To my blogging brethren: advice on political blogging (from people who know)

Here I shall through my political blogging brethren a bone, since that’s just the guy I am. I read a book recently that has provided a lot of useful and compelling insight into the world of political blogging, whether doing so as a hobby or a profession, from twenty industry luminaries such as Ben Smith, Arianna Huffington, Matthew Yglesias, and Taegen Goddard, among many others. Both liberal and conservative perspectives are well represented, along with a few libertarians and many centrists and independents, all from recognized and established blogs. Some are independent, and some blog under the umbrella of professional longstanding and reputable news organizations.

The book is called Making it in the Political Blogosphere and is written by Tanni Haas, a professor at the City University of New York, Brooklyn College. It is written in the style of an interview, Haas posing questions to his interviewees and summarizing their credentials and their place in the blogging world, where appropriate. It is a very easy-to-understand format, and the volume itself is slim, probably readable in an afternoon or two. But there is no better advice than from those who have been there and done it. So if you’re trying to go professional, or just want to take your hobby to the next level, I highly recommend it.

Probably the most helpful question posed to each blogger is what advice they would give to aspiring bloggers, and what mistakes do they often see inexperience bloggers make. The answers vary to some degree, depending on the person and their subject matter and style of blogging, but the one suggestion that was consistent through almost every answer was that if you’re  serious about it, you must blog often. Multiple posts a day. They must also be of high quality. Both quality and quantity are equally important, and it would be hard to say that either one trumps the other. When starting out, it is also very important to find a particular niche and fill it. Pick a particular topic, or a unique way of talking about a narrow range of issues, so that readers have a reason to visit your blog. The most common mistake is new bloggers trying to copy another blogger’s style, or consistently re-posting from the same sight, and regurgitating the same information. This will cause you to fail, the book says. And most suggested that if you’re not serious enough about it to do these things – and more – don’t bother (though from reading between the lines I think was more directed at someone who wants to blog for a living; if you’re doing it as a hobby, and don’t care that much about readership, I don’t see why you couldn’t put exactly as much effort into it as you want to).

It was a helpful, insightful read, and I find myself referring back to it often. If you’re interested, it can be found here for not too much.

(In case you are wondering, I have no connection to the author Tanni Haas whatsoever, and have nothing to gain from promoting this book, monetarily or otherwise. I found the book was helpful to me and thought it might be for others.)

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