One of my blog readers sent me a writer’s comment on the art of blogging. Barry Ritholtz has been producing a financial blog, Big Picture, for over 10 years. As chief investment officer of Ritholtz Wealth Management and the author of Bailout Nation, the writer has credentials which account for the number of his followers. But that’s only part of the story. As he wryly admits. “it only takes a decade or so to become an overnight sensation.” http://www.ritholtz.com/blog/ (His post of 9/19/14)
The Ritzholtz piece my reader sent wasn’t about making a buck, however. It was about the art of writing a blog. His first observation was an old saw but still true. A good way to become a better writer is to practice. The more a person writes, the faster words flow and the tighter the structure. Anyone can burble through a long article. The art is to keep the text compact and lean. Editing is a crucial factor. As he says, good writing takes place in the rewrite.
Blogging is a meritocracy, Ritholtz points out. A successful blogger doesn’t require important contacts or an ivy league tie. Success has everything to do with having something to say and saying it well. To be honest, most bloggers rarely make money from their trade but Ritholtz thinks that’s okay. Money can be a distraction. He doesn’t spell out why, but I can guess. Once a blogger starts to follow the money, he or she loses focus. Satisfying the expectations of advertisers can make a blog stale.
Like Ritholtz I’ve been writing a blog for a few years and agree that the effort requires discipline and work as well as long hours and a healthy dose of self criticism. Why do it if no money is involved? The answer is simple. Writing hones the mind, enhances self expression and, if the blog is effective, people stop by with comments and clippings. My guess is that many a popular blogger owes much his or her success to readers’ contributions.