Why Don’t More Students Blog When It Is A Cheap Signal?

I have been blogging for years. This blog is the latest incarnation in a string of blogs that have helped me find a voice, figure out what sort of tribe I belong to in economics (Hint: not at all Neo-Keynesian) and provide a cheap signal to people who Google me.

When we are living in the Zero Moment of Truth where the first few Google results around your name are incredibly important, you have to own that space. It is simply sub-optimal behaviour to not have some online presence linked to your real name. Facebook and Instagram do not count here.

Some of my posts are a bit ranty, some of my posts are wonkish but some of my posts are pretty fast pointers to important stuff like RBNZ releases. Over the weekend I was reading about the change in the media industry in New Zealand because of the internet.

Tom Scott, publisher of the National Business Review, is quoted as saying that he and Barry Colman reckoned that no more than a few thousand people are prepared to pay for local business news. That’s reflected in the ~10,000 print, online and organisation IP subscriptions to NBR products.

But StopPress, the NZ Marketing Magazine website, has quickly become one of my favourite NZ business websites. And here lies the rub for students – with a lot of free time, why are you not running a blog in your field of choice? If an editor somewhere likes your post you’ll get some traffic from it and who knows where that could lead. Maximising the potential upside from a random visitor is smart.

I cannot get my head around the dearth of fellow econ student bloggers. The internet is a free repository of information and the annual costs are trivial. I spend no more than $100 on the domain name registration and hosting costs. The time spent blogging is no more than 3-4 hours a week.

Perhaps because I consume a lot of economics and finance information and am actually interested in economics, I find my blogging a hell of a lot more valuable and enjoyable than my university coursework.

In fact, the economic blogosphere pointed me in the direction of the Journal of Economic Perspectives and that has added more value than almost any paper I have taken at university. When Google Reader shutdown and people said RSS feeds were dead, I laughed.

But most of all, the return on investment from this sporadically updated blog on economics and other things that interest me is high. I have interesting Twitter and email correspondence with people who both criticise or agree with what I’m writing about.

The New Zealand economics blogosphere is small, but there is always room for more voices. One thing that makes me very concerned is the antipathy towards “economics outside the coursework” I’ve witnessed from some fellow students. It’s as if the internet adds no value and that only Approved Official University Coursework can be used in discussion of policy or the real world. That’s ridiculous!

 Do you think more economics students should blog? Are you a student who blogs about economics and I haven’t seen your blog yet? Comment here or tweet me @brennansmacro and I’ll add you to my blogroll.