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Whatever you do, don't mention politics if you're marketing yourself

I’ve been reading Matt Gemmell’s blog recently, which is definitely worth subscribing to if you’re interested in writing (and I am interested in writing). I particularly enjoyed these recent articles on Scottish independence and fan fiction.

The Scotland piece starts with a warning: he’s going to talk about politics. This is something he never does.

Matt’s only echoing the advice of many blogs about marketing yourself, getting readers etc. You can talk about web design, copywriting, javascript, photography, coffee and your exciting work habits, but mention politics and your readers will ruthlessly excise your feed from their lives. Just like that.

Now, I don’t really market myself online, nor chase readers. My blog is pretty much a log of what’s on my mind at any given point in time, so I guess it doesn’t matter if I start banging on about how rubbish the minimum wage is. But I do understand how readers come to expect a certain service from the writers they follow.

But I want to read more about what people think, and not just experts. Matt’s Scotland piece was interesting because it showed how politics relates to action for a normal person, in this case at a crucial time. It also helped to explain why the No vote won.

We often bemoan the ‘average’ person’s understanding of politics, but if we’re not willing to discuss what we think about the world around us, we can’t really expect an improvement.

Nor can we criticise an out of touch political class if we’re so reluctant to talk about politics ourselves. You don’t have to be Labour or Conservative – following a party line really is a turn off – you just need to express what you really think about something. After all, that’s pretty much what the internet’s for.