Our inaugural question comes via e-mail from longtime reader and League of Ordinary Gentlemen blogger Freddie de Boer:
I’ve been in this blogging game for a little bit. I’ve had a little bit of success, at least in terms of getting people to read me and to link to me, mostly because of generous bloggy friends linking to me. I’m very happy and grateful to all of them.
However, a link from one particular blogger has eluded me— Matt Yglesias. Yglesias is my favorite blogger, and his blog is the first one I ever read. Now, I’ve tried posting obvious Yglesias bait, and linking to his pieces myself, and even been linked to defending him from the attacks of a blogger who he has linked to. (Got that?) No dice. So what, pray tell, is a young blogger to do?
How might a range of blog level celebrities answer?
The important thing to note is that Matt Yglesias is a quintessential member of the creative class. Were I trying to get his attention, I’d probably begin by blogging about gays and lesbians, ideally from a coffee shop where musicians perform and local artists hang paintings on the wall. The key is to make your blog, The League or Ordinary Gentlemen, a destination for creative people, rather than wasting your time building the site’s content and infrastructure. In my forthcoming book, Who’s Your Blogger, I’ll be developing an index to help with that task.
Given the similarities in our career trajectories, I’ve paid pretty close attention to Matt’s blog over the years. It’s tough to predict what insightful, original points he’ll make each day, so better to target the more formulaic filler posts. You’d think the fact that he doesn’t do food blogging would give him time to read white papers from cover to cover, as I do. (How tough can it be to write about basketball?) However, my sense is that often he just relies on the executive summaries. Thus I recommend that you figure out what it is that you want Matt to link, produce a progressive-friendly white paper on that topic, and make sure the relevant excerpt is in the executive summary. If the writing in question can somehow suggest that conservatives harbor retrograde views on race and/or nationality all the better.
Perhaps the problem is the frequency with which you post on your blog. Might I recommend that you craft elegant mini-essays whose thoughtfulness and scrupulous balance lend themselves to being the definitive take on a subject? In this fashion, you’ll concentrate all your salient points in one link-worthy place, rather than spreading them out over many posts, none of them worth linking. That isn’t to say that there aren’t certain advantages to writing a lot of posts. On reflection, however, I’ve found that consistently having the most polished, long-considered take on a given topic pays dividends.
Robert Stacy McCain
I’d corner him at the kind of Inside the Beltway social gathering I mock others for attending, exploit his general sense of politeness to snap his photo and pepper him with personal questions I have no business asking, spin whatever information I glean into a salacious attack on his character, bait him into an outraged response that links my post, and afterward claim I was just joking about the whole thing to deflect any residual criticism.
Do you have a question for the TAS advice column? Any topic is fair game! Write conor dot friedersdorf at gmail dot com.