Thursday, February 24, 2005


Continuing from yesterday's amusing email, there seems to be some amount of general disgruntlement throughout parts of the blogosphere about people receiving appropriate credit and recognition, some green-eyed monster sniping at the "big bloggers," some kvetching about the Koufax awards (the most transparent and open awards process in the universe - it's an excuse for community, people, not the Pulitzers), along with the usual mutterings that your Pet Issue isn't the #1 topic in the blogosphere, etc...

While fully acknowledging that nothing and no one is beyond criticism, that people have perfectly valid complaints about things, that with great power comes great responsibility, and that the world is not the perfect meritocracy we all imagine it to be, at some point I have to say - get the fuck over yourselves and ask yourselves why you're doing this.

I ran this blog a long time before I made a cent off of it. I never expected to make a cent off of it. I hoped to have an impact - but I've always been more than happy for people to steal my stuff. In the past I've happily encouraged writers/reporters/editors to take stuff without crediting me. There's still no better way to deligitimize a story in the mainstream press than to credit it to "some guy on the internet you've never heard of." Practically every time that happens it becomes a story about bloggers, rather than a story about the story - whatever it is. It's the collective small impacts I perceive this blog - and Left Blogistan generally - that I'm happy about, not for the most part the "scalps" or the "big stories bloggers unearth." My tendency is almost always to pull back on a story once it's "out there" rather than to jump all over it and try to make it my own. The satisfaction is in seeing the impact, not in getting credit.

I quite enjoy doing this and the interesting detour my life has taken, but being a "blog celebrity" isn't actually the glamorous thing some seem to imagine it to be. Aside from the fact that I spend an inordinate amount of time at my computer, not a glamorous way to spend one's time, my life is fairly normal. I haven't yet been invited to go to Vegas with Ben Affleck, and have rarely been seen hanging out with the "cool kids" of any stripe. Increasingly, even people who come to the weekly Drinking Liberally - ones who have found out about it through some source other than this blog - don't even know "who I am," and if told don't particularly care and aren't impressed.

The point is that this has never been about self-promotion, and while I'm extraordinarily grateful for all of the ways I've been compensated for doing this (financial and otherwise), it's never really been the motivation.

And, let me add to that the occasional advice to newer bloggers:

1) Don't send me an email saying "read my blog." I won't. If you want to get my interest, send me something interesting. If you have something interesting, it'll get noticed and linked. Have enough interesting things, people will start coming back on their own to look for it, and you'll have a larger regular readership.

2) What's interesting? Your opinion on stuff by itself isn't really interesting to anyone except your friends. If you're funny, or you write well, or you actually know something, or can make a good argument, or are good at unearthing interesting and relevant tidbits, that's interesting.

3) One things blogs do is act as news aggregators/filters and places for discussion. You may be an excellent news aggregator/filter, but that's a pretty crowded market. That's one place where being an early entrant helps. If you want to distinguish your blog, you need to have some additional interesting original content.

4) Don't create a spam list and send out every blog post to the list. We all get too much email. Send me something you think that I would be interested in. It's personal. I don't cover every issue under the sun. Nobody else does either.

5) Don't just focus on trying to get a link from me, or Kos, or Instapundit, or whatever. If you have something good, send it to blogs with somewhat less, but still decent traffic. They probably get less email than we do. s

6) Establishing a large regular readership takes a lot of time, no matter how brilliant and persistent you are. And, persistence is key. While some fairly popular bloggers post inconsistently, most people with a large regular readership post at least daily. People will click on your site more often if they think there's a good chance there will be something new to look at.