Huffington Post Guide to Blogging – Book Review


huffington-postLast month, The Huffington Post Complete Guide to Blogging was released by Simon & Schuster.  Naturally, I felt the need to read and review it, especially after seeing Arianna Huffington interviewed on The Daily Show.  As the founder of HuffPo, Huffington is the “face” of the blog, doing much of the public relations for the site, despite the fact that there are 18 editors, 43 total employees, and hundreds of contributors.

Started in 2005, The Huffington Post led the revolution now known as citizen journalism.  The site quickly grew from a one-page website to a multi-page, in-depth internet newspaper that has a readership of almost two million unique visitors each month.

The Huffington Post Complete Guide to Blogging, however, is not so much an instruction manual for new bloggers as it is an inspirational tome that will get you excited to start blogging seriously.  Of course, the book does cover some of the basics like choosing your blogging platform, finding your voice, getting exposure and monitoring your traffic.  But most of this information can be found (much more succinctly) in other books or websites.

The real value in the book is contained in the anecdotes from a wide range of regular HuffPo writers and contributors such as Steven Weber, Jamie Lee Curtis, Nora Ephron, and Craig Newmark.  The advice is genuine and often very amusing.  However, because HuffPo is known to be an uber-liberal site, unless you have the same political leanings, the book may not be as enjoyable as it could be if it were purely written for instructional purposes.  Chapter 6, for example, is dedicated entirely to telling the story of the rise of HuffPo as an online rally for liberal politics.  And in Part III, almost forty pages are dedicated to reprinting some of the ‘best of’ blog posts from the site which include such telling titles as “Senator McCain Isn’t Funny, So Stop Encouraging Him” and “Bush:  Of Mojo and MacBeth.”

Nevertheless, the story of HuffPo as an internet business is inspiring, and it gives up-and-coming bloggers a look into the logistical issues that come from running a high-traffic blog.  The most helpful chapter for me was Chapter 5, entitled “Community:  Creating and Building It.”  The power of social networking has everything to do with giving your readers a reason to come back and interact with you and with each other.  Building a community is an art and this chapter goes over the details of making your site a nurturing environment for just this type of interaction.

Overall, much of the advice given to bloggers in The Huffington Post: A Complete Guide to Blogging is general and applies only when a blog actually gets to the point where it is getting a pretty decent traffic.  For startup blogger, however, it can motivate you to dream big.  There is definitely more to success in the blogosphere than just writing compelling content or having some political friends; and this book gives a real look at just what it takes.

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