Thursday, August 23, 2007

Political Blogging Effectiveness Tips

People start blogging for many different reasons, personally I started the praguetory blog to float some policy ideas and have them challenged, but a major reason that people continue to blog is related to ego. There is a very fine line between blogging effectiveness and blogging addiction. Being an effective blogger means that your posts are influential, other bloggers react when you comment at their sites and people want to know more about you. That’s a kind of power and power is addictive.

Even before setting up a blog, most people spend some time being a commenter on other blogs. Even at this stage, which is the internet equivalent of dipping your toe in the water, you can develop a reputation and your curiosity or ego will likely tempt you to check back on comment threads to which you’ve contributed. So when I share my top tips on how to be an effective blogger, remember that I’m also describing a route to addiction. Ok that’s enough public service. Here's my top 5 tips for blogging effectiveness.

1. Set up a blogroll. This should be easy – if you link to blogs you like, your readers will probably like them too so you’re doing everyone a service. Don’t pester them, but you can tell your blogroll that you’ve linked to them. They might reciprocate the link which will increase your traffic. Another idea with blogroll is to group similar sites together. For example, if your site will be focusing on a local community, it would probably be a good idea to give a section of your blogroll to useful local links. On my site, I had a law and order section ,a health section and an education section because those were topics of interest to me which I occasionally posted on.

2. Set up google and other alerts for your blog. This might include your blog name or topics that you’d like to cover, so for example, if you’ve decided to focus on the environment, you could set up a google alert for Hillary Benn the environment secretary and also be notified by the theyworkforyou website each time he speaks in Parliament.

3. Use feeds. I use bloglines. What you do is subscribe to blogs that interest you and whenever new posts come through they are listed in your feeds. The advantages to this method over haphazard internet surfing are as follows

- You don’t waste your time visiting sites where nothing has happened
- You know you haven’t missed anything
- You can check at a glance whether anything of interest is emerging

The downside is that like any collection, it’s likely to grow over time. I heard of one blogger who said she had a backlog of 2000 posts to go through. I keep my list of feeds down to my top 20.

4. Get yourself on mybloglog that’s Then add the recent visitors feature to your site so that when other mybloglog members visit your site their avatar shows up. It also means that your visits to other sites are more likely to be noticed, even if you don’t comment there.

5. Install a site meter so that you can monitor your site’s progress, where readers come from, what they read and where they go. There’s a perfectly adequate site meter function with mybloglog, but other programmes provide more information.

Monday, August 13, 2007

Top Right Wing Blogs

I've been asked to name my 50 favourite conservative blogs for Iain Dale. He gave me a long list of right-wing blogs and I added a few faves of my own such as Tuscan Tony. As I don't have time to review all of them, I whittled them down by removing blogs

1. That haven't entered my consciousness (if a Tory like me who has spent the last year on political blogs hasn't heard of it, you can't be marketing it very well)
2. Where comments are disallowed or where debate is rare
3. Where the site is inactive or rarely updated
4. Written by journalists/organisations or ghost writers.
5. I don't like

Here's the shortlist. You're all great.

A Very British Dude
Archbishop Cranmer
Bel is Thinking
Birmingham University CF
Burning our Money
Caroline Hunt
City Unslicker
Conservative Home
Contra Tory
Daily Referendum
David Gold
David Jones MP
Dizzy Thinks
Donal Blaney
Ellee Seymour
Esther McVey
Ghost of the Hitch
Glyn Davies
Guido Fawkes
Iain Dale
Islington Newmania
Istanbul Tory
James Cleverly
John Moorcraft
John Redwood MP
Laban Tall
Last Boy Scout
Looking for a Voice
Man in a Shed
Matt Wardman
Matthew Scott
Mr Eugenides
Nadine Dorries MP
Not Proud of Britain
Nourishing Obscurity
Phil Taylor
Pub Philosopher
Rachel Joyce
Reactionary Snob
Remittance Man
Roger Helmer MEP
Sam Tarran
Sinclair's Musings
Tapestry Talks
The Bristow Blog
Theo Spark
Thoughts from the Borders
Thunder Dragon
Tom Paine
Tory Heaven
Tory Radio
Tuscan Tony
UK Daily Pundit
Unenlightened Commentary
Waendel Journal
West Brom Blog

As an experiment in the impact of linking, please let me know in my comments if you visited here as a result of this link.

I'll only be online intermittently until about 20 August so don't expect instant replies to any comments.

Saturday, August 4, 2007

High Level Ingredients For Successful Political Blogging

I think there are 5 key ingredients in order to be a successful political blogger. In order of importance;

Focus/Subject Matter Expertise - Matt Wardman has suggested modelling yourself on a backbench MP having two or three "bee in your bonnet" issues. Whilst breadth of posts can be a good thing, there should be certain issues on which you can take the role of authority. If you can't demonstrate some expertise or unique insight, building a readership will be like trying to roll a snowman in the Sahara.

PR - Because it's the internet your site has to make an immediate impact so that visitors know within seconds what your blog is all about. Guido manages this. You should also be aware of the importance of exchanging links and commenting on other blogs. An interesting ID/pseudonym (like Praguetory or Peter Hitchens) attracts traffic, too.

Time - What you see on a blog is like an iceberg. A great deal of research, networking and planning goes on behind the scenes. If you don't have a great deal of time, you need to think carefully about what aims having a blog could achieve.

Psychology/Arguing - The moment you set up a political website you will have created legions of instant supporters/enemies (particularly if you choose a provocative blog name). You need to be able to handle criticism warranted and otherwise and should spend some time honing debating skills so that you are aware of how to argue effectively online.

Writing - It's easy to carried away when you're writing about a subject that interests you. Be aware of the readability of what you have written. It's an unfortunate correlation that the more difficult something is to read the more respected the commenter is, but I still think you should tend towards conversational writing when blogging.

Thursday, August 2, 2007

Top Blog Referrers

Blog % Of Traffic
1. IAIN DALE 16.3%
8. BIASED BBC 1.9%

Since recording stats (since Oct 2006) here's a list of my top blog referrers. These stats were compiled by adding together all the hits from unique incoming links referring more than 10 readers. There were 145 such blogs, but the top 10 above made up 60.1% of this type of inward traffic. Interestingly, the top 30 referrers provided 79.7% of my hits in a fairly powerful example of the 80/20 rule.

Other points of note are as follows;

- Iain's, Guido's, Dizzy's and Croydonian's standing links to me were particularly active.
- Con Home and Biased BBC traffic came mainly from links highlighting particular posts.
- The amount of traffic from Inspector Gadget surprised me. He's only been going a year and he isn't even that prolific. I think this demonstrates the appetite for work blogs and I would suggest that it hints at a tendency amongst political bloggers to under-estimate the popularity of non-political blogs.
- Paul Burgin is my only left-leaning top ten entry, but then again not many lefties have had a standing link to me.