Cracking Retirement My Blog Magazine or Diary?

My Blog – Magazine or Diary?

Is my blog a magazine or diary? When I started my blog I didn’t really dig too deep into my reasons for doing so. I felt there was a gap in the world of retirement blogs, particularly in the UK. Had I got a plan for what I wanted to say, or what I felt my ‘voice’ would be? I am afraid not. I had certainly read rather a lot of blogs, many particularly on frugal topics, money saving, early retirement etc, and thought ‘ I could do this’. I find the topic interesting. I quite like writing, as in burbling, rather than writing, as in a professional author’s carefully crafted word-smithing, where words and paragraphs are deeply considered before being finalised. Light-hearted reading, rather than deep serious thought.

Define a BLOG

According to the online dictionary , BLOG is short for weBLOG. It can be a noun – I need to update my blog or a verb – I haven’t blogged recently…

I found this neat overview of the term ‘blog’  Blogs started life as online diaries. People posted their daily thoughts, life, all sorts. The blog itself has expanded, almost as a form of  literature with a lot of different genres, themes and formats. Indeed Blogs are fast being overtaken by Vlogs. More frequently people don’t sit down and read books, they browse short articles on the web, or watch short videos. Add into that mix what is known as Social Media – Instagram, Pinterest, Facebook etc.

How to waste an afternoon – search for a blog on any theme, click the first link you come to, then the next, and keep going. At one stage someone will post an entry to a VLog, and then you’ll be sidetracked by a load of YouTube offerings. Before you know it, you will have spent 3 hours glued to a computer screen, be it phone, tablet or old fashioned monitor. Has it been productive? Are you better informed? Sometimes but not always. You will have been ‘amused’… By amuse, I use the online  Online Oxford English Dictionary   definition of ‘provide interesting and enjoyable occupation’ 

Cracking REtirement OED Definition of Amuse
Oxford English Definition of Amuse

My Blog Theme

The strapline for this blog is about Having Fun in Retirement. Living Life in Retirement to the full. I blog about making the most of my money, travelling far and wide and making the most of retirement in general.

I last looked at my Blog Theme in  February, so in the context of this blog more than half a lifetime ago. I still don’t want to get too focused on a single niche. When I started I was more on the ‘money in retirement’ side, so I debated whether I would make this a ‘money’ blog, but I decided I wanted to cover more than that, including life in retirement, my love of travel, and my enjoyment of my hobby – metalwork. As time has gone on, I find myself blogging only a little about my metalwork hobby. I do a fair bit of ‘what happened today’ things. I have done a lot of money saving posts. I wouldn’t say though, that it was a money blog, however it is certainly a very important aspect. Equally I am not sure it is totally a retirement blog either e.g. many of the Money posts I make, are as applicable to a 20 year old as a 60 year old, often more so, so a retirement theme will never reach them. I don’t want to tie myself down…

My Blog – Does it work as a Magazine?

Which brings me back to the reason for the blog post. Is my blog a magazine or a diary? Should it be either? I post a little of what I do, but not very often (Jewellery making, metalwork and travel). It certainly doesn’t tell you much of my life. Could or should it be considered more of a magazine?

If this was an exam question, it would go along the lines of “Is your blog really like the magazine you wish existed? Discuss.” I really like the concept that a blog is just a magazine in a different format. So if my blog is like a monthly / quarterly / annual Fun in Retirement magazine, what sort of features would I expect to see?

I would certainly expect it to contain a fair selection of the following categories

  • Editorial

This is where the Editor gets to expound about whatever he or she feels is appropriate. It is usually pertinent, timely, slightly sharp, pithy or funny depending on the publication.

  • Guest Feature

No magazine would be complete without a Celebrity Guest Feature, maybe not quite glossy magazine celebrity, but appropriate to the magazine context. It is often the feature / picture on the front cover that sells the magazine when it is on the shelves in the magazine stall.

  • Money Matters

The vast majority of magazines I have ever read usually have a money section tucked away somewhere. It might be how to make money, grow the money you have or indeed spend it. It will be accurate, precise, and make you want to consider taking action on your own finances.  It could be money saving tips, it could be a heavy duty investment discussion, it could be considering changing an aspect of your life that.

  • Travel

This is usually an inspirational feature, to get you excited about the place you are reading about. When you have finished reading it, you will really want to go there. It will be informative, maybe tell you how the writer travelled there, it will tell you about options and activities that are available, it will give you some indication of cost,= and the rationale for the trip.

  • Human Interest / General

Now this could be anything – life with a rescue dog, climbing Everest, a funny story about things going wrong. It could be a cookery idea for produce in season. Just one of those days – who knows?

  • Quiz

Now if this was a teenage magazine, it would have a multi-choice questionnaire on your attractiveness to your partner. In this case, given the retirement theme, it could be how well informed money-wise you are, it could be a health one, etc

  • Health

A common theme of retirees is keeping healthy, so this would be on keeping healthy, taking exercise, losing weight. Some of which I am not very good at!

