Over the past five years, political blogs (especially left, progressive and liberal blogs) have exploded, with many attracting significant readership, building virtual communities, and gaining considerable media attention. Among the top blogs in the US is The Huffington Post, a blog started by Arianna Huffington in 2005.
With the explosion of blogs–and the ease at which new blogs can be created–there is a need for any new blog to consider what niche it can fill, and the same goes for political blogs. Writing a general blog on “politics” probably isn’t going garner many readers, but a more narrow focus–say Michigan politics–might. That’s where The Huffington Post Complete Guide to Blogging comes into play–it’s an incredible helpful book for any progressive interested in starting a new blog.
Written by folks who were involved in forming one of the most widely read political blogs, this book gives a lot of important advice. Beginning with a brief overview of what blogs are and their political context, the book moves into a discussion the fundamentals of blogging. The book guides readers through choosing a blogging platform, tools that can be used to make blogging easier, how to organize your blog, and even options for making money from blogging. By far the most useful sections are on how to grow your blog community and develop a unique voice. The book discusses how to deal with abusive commentors, the fundamentals of writing a good blog post, and other topics. Granted, it’s all advice that you could probably find online, but reading it in a single printed book is much easier than piecing together ideas from multiple website.
Unfortunately, the book’s biggest drawback is that story of the Huffington Post’s is one that most political blogs simply are not going to be able to replicate. The blog was started with a substantial infusion of cash and relied on Arianna Huffington’s considerable personal collections. Few people are going to be able to call on former Senators, Hollywood celebrities, and prominent progressive to write for their blog. Similarly, most of us are not going to be able to get the developers of our blog software to fly to our homes for meetings as the Huffington Post crew did when developing their blog on Movable Type. That’s not to say that the Huffington Post’s story isn’t interesting or worth understanding–it is (especially for understanding the role it plays in contemporary politics)–but it’s just not something that most of us can do.
The book ends with a section that highlights some of the best posts on the Huffington Post, which provides a useful look at the kind of stories that can draw significant readership. There is also brief annotated lists to some of the Huffington Post’s favorite blogs (this can be a good resource list for promoting your own blog) and an index of helpful blogging resources.
Overall, The Huffington Post Complete Guide to Blogging is a helpful read for anyone that is considering starting a new blog. Reading the book, taking notes, and then implementing the ideas contained within could save anyone a lot of time when starting a blog. For those who already run their own blogs, the book can also be useful–offering reminders of best practices that we often forget and providing inspiration.
Editors of the Huffington Post, The Huffington Post Complete Guide to Blogging, (Simon & Schuster, 2008).