Welcome to the first part of a new weekly series on political blogging which is being run on Lib Dem Voice between now and Christmas. It’s designed primarily to be an introduction for anyone thinking of starting a political blog, but packed full of enough information to be useful for existing bloggers too.
If the series is a success, it will be turned it into a pdf e-book afterwards, putting all the advice together in one convenient document. There will be a chance to revise the posts before collating them, so you’re even more welcome than usual to post comments to the individual posts adding in extra ideas or highlighting sections that didn’t seem clear.
Many thanks to the various bloggers I’ve approached who agreed to contribute to the series, and a particular thanks to Jonathan Calder for having sparked the conversation that turned an old vague idea into a series that is actually happening. Also thank you to those I’ve yet to ask but who will soon be saying yes too…
As a final word of introduction, if you get inspired by these posts and think of starting your own blog, please do feel welcome to make use of either the comments thread or the Forum to get any further advice or help you may be after for your own particular situation.
All of this of course assumes blogging might be a worthwhile way to spend some of your time. So what might the point of blogging be?
Blogging can be fun: I’ve recently started doing a post each Monday morning over on my own blog highlighting an odd quote from Hansard. There’s only one reason for doing this: I like hunting out the quotes and I hope a few other people will find them amusing too. But even if no-one else reads them, I still get fun out of the quote hunting.
Blogging gives you a voice: Just because you have a blog that doesn’t mean the world will immediately start reading it, though future posts in this series will help you on the way to an audience at least the size of Lichtenstein. But if you want other people to hear your views, making a success of a blog is one of the best routes to take.
Many people in the party – from the passive supporter who gives a donation once a year through to Nick Clegg himself – read blogs, as do journalists of both national and local variety, people in other parties and so on. Make a success of your blog and all of those and more could be reading your words.
Some of the more successful bloggers even often have their stories picked up by the national media. That may be a little way off when you write your first post – but remember many of those people have not been blogging for that long. It doesn’t take years to join their ranks.
Blogging can help you win elections: If you decide to have a blog aimed primarily at the public (rather than at fellow Liberal Democrats), it can build up a local audience in your ward or constituency that is a major boost to our other campaigning in the area.
Blogging may not win elections on its own but when done well it does help – and Lynne Featherstone gives her blogging and other online campaigning a key role in explaining why she is now an MP.
Blogging can be a good way of learning a skill: One style of blogging is to take news from other places and then write up a story about that news. Being able to quickly but accurately grasp a story, find something interesting to say about it and write it up in a clear and compelling way is a skill that is useful in many other contexts, such as writing news releases, stories for political leaflets or even producing a staff newsletter at work. There are tips and tricks unique to each of these areas, but there is a common skill across them all.
The above list isn’t comprehensive and with future posts from other bloggers, you’ll pick up a flavour of the diversity of motivations and methods there are – even amongst Liberal Democrat bloggers. In the meantime, do think about whether blogging may be for you.
Next week: how to get started with blogging, including deciding which blogging platform to use.