  • Hobbies, Charity Work, Volunteering, Giving Back

Once you are retired, you need to have an idea what you will spend your time on. So this section would include ideas to consider

Many of these themes I already cover, but I do think a couple of ‘celebrity’ guest posts would really work well – so I now have to persuade some of my fellow bloggers to support ‘the poor relation’ in blogging terms, but they would really add to the attractiveness of the ‘magazine’. My monthly volumes are a percentage point of the number of their views, but boy, would the gold dust rub off on me!

For the hobbies / volunteering, I may well ask some of my ‘friends’ (they may be online or physical) to contribute from their sphere of expertise. It would certainly give a different aspect. e.g I am a governor at a UK university (one of the reasons I don’t blog publicly), but universities are always on the lookout for well qualified people to do a 3 or 4 year term on their board. They bring a different range of expertise, and their input is really valued. Given so much of a university’s offering is now dependent on social media, someone with a background / experience of multiple social media applications is just as valuable as a lawyers or doctors. (Better still, someone who has both!)

Money matters, I am happy to start a general conversation, but so many people post articles with amazing detail, that I think I will defer to them. e.g. want a UK focus on money, I can’t do better than recommend Mike at 7 Circles. He is way above the rest! Also Monevator    His weekly newsletters are so informative, they really are worth signing up for. (And no, they haven’t paid me for this free comment – I read and enjoy both!) As for general cost saving, frugal – I’m pretty good at that, having had many years of scrimping and saving through need, as much as desire!

Travel, I am always up for a guest post. I recently joined (yet another) forum and many of them are travel bloggers, I am sure I can get a guest post or two. However, I have quite a few of my own… I did one of these strange online quizzes recently and I think I had visited more than 35 countries, from China to Peru and many places in between!

Health, I fail miserably at, as I am heavier than I would like to be and drink more wine than I should, but on exercise I am pretty good – I generally walk 3-4 miles most days… Maybe I should go back to the gym, at least then I would swim more. I’m not like Fritz at The Retirement Manifesto who is into cold water swimming – I did that loads in my youth, now I am older, I like a bit of warmth, either in a swimming pool or in the Caribbean! A friend who retired suddenly started taking on Ironman challenges, and this is a man who I am fairly sure never ran a mile before that! when I next saw him a few months later, he had shed loads of weight, looked good but also a little tired. So maybe there is something in ‘phase it in!’

My Blog – does it work as a Diary?

I don’t think it does. It doesn’t tell you, the reader, much about me the person,  or indeed what I do on a day to day basis. (Not helped by the fact that I blog anonymously). I don’t want to make it into a diary either. I don’t think it would be particularly interesting. It certainly wouldn’t work as a travelog, although I will try out more travel focused posts when I am in Madrid (only 6 weeks to go!)

What Next?

I have decided, or rather talked my self into the concept that my blog is more of a magazine rather than a diary. In fact, I really like the idea. I have a clean sheet of paper, so I can make it what I want to be – I am the author, editor and reporter all rolled up in one….

I really need to sit down and do a little more planning. Today my posts are decided on what I feel like on the day, rather than it is August, so I am due a post on x. When I look at my list of blogs on WordPress, I have a total of 81 posts, of which 21 are draft, which says that I throw away 1 idea in 4. Not very productive to say the least. Even as I write my posts, they evolve into something very different from the concept I started with.

The best thing though about this post, is that it has given me real food for thought. If this was a magazine – what would make a reader pick it off the shelf? For me, when I am buying a magazine – half the decision is the front cover, some the blurb on the contents page, and a quick scan of the articles. Is the writing a style that I like? Are there interesting photographs?

So if I were choosing to read a blog article – why would I read mine?

Quite a deep question to finish on!

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  1. Very good questions to ask – I find myself asking the same things! I write 2 blogs and am working on a third, and sometimes I feel like they’re in a holding pattern until I figure out their true focus. I’m going for one as a magazine and one as a… well… I don’t know yet! 😁

    1. Thanks Lee- I don’t know how you manage to run three blogs. I struggle enough with one! Some blogs have a very clear cut focus, others less so. I think the magazine theme might make me do different things which will force me out of my comfort zone!

  2. Great post, Erith. I’ve never stopped to consider what my blog actually is. As you said, there are so many others out there that do brilliant jobs in the informational space, why would I want to compete with them?

    Breaking it down into the magazine sections is really insightful. I can see how your blog coves most of these already. For the record, I enjoy your travel posts; the ones where you talk about what you’ve been up to in the month (with local pictures); and your jewellery.

    1. Thanks Mrs ETT, that is really helpful feedback, I’ll bear that in mind as I move forward. I’ve learned such a lot in the last nine months!

  3. Erith, great that you’re taking some time for self-reflection as your blog evolves. The beautiful thing about blogging is that you can make it anything YOU want to. (Oh, I also relate TOTALLY to: “Even as I write my posts, they evolve into something very different from the concept I started with.” Ditto here, my friend).

    1. thanks Fritz. I agree it is great that where the path of the blog goes is entirely up to me. A bit more thinking still to go! No rush though.

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