How to Become a Political Blogger

by John Sides on November 19, 2011 · 5 comments

in Blogs

A new book by Tanni Haas interviews 20 political bloggers and gets their thoughts.  Here is one from Tyler Cowen on how to have a successful blog:

It needs to be updated regularly and to some extent be self-critical or self-reflective. And the person should read widely on the Web. That’s a requirement. There are some very smart bloggers who shall remain nameless. They don’t read other blogs or respond to them, and I find what they produce to be a little bit backwards. So it’s important to be on the frontier of the debate in the political blogosphere.

And Matt Yglesias:

It’s especially important, in terms of quality, to ask why people would be reading it. What do you know that other bloggers don’t know? What value is being provided? This is especially important if you’re new and don’t have an institution backing you. People are instinctively going to be a little bit wary. So you really have to find subjects you’re knowledgeable about, and deliver information that, if other people link to you, they don’t wind up looking like idiots.

The book is here.  See also Cowen’s thoughts here.


Andrew Gelman November 19, 2011 at 9:34 pm

My recommendation is to start your blog around 2002 or 2003, when all the bloggers were linking to each other. Either that or write a lot about topics such as multilevel models and the right way to label your x and y-axes. I’ve heard that readers just can’t get enough of that stuff.

More seriously, I’m not happy with the title of Hass’s book, “Making It In The Political Blogosphere: The World’s Top Political Bloggers Share The Secrets To Success.” I haven’t seen the book, so maybe the title is ironic, but it disturbs me if it’s meant seriously. One great thing about blogs is that they’re not about “making it” or “success”; they’re about participating in a conversation.

Washingtonian November 19, 2011 at 11:21 pm

So, what is he value that yglesias provides that we couldn’t get anywhere else?

andrew long November 19, 2011 at 11:41 pm

In fact Yglesias most often provides his readers with something so unique they probably haven’t experienced it since grade school: he makes them feel good that they know how to spell.

andrew long November 19, 2011 at 11:38 pm

This needed to be a book? Not even an e-book? Totally lame.

LFC November 20, 2011 at 4:12 pm

My recommendation is to start your blog around 2002 or 2003


The case of academic blogs like The Monkey Cage is a little bit different, but for a more general blogger, with or without academic credentials, who aims to cover several subjects and/or just sound off (in an informed or uninformed way), doubtless one of the best predictors of audience size is when the blog was started. As a general rule, the earlier started, the more eyeballs and commenters. (I’m sure there are exceptions, of course.)

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