So you want to write about liberty?

Dear Young American,

So you want to write about liberty? Use the power of the pen to expose the oft-misused power of the sword? Change hearts and sober up minds to get this country back on the right track again? But you aren’t sure the best way to get started? Well pay attention, because I’ve got the info you need right here.

How I blog

First off: why should you listen to me? Because I spent like ten minutes in Microsoft Paint making that hilarious graphic you just laughed at (while gulping down a Monster Energy drink — true story), so I’m obviously serious about this!

Also, I get paid — in real Federal Reserves Notes too, not just bitcoins and an encouraging word — to write a twice-weekly column at an independent California public policy website; I’ve been published in The Christian Science Monitor, The Daily Caller, and even Rand Paul 2010’s website (back in the early days before he’d pulled together enough money and credibility not to let a kid like me write for him anymore :-P);  and I founded, edit, and write for The Humble Libertarian, one of the most visited libertarian websites on the Internet, which has been featured by The Daily Paul, The Cato Institute, The Huffington Post, Michelle Malkin, Instapundit, and Liberty Pulse among others, as well as mentioned on Mark Levin’s radio program and Fox & Friends (cool, huh?). You may have even shared an article or two yourself on Facebook (and if so, you rule and I love you forever).

Writing in favor of liberty is one of the most rewarding things I have ever done in my life and I hope my own journey is just beginning. Making an impact on the hearts and minds of readers is something so real, so powerful, and so gratifying! Before the revolution that created our republic, there was a revolution of ideas — and thinkers spread those ideas by means of political pamphlets, newspapers, and philosophical treatises. Before any kind of action could be taken to change their circumstances, the American people had to undergo a change in their hearts and minds, a change affected by ideas communicated in written and spoken words. The work of peacefully restoring our ailing republic must likewise be affected by the power of ideas and their effective expression in words.

So where to begin? I can honestly recommend no better place than the Young Americans for Liberty blog. In many ways it’s where I got my first big break. You could go and start your own blog like I did, or you can write for websites and blogs that already exist. The thing is you should only ever go the first route if you are 110% sure that you can consistently produce original content on a daily basis for years, and spend much of that time toiling in relative obscurity before you start to see all that hard work pay off.

I’m not saying it’s not worth it to start your own website. It certainly has been to me, but it is only worth it if you are planning to push hard to be the very best at what you do. Anything in between an absolutely stellar blog and no blog at all is a very inefficient use of your time and resources. If you can honestly commit to making it a full-time endeavor, then start your own blog and start building up your audience. But if you only want to spend a couple or a few hours a week writing, then find an established website with an already-existing audience that accepts submissions, and fire off those one or two articles a week.

Two good websites for this are The Daily Caller‘s opinion section, and the Young Americans for Liberty blog. What makes the YAL blog the better option is that in addition to its super high quality readership (smart, web-savvy college kids who love Ron Paul), they pay you to blog for them. If your blog post gets a certain number of views within a certain period of time– you’ll need to talk to YAL communications director Bonnie Kristian for the specifics– YAL will cut you a check for the traffic. (Now would be a good time to mention that if you like this article you should totally share it on Facebook and tweet it! Pretty please?)

Coming up with ideas: A lot of bloggers get stuck with writer’s block and aren’t sure how to begin. If you’ve got the itch to write, you might not have that problem (I actually have the opposite problem, I sometimes get nothing done because I have so many ideas I have no clue where to begin… you should see the list of ideas I have that just keeps getting bigger and bigger to my ever-growing dismay), but if you do, here are a few ideas.

1. What really “grinds your gears?” What makes you angry? What could you rant about for an hour straight? Right at this very moment, I bristle at any mention of Michele Bachmann. I could go on and on about how she does not represent Tea Party values and how her voting record and her record as a tax collector for the IRS are at odds with the Tea Party persona she claims to exemplify. If you’ve got a rant in you, please spare the people who’ve heard it from you a million times and vent it here. We want to hear it, and if you’ve got a fresh angle or good argument, we want to spread to other readers.

2. What creates value for others? What have you learned that might help others if they knew it too? Remember your audience at Young Americans for Liberty is young people, mostly students. Last October, I wrote a post for the YAL blog to share tips on time management and productivty for burnt out college students. That’s something that creates value for readers and improves their lives in some way. Right now, you’re reading an article with advice on getting your start in writing about liberty. Again, that’s something that creates value. If the words “create value” seem too vague, here’s a simple way to think of it: any “how to” article creates value (if it’s a good article, of course).

3. Cheat sheet: Memeorandum. It’s that simple. I go to this website more than any other for news and commentary. Not only does it show the hottest news headlines (usually even before The Drudge Report gets them up), it shows who’s talking about them and who’s getting the most attention in the news web and blogosphere for their commentary. Want an idea to write about? Visit Memeorandum (pronounced *MEEM* OH RANDOM) and you’ll have a treasure trove of current news to report and then give your commentary.

Summary — You want to get published. I’ve been published a lot so you should listen to me. I say: take inventory and decide if political writing is more of a full time or part time gig for you. If the latter is the case, start blogging here at Young Americans for Liberty. Actually even if the former is the case, maybe do a trial run here to see if you’ve got the energy to sustain that level of output, and if so, you’ll already have a lot of like-minded people who like your writing when you launch your own website a couple weeks or a month later.

When you do write: be passionate, create value, and stay relevant. And last, but certainly not least: please share this article. If you don’t email it to ten people you know and post it on your Facebook Wall, you’ll be single and unhappy forever!! But if you do… something amazing will happen at midnight tonight (and all that jazz).*

*I just wrote this to intimidate you into doing what I want. It works on people who forward those chain emails. Actual results may vary. But seriously… you don’t have to write articles like they’re college essays. In fact please don’t. Be at least a little funny and entertaining. That’s a huge part of the value you create for readers. That’s my last tip. Hope this helped. And SHARE THIS ARTICLE!

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