[P]olitical science research indicates that there's a tremendous "gatekeeper" effect to the blogoshere, since by nature of "network" effects and hierarchies of prestige, blogging newcomers find tremendously high barriers to entry to a successful (and possibly materially lucrative) blogging career . . .These are related points. Three or four years ago, I read an article that said the blogosphere had ossified to the point that the early arrivals -- those who had locked in big readerships circa 2002-2003, when blogs were first becoming popular -- were destined to dominate forever. Thus, there no prospect of someone starting a blog in 2005 or 2006 and reaching the top.
Don't kid yourself that you're going to become the next Michelle Malkin after publishing a couple of week's worth of Blogspot essays; and don't expect to make a fortune anytime soon. I've been blogging for three years, and I still average less than 1000 hits a day. I get thousands of visitors on some days, but that's often because Michelle or Glenn Reynolds has thrown traffic my way. It takes a long time to get noticed, and that's often after you've networked and made connections. My sense is that someone who works hard and puts out consistently good content will develop a readership.
Well, "can't never could," as my father used to say. If you believe you can't reach the top, then you most certainly won't reach the top. But however high you aim, you risk demoralization if you become so impatient for big success that you aren't willing to take encouragement from small successes.
Five years ago, it seemed as if anyone could start a blog on Tuesday and land a book contract by Friday. That was never really the case, but it at least once seemed that blogging was an easy way to success. Now, everyone admits that success is difficult so, as the professor says, don't kid yourself. Still, persistence and a willingness to learn can still take you a long way. I've tried to focus on readership growth: Week-to-week, month-to-month, steadily increasing traffic.
Professor Douglas also quotes John Hawkins' article, "How to Become a Full Time Conservative Blogger/Columnist," which I highly recommend. Something that John Hawkins has pointed out elsewhere is the value of cross-posting. I now have cross-posting privileges at Right Wing News, AmSpecBlog, Taki's Magazine and the Hot Air Green Room. So that's five different blogs, counting this one (plus whatever other freelance writing, editing and consulting work I can scare up) and the value is that each of those blogs has a different readership. There are lots of online political forums where you can highlight your writing/blogging, and if you've got a few "blog buddies" who want to join you to create a group blog, that's another venue.
The value of "blog buddies" can't be overstated. If a newbie can find two or three small- to medium-sized bloggers with whom to share Rule 2 (reciprocal linkage) and communicate via e-mail, that's the basis of a small network that can then be expanded to reach a wider and wider readership. Also, take advantage of any possible opportunity to meet your fellow bloggers face-to-face offline. The fellowship of a real-world acquaintance helps ease the feeling of isolation that bloggers often have to deal with.