TrawlerMeets: Arseblog

Posted on March 3, 2012 by

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Many of you will know Andrew Mangan primarily by the alias of his award winning football blog, Arseblog. This is by no means a bad reflection on Mangan: the ardent Arsenal blogger has created not just an acclaimed blog, but also a vivacious online community surrounding his Arseblog brand over the last 10 years. Mangan produces a weekly podcast and his admirable social media skills, which have won him over 70,000 followers on Twitter, have ensured social interaction both on Arseblog and away from the site itself. Mangan collaborated with many other celebrated writers for the publication of Arseblog’s first book So Paddy Got Up, an anthology of articles about Arsenal which was released late last year. We at The Trawler were very pleased when Arseblog agreed to answer some questions for us on some of the requirements of contemporary, club specific blogging.

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TT: You are a blogger who has thrived in the digital age. What’s next? Are there any new projects in the pipeline or any current projects that you wish to expand on?

AM: To be honest, I’m not really sure. I’m not someone who sits down and makes strategic plans. I tend to implement ideas off the cuff, sometimes they work (mostly, thankfully) and sometimes they don’t, so I’ll just have to wait and see where inspiration strikes.

But obviously what started as a blog is now also Facebook page, a large Twitter following, a podcast, and more, so it’s about seeing where the next important space is going to be and making sure we build a presence there.

What makes you different from other bloggers? Is it the sheer honesty that you’ve described in the past as the ‘colourful’ aspect of your writing? Or, is your success down to how you’ve managed to promote and develop your blog to suit your reader’s requirements?

I don’t know what makes me different. All I have ever done is write regularly, and often, and allow as much of my own personality into my writing as possible. I’m glad it seems to connect with people but I’ve never actively tried to be anything other than myself. Maybe that’s the key.

You reside in Dublin. Do you get to attend many Arsenal games? In relation to this, would you say it’s easier to do a match report after watching a game on a monitor or in real life, and why?

I get to a few games all right but not as many as I would like. For match reporting purposes the TV coverage is fine but obviously you get a much rounder view of the game if you’re actually at the game. You can see players off the ball, if they’re struggling, how they’re communicating etc.

You seem to stick with proven methods such as publishing articles every morning and consciously writing in the same style. Does this ever become monotonous?

No, it’s just part of my morning routine now. Wake up -> bathroom -> make coffee -> write Arseblog. And as I said earlier, people now expect it. If I’m even a few minutes later than normal they’ll start to complain.

Besides, we launched a news site last June which provides a chance to write in a different, although still quite Arseblog flavoured, style.

I’m an Arsenal fan and I’m enjoying the way Tottenham are playing football at the moment (yes, you read that correctly). Nevertheless, many of your readers genuinely despise Tottenham, are there any subjects or views that you’re almost not permitted to write about even though you might wish to do so?

As it’s my site, I can write about whatever I like, nobody can ‘not permit’ me, but I try and avoid religion, politics and the personal lives of players etc. The first two are divisive for all kinds of reasons, as well as being pretty irrelevant to Arsenal, and the latter is simply because I could not give a shit what any of them do in their private lives.

I find the prurient, invasive celebrity/WAG culture just so tedious and banal I refuse to have anything to do with it.

You published a book of essays about Arsenal called ‘So paddy got up’. To do this you collaborated with several other bloggers, journalists and writers. Would you ever consider writing your own book or writing for another publication? How does the book process differ from writing a daily blog?

I had considered writing my own book for Arseblog but thought the concept I came up for So Paddy Got Up was something that hadn’t been done before. It’s a collection of 25 pieces (plus an introduction chapter by me) and there isn’t another book about Arsenal like it.

The diary thing has been done by Nick Hornby in Fever Pitch and it’s such a seminal book you couldn’t even think about doing anything similar. The book process was obviously chalk and cheese from the blog, it’s much more technical and involved, but no less enjoyable.

Do you read many other football blogs or buy a certain newspaper on a regular basis? How important is wider reading when it comes to football writing?

Yes, plenty of other Arseblog blogs, and lots of football websites. Wider reading is crucial, obviously I have my own opinions, but the more informed anyone is the better they’ll be when it comes to expressing that opinion.

How do you go about getting interviews with people such as Lee Dixon? And who’s the most audacious interview you’ve ever tried to get?

Funnily enough, he emailed me, but generally when there’s an ex-player etc they have something to promote, like a book. I did try to get Stan Kroenke, which obviously didn’t come off, but I did have the Chairman, Peter Hill-Wood on the podcast in the past.

And finally: what advice would you give to a blogger starting out who wants to be successful, and how can I get 70,000 followers on twitter?

Be honest in how you write, it’s easy to spot when something is contrived. Try find a schedule that suits you, I found Arseblog really grew when I chanced upon a post first thing in the morning (like a daily newspaper), and if you have genuine enthusiasm and interest in your subject matter you’ll find an audience. Most of all though, I would urge them to have patience. It takes time to build a proper audience, one built on your content rather than you pestering people on Twitter to re-Tweet your articles etc.

It’s something people seem to have less and less of these days but I’d say it’s absolutely crucial if you want to build a successful blog. It’s very rare that anyone, in any sphere, becomes an overnight success, least of all blogging. So hard work and dedication are what’s necessary. I find getting quite drunk and going on late night Twitter rampages [also] proves popular.

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Arseblog’s excellent anthology of articles So Paddy Got Up can be found here. Read Andrew’s conjectures on Arsenal daily, on Arseblog.

Also, be sure to catch up with the rest of our In Conversation With… series.

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Posted in: Football, Interviews