Blogging Tips – Breaking Down The Big Picture Blog

The Wall Street Journal calls it “The Economics Blog Insiders Read to Stay Current.” Stock Trader’s Almanac calls its author “One of the brightest minds and irreverent voices on Wall Street today.” Barry Ritholtz has been doing a lot right since he launched The Big Picture blog in 2003. 20,000+ blog posts, 343,000 comments and 89 million page views later, what is Barry doing right? I take a look at the specifics of how Barry has attracted almost 60,000 subscribers and pass on some important blogging tips that anyone can use in their own blog.

Blogging Tip 1 – Publish Regularly

Barry typically publishes 4-6 times a day on weekdays, 2-3 times a day on weekends. He begins the day with a longer, thoughtful piece about whatever is on his mind, followed by an article mid-morning about something he’s read in the media, followed by a chart mid-day, an infographic or link to a web site he finds interesting in the afternoon, and then something humorous towards the end of the day. Barry also has a number of regular features: a summary of the week’s events on Friday of each week, Daily Reads, a gift ideas post in December of every year.

Blogging Tip 2 – Speak Human

Barry writes like he’s speaking to a friend – and not a friend who’s an economist, works on Wall Street or spends 8 hours a day buying and selling obscure derivatives. As he says, he writes to make economics “understandable to my right brain art teacher wife and my 74 year old retired real estate agent mom.” He’s not afraid to use the occasional expletive, and if you don’t like it, he’ll tell you to go away. Barry very much values his privacy, but if you follow his blog over time, he reveals much about his personality. He doesn’t suffer fools (“Asshats”, in his colorful phrase), he loves music (70’s rock and roll, jazz, female vocals) and cuban cigars and he’s a dog guy.

Blogging Tip 3 – Take A Stand

If you listen to Fox News or to mainstream Republican talking points, you’d think that the housing bubble and subsequent collapse was due to the Community Re-investment Act (CRA) and government policies encouraging home ownership, but Barry will have none of that. He takes an unequivocal stand, citing facts, marshaling his arguments, and making a very convincing case that this is all nonsense. The housing bubble/collapse was caused by a number of factors (mostly greed and a failure to heed basic mortgage lending laws and guidelines), but CRA was not one of them.

Blogging Tip 4 – Interact With Your Readers

Barry frequently asks his readers for advice or for their opinions, and they respond. Mostly, he just lets the comments fly, but occasionally he jumps in to comment on a comment. He has no problem with someone disagreeing with him, as long as they’re not “demonstrating their own ignorance.”

Blogging Tip 5 – Produce Quality Content (And Lots of It)

Almost every day Barry produces something that is original, interesting and of high quality. Think about doing this when you’re posting 4-6 times per day, day in and day out, while continuing to run the firm you founded. This is hard work. He’s earned those accolades from the Wall Street Journal and Stock Trader’s Almanac.

None of these blogging tips are new, but all of them are important, and the manner in which Barry implements them is unique. It’s that unique combination of voice, personality, deep commitment to the facts and hard work that keep me coming back to The Big Picture Blog every day.