My favorite blogs for freelance writers have evolved since I pulled together my first list of best blogs for writers two years ago, a sign of how much the media business has changed in the interim.
My current favorites run the gamut from straight news to very personal, from blogs that provide tips for improving your writing to sites that tell writers how to change their freelance business to keep up with the times.
I compiled a new list because today all the writers and bloggers in the 2010 WordCount Blogathon are writing on the same subject – our favorite blogs.
So here’s my top 10 blogs for writers, in alphabetical order:
BusinessJournalism.org – The recently reorganized website of the Donald W. Reynolds National Center for Business Journalism at Arizona State University includes several blogs worth tuning in. One is freelance business writer Melissa Preddy’s Story Ideas blog, where she shares suggestions for business stories five days a week, including tips for localizing national news and trends. Somebody who wants to help me come up with pitches? That’s definitely worth putting on a blog reader.
Roger Ebert’s Journal – Talk about a second act. For a long time, Roger Ebert was like air: around but not anyone you thought about much. He’d become famous for Siskel & Ebert, left TV after having major health issues and was still writing movie reviews for the Chicago Sun Times but had receded into the background of journalistic fame and fortune. All that changed after Ebert started blogging, and even more when he took to Twitter. Then came Chris Jones’ Ebert profile in Esquire – along with candid photos of Ebert minus his lower jaw, which he lost to cancer. The piece went viral thanks in no small part to people (like me) who read it, loved it, and shared it with their online social circles. The story – and Ebert’s response to it, brought even more people to Ebert’s blog. Today Ebert uses Twitter to discuss everything from politics to love, sports to immigration, along with reviews for new movies and appreciations of old ones. Ebert proves that blogging and online brand building isn’t just a young man’s game.
Penelope Trunk’s Brazen Careerist – If you’ve read WordCount for any length of time, you know I have a love-hate relationship with P.T.’s blogging style. It’s over the top, confessional, self-focused but also brilliant conceived, smart and continually surprising and evolving. I interviewed Trunk recently for SecondAct.com – I’ll link to the post when it’s up – and discovered that behind the sometimes off-putting exterior is an extremely astute businesswoman who knows exactly what she’s doing when it comes to her blog. As Trunk’s said herself, you won’t see an ad on her blog yet it’s made her bundles of money, because she’s used it to create a business, launch a speaking career, write books, etc. Want to make money as a blogger? Follow Trunk.
ProBlogger – Independent writers need to have their own blog, whether they’re veteran freelancers or recently removed from a staff job; if you don’t believe me, Penelope Trunk’s been preaching the same thing for years and see above for where it’s taken her. ProBlogger isn’t written specifically for journalists, but the lessons Darren Rowse shares apply to anyone.
Reflections of a Newsosaur – Alan Mutter brings his unique experience as an ex-newspaper guy turned venture capitalist to this erudite blog that examines the evolution of the news business from ink and paper to bits and bytes. Never one to pull punches, Mutter explains in plain English what newspapers continue to do wrong while offering intelligent advice for what media companies old and new should be doing today and in the future.
Regret the Error – Craig Silverman’s compilation of newspaper and magazine corrections operates under the assumption that someone needs to hold news media accountable and by pulling corrections together it’s serving a larger purpose . It’s also a great example of how a lone writer can carve out a niche for themselves, and make a difference.
Romenesko – This simple listing from Poynter Institute is hands down my favorite daily news digest on what’s happening in newspapers, magazines and the digital media industry. Mediaite and Mediabistro might do a better job of keeping track of who’s in, who’s out and who’s made the biggest buzz that week, but Romenesko is more timely and comprehensive.
There Are No Rules – Writer’s Digest Publisher Jane Friedman uses her blog to talk about changes happening in all forms of media, including magazines and book publishing, and what writers need to do to keep up. She also shares about upcoming Writer’s Digest classes and events, making it a good way to keep tabs on the magazine if you don’t get to the website very often. On Fridays, Friedman lists the best links, quotes and inspirations for writers she found on Twitter that week.
Basket of Kisses – I put this one out of alphabetical order at the end because I mainly read blogs for work and this one isn’t work related. It is, however, a good one for writers who aspire to creating a blog following to know about. One downside of working by yourself is not having anybody to talk to the morning after your favorite TV show is on. Maybe in the age of Tivo and DVRs this isn’t the cultural phenomena it once was. Still, I can’t not watch Mad Men in real time and sharing comments on Twitter after the fact just doesn’t cut it. So Monday mornings after a new episode I log onto the Lipp sisters’ Basket of Kisses fan blog to share and compare with other show devotees. Bloggers should take note: The best blogs are about community and Basket of Kisses is a great example of that. The proprietors aren’t trained journalists, but they’ve done an outstanding job of using reader comments, live blogging, photos, video and links to similar sites to create the kind of interactive experience that pulls readers in and keeps them there, an experience many newspaper entertainment section editors only wished they had.