You want to start a blog.
You’re 17, and you’ve just recently got into politics. You love it. It’s exciting. Opinions have started to form. Your brain is churning out ideas, and you can’t wait to share it all. But how are you going to share it all?
The kids at school don’t care. Politics is boring and dump; sports, celebrities, and relationship drama is where it’s at for them. So school’s not an option. And neither are your friend circles. Friends are great, but they’re not the type of people who would appreciate your passion.
Your family is open and welcome. But you’ve got to move past that. You can’t stay in the kitchen talking to your dad about America’s issues forever.
You’ve got to move on. You’ve got to move on to the next phase. A blog is the next phase. So you go for it. You grab a WordPress account, pick a cool name, and design your blog.
What’s the focus of the blog? What issues will you cover? What will the purpose of the blog be?
Most beginners start off reporting news stories. They talk about recent issues, presidential speeches and capitol hill drama.
But I’m here to tell you to forget the news.
Why would I tell you to do that? Let me outline it for you…
Why Should You Forget About the News?
There’s no shortage of websites that report the news. CNN, Fox News, Bloomberg, etc, etc, etc. They’re all professional journalism sites that report the news, and they do it pretty darn well (for the most part).
Next you have all the curation news sites. They grab news reports from the big names and repost them. These sites have some level of popularity, but not as much as the big name brands.
Then there’s you. You repost news stories from either of the two groups. And unless you take the time to track down leads, interview people, and look into your own stories you’ll just be a news curation site.
We have enough of those sites.
News is great, but it’s only half of the story. News covers the facts.
But facts alone won’t help you. You can’t win with just facts. You can’t be taken seriously with just facts. You can’t do outreach with just facts. Reporting on the news is a waste of resources, especially when you’re starting out. There’s other things you should be focusing on.
What Should You Focus on Instead?
Don’t focus on the news. You’ve got that point down. But what do you focus on instead?
I’ll tell you what you focus on. You focus on informing.
Getting more specific: you focus on teaching, evangelizing, application, and awareness.
Pick a political subject and explain it to your readers. Make it simple and clear. Make sure your readers can understand it and then apply it.
You remember how hard economics was in highschool? Capitalize on that. Make it easy to understand. There’s no reason why it should be hard to wrap your mind around.
Or, you could work on evangelism. Craft the right message to influence, reach and ultimately win people over. These people can be friends, family, or neighbors. They can be peers, coworkers, or your social media following.
If you care about where this nation is heading you’ll want to make a difference. If you want to make a difference, then you’ll need to learn how to craft the right message.
How Should You Go About Doing it?
How do you craft the right message? I mean, if you’ve never done it before, it sounds difficult and kind of weird.
Luckily, there’s a lot of resources out there for you.
Just to mention a few, there’s the Free Radical Network. They focus on the principle behind key issues and how to go about addressing it. Then there’s The Refinery, a weekly video hangout where they talk about crafting the right message. There’s also tips about how to handle specific political subjects, and inner party bickering. Lastly, I’ve also written a few articles on how to reach people, evangelize, and avoid unhelpful individuals.
But frankly, all you need is to realize what attracts people. What works best to communicate issues to people? Is positivity better than negativity? Should you explain what you stand for, instead of what you’re against? How do you clarify why net neutrality is a bad thing for the internet? How do you show someone the benefit of capitalism by telling them about the achievements of Amazon?
First: Think about how things affect you
If someone talks to you about politics in a less than pleasing way, how does that affect you? You probably wouldn’t like it. And you definitely wouldn’t respect them, or their beliefs much.
It works the same way as the golden rule (but just switched around a little): When you talk politics, treat your audience like you would like to be treated. It goes a long way.
Second: Be more of a friend, less of an opponent
Opponents are confrontational. Friends are calming, fun and caring. You want to be a friend to your readers. That’s how you’ll get across to them. That’s how you’ll influence them. Don’t be confrontational, don’t be argumentative, don’t report the news.
Reporting the news is old news. It’s already been done. What you need to be focusing on is creating relationships.
That is how you’ll make a difference, and make the most of your early blogging career.