000 visitors, and by the end of March there were 50,000 more," Veromaa says.
Veromaa writes in a conversational tone online, but for print she had to put on her reporter hat, so to speak. "Anyone can write anything online, but not everything is considered worth printing. When they asked me, my initial thought was 'Wow, my text has now been accepted for a magazine!' You have to write more carefully for print, so I took a much more critical approach," Veromaa explains. "There is greater significance in print than online. I think print adds more credibility to the text."
Text: Helen Moster