Tyler Cowen on the economics of blogging
Via Felix Salmon, George Mason economist, author, and blogger Tyler Cowen weighs in on economics blogs: On a given day, my estimate would be 400,000 to 500,000 are reading fairly serious economics blogs. Salmon doubts this number, but I bet if you count the Freakonomics blog at the New York Times, Cowen's estimate is right ...
On a given day, my estimate would be 400,000 to 500,000 are reading fairly serious economics blogs.
Salmon doubts this number, but I bet if you count the Freakonomics blog at the New York Times, Cowen's estimate is right on. Read more (or download the video podcast of Cowen's talk) for some interesting analysis by both Cowen and Salmon on the economics of blogging. Cowen's take seems about right here:
This is a funny market. The price of reading a blog is as close to a zero price as you're going to get in this world. The price of writing a blog is also zero. Economists are not always comfortable with models where all prices are zero…
When we ask why people write blogs, the dominant motive is blog as loss leader. You're hoping to sell some other attached commodity for a real price. Dani Rodrik started blogging a few months ago; he has a new book out. Tim Harford just started blogging, it just so happens that in January he has a book out. Greg Mankiw has a textbook he wants to sell more of. It's not a coincidence that the level of Greg's blog is aimed at a Principles course.
I don't think blogs are actually so different from op-ed columns in this respect. Very few people can make a living as an op-ed writer. Most opinion pieces in newspapers are magazines are probably not profitable enterprises when looked at on in terms of the hours worked for fee paid. Most of the people who writes such pieces have other jobs, though, and have ideas or books they want to sell. The major difference between keeping a blog and writing for a publication is that there is no gatekeeper. For people with talent and enterprise, but not necessarily stellar credentials or connections, it's a huge opportunity.
Blake Hounshell is a former managing editor of Foreign Policy.
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