July 18, 2006 | Post Archive
At HowStuffWorks, we're into cars and cutting-edge technology, not to mention the latest in high-tech gadgetry. With that said, it was a pleasure to find that we had so much in common with the good people of Jalopnik. An interview seemed in order, so I caught up with Jalopnik's editor via e-mail to get an inside look at what it's like to run a popular, full-time blog.
HSW: What's Jalopnik all about?
Michael Spinelli: We obsess about the cult of cars. That includes everything from the industry, its personalities and the media that covers it, to new and upcoming models, prototypes, and technological gadgetry, to all of the subgroups of tinkerers, tuners, auctioneers and people who build pickups out of sedans. What did I leave out?
HSW: How long have you been blogging?
MS: Since about 6:30 this morning. Oh, you mean ever? I started about four years ago, and I've been blogging professionally for two and a half. I always laugh when I hear "blogging" and "professional" used in a sentence. That means I'm laughing right now.
HSW: Why did you start blogging?
MS: For a time, I worked at a dying dot-com company and had nothing much else to do. I'd always been a writer and editor, so blogging seemed like a natural fit. It wasn't. It took time. Now I'm ruined for any other job.
HSW: What's the most challenging thing about keeping a blog?
MS: Constantly coming up with interesting things to write. That and handling lots and lots of angry e-mail messages.
HSW: How much time do you spend working on Jalopnik every day?
MS: Anywhere from four to 1,870 hours. And that's not hyperbole. Ok, just a little.
HSW: How often do you post?
MS: At least 12 times a day. Some days more. I have help now, so I can sleep an extra five minutes.
HSW: How do you choose what to write about?
MS: I have about 100 RSS feeds that send a constant stream of information down the virtual pike. From there I try to use my editorial judgment. Barring that, I throw gum at the monitor and write about the thing it sticks closest to. Unfortunately, lots of blog posts wind up being about "Start."
HSW: How does your blog affect the rest of your life?
MS: Life? No, really, it's all about setting boundaries. But I've yet to set any of those.
HSW: What do you think makes a good blog?
MS: A well-considered and clearly defined mission mixed with a kind of lightly pathological compulsivity. Also, lots of movement and activity (posts, comments, et cetera) distracts readers from all the typos. Good, or at least not tedious, writing helps. Having an eye for a news angle helps also.
HSW: Which blogs do you regularly read?
MS: Too many to count. For fun, I browse We Make Money Not Art and Boing Boing. I also like to read the Huffington Post and Michelle Malkin’s blog back-to-back and then beat myself in the head with a frying pan.
HSW: Do you have any other writing projects besides Jalopnik?
MS: I have some freelance writing jobs. I'm also working on a book about pickup-cars. Ok, I lied about the last one. I still might do that, though.
HSW: What advice do you have for other bloggers?
MS: Write constantly. Drink coffee. Don't stop doing either of those things for even a second.