The Role of Economic Bloggers

Tomorrow I will head for the Kauffman Foundation Economic Bloggers Forum. The program is very interesting and includes many panelists whom I frequently cite. I look forward to meeting and talking with some blogging colleagues. There is a web link for people who want to keep tabs on the proceedings.

Successful Economic Blogging

My viewpoint on economic blogging is not really reflected on the conference panels. That is fine; I will watch and learn. Meanwhile, the keys to successful blogging are readily understood.

There is real tension. What stimulates traffic may lack merit. What has strong and objective content may seem uninteresting. This is the balance that one has to find when writing a blog. But before you worry about that, you first need to design and create your website. If you use a program like WordPress to create your blog, you might want to have a look at some wordpress hosting uk options that can make the blog creation process much easier for you.

Building a Successful Blog

There is a well-known formula for building a successful blog:

  1. Be opinionated and controversial;
  2. Make a lot of posts; have an opinion on everything;
  3. Be irreverent and sassy;
  4. Connect with your readers — in ideology, viewpoint, and language;
  5. Get a lot of comments going, since people return to argue the threads;
  6. All of this results in more page views — the ultimate measure.

The Result

Should we be surprised that economic blogging reflects the audience? To make sure any blog and social platforms are performing well, it’s important to keep an eye on its analytics. The analytics will show you what posts are being viewed the most and if anyone is commenting on it, as well as other key statistics. Depending on which platform you’re using for your blog and social platforms, there might already be an insights tools built into the platform. If not, you can always try and other tools like it to make sure your content is performing the way you want it to.

For economists, the rules of fact-checking and citing sources apply more than ever in the digital space. In a data and statistic driven industry, it follows that facts and figures need to be linked back to their original sources in order for a blog to be seen as trustworthy. Furthermore, for obvious reasons, readers of all types of content deserve valid information from reliable sources. Ultimately, to truly succeed as an economic blogger, it therefore makes sense that citing a website properly should be a priority.

There is a Darwinian process. The audience “endorses” certain viewpoints. A blog may have thousands of readers, but only a few comments. These comments often reflect an extreme viewpoint. Any author who has attempted to write an analytical, neutral article has had this experience. It is wise to ignore, but the human reaction is to adapt. For this reason, some blogs have drifted, losing value over time. The authors are too interested in building an audience and not concerned enough with their message.

This process has created an interesting result and unfortunate result. Some bloggers at the pinnacle of success in terms of popularity really have little fresh analysis. Each day, like a host on talk radio, they reinforce the predispositions of their audience. Meanwhile, some of the strongest economists (the real ones) have almost no audience. This can be helped with services to draw people to their blogs via other social media, such as an instagram growth injection, and oftentimes this can then be a cause for the tide to turn for a blog delivering that sharp analysis.

Journalists, however, cannot seem to tell the difference. Faced with the question of determining what makes sense, they look to the blogs that are the most popular. Briefly put, instead of informing the public, most current journalists simply cater to the online audience. In a time of cutbacks, this should not be a surprise.

The consequence is that the economic blogosphere is just as distorted as the famous poll that predicted Dewey over Truman. It reflects an audience that is over-represented in the following ways: wealthy, libertarian, conservative, Republican, anti-government, and cynical.

Is it any surprise that these blogs (according to the Pragmatic Capitalist) have been too bearish?


It will be interesting to see leading bloggers engage face-to-face. The dynamic is much different in person. I expect to learn a great deal, and I’ll try to report what I learn.

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One comment

  • Stevie Stevo March 20, 2010  

    Wait, when and why would a journalist look to the blogs? It seems to me that it’s the other way around. Like this weekend. Thing is, bloggers don’t leave their house–journalists, on the other hand, deliver the goods, doing stuff like interviewing Congressman and reporting on the hectic health care vote transpiring this weekend.
    And I have always found the “economic” blogs to be liberally biased, but perhaps that’s because every third article they write are about the evil bankers or the economists who failed to predict the future. And I would think the Republican and “wealthy” audience get their news from the,, and places like that, all of which have plenty of “analysis” and running commentary on their editorial pages.
    Even still, most economists are Republicans and anti-government–kind of hard to be a proponent of stuff like minimum wage when your model is staring you in the face, with a big fat triangle showing the clear reduction in worker demand that unfortunately results.