BY BRANDON DOYLE
Josh Marshall’s keynote speech delivered at Ithaca College in 2008 provides many excellent points about blogging, as well as raises some questions. In his lecture, Marshall talks about his rise from blogging to the growth of Talking Points Memo to the importance of independent media.
Marshall first began blogging full time for four or five years, but made the switch to freelance journalism after a series of political events occurring in early 2000’s. One point made in his speech was the emphasis of active readership. In 2005, Marshall held a fundraiser asking for donations from his readers to start a new website to express his political ideology and thoughts. Marshall talked about the fundraiser exceeding well beyond his expectations. “We raised a little more than $100,000. This isn’t in contributions of $5,000; this is people sending in $10, $25, maybe $50–the occasional $100 and $250. But certainly 90-95 percent was $50 and under. That basically gave me the money to build the site, rent an office and hire two reporters for a year,” said Marshall.
This emphasizes what I believe to be one of the most crucial aspects of blogging and running an independent media outlet. Through an established readership, Marshall was able to raise enough funds to build and run his website, TPM, for an entire year. This included the addition of two reporters. In the digital age that is today it is much easier to attract readership and build a base of followers. I believe that if influential enough, anyone blogging about any subject can successfully establish a blog or website and be successful.
If there is one thing aspiring bloggers should take away from Marshall’s speech, it is that you should find a niche market and exploit it. Itch the niche, and never let it disappear.