I want to thank Dan and the rest of the Concurring Opinions bloggers for having me. I figured I would start by posting about something close to home for me.
Doug Berman, at Sentencing Law & Policy, recently called for more people in the criminal justice world to take up blogging. Specifically, he explained that issue-focused, niche blogs serve the valuable function of expanding the debate about important topics. I have been a blogger for over two years in a very tiny niche: sex crimes. There are definitely positives and negatives to being a single-topic blogger.
For me, the negatives have not been too pronounced, but they do come up from time to time. A niche blog audience tends to be narrower and there are less regular readers. Instead, narrow-focus blogs are consulted more often when a hot topic intersects with the blog’s subject matter. Rick Hasen’s Election Law Blog is a good example of that trend as his traffic patterns substantially change during election season. That means that the niche blogger has to a lot more work during the off-peak times to draw attention to the blog. I am not one who revels in promoting my blog so that has been the toughest thing for me. The other significant negative is there are times when I see a post around the web unrelated to sex crimes to which I really want to respond, but I cannot justify it on my blog.
The positives have, so far, outweighed the negatives for me. Most importantly, the people who read my blog, regularly or irregularly, tend have much higher interest levels about the topics on which I blog. I would guess, for that reason, I get a much higher volume of email from blog readers than I would on a general topic blog. That has allowed me to get to know a lot of people with different perspectives about sex crime laws. Since that has been the primary focus of my scholarship, the reader feedback has served me well in enhancing my scholarly work. I also think there is tremendous value in the disciplinary nature of niche blogging. My blog forces me to read and think about the issues which interest me on a daily basis. While I think there are times when every blogger wonders if blogging is trading off with more productive activity, I think the net effect for me has been to increase my overall work rate.
So, I would extend Berman’s call for more single-issue bloggers beyond the criminal justice area. While I enjoy a lot of group and general interest blogs, there is an important place in the legal blogosphere for niche blogs.
Cross-posted at Sex Crimes.