Things You Need to Succeed in Local Blogging
I’m choosing my words carefully here. I don’t think you need to love your hometown, but I do think you have to care about it … a lot. Passion can be expressed in different ways, including being critical of the things you see happening in your hometown. You don’t have to love all the decisions your city council makes, for example, but you’ll be a better local blogger if you’re passionate about those decisions and what they mean to you and your neighbors. You should have a passion for where you live, and the people that live there.
This can be expressed in different ways:
- Being an interesting blogger. We connect with people who are interesting, who have personality. We’re drawn to people with opinions, even if those opinions aren’t the same as ours.
- Having interesting content. If you’re not Joe Personality or Jane Opinion, interesting local content can still attract readers and make a great local blog. How do we define “interesting local content?” That sounds like a post for another day but, in short, I’d include things like local business reviews, interviews with local politicians or newsmakers, local photo tours/galleries, etc.
3. Good Writer
You don’t have to be Hemingway, but I’ve always believed that better writers attract larger crowds. I can easily name several exceptions to this rule in the marketing blogosphere, and I’m sure you could name exceptions, too. But if you’re one of several local bloggers in your area, I believe … all other things being equal … that the better writers will be the most successful.
You need to connect with people to grow your blog. This is true whether you’re a local blogger or not. Blogging is a conversation, and if you’re not the type to want to connect with others, you’ll probably find it much harder to succeed. Outgoing people are typically more interested in what others believe, and that curiosity will be very helpful as you grow your hyperlocal blog.
Not every hyperlocal blog is going to be about local news. You don’t have to attend city council meetings to run a good local blog. But no matter what your local focus is, I think it’s important to want to know about your community and be able to sort out what matters to other local people/readers. Even if you’re blogging about the best shopping deals in your city, or doing posts on local stay-at-home dads, or families that home school … there’s still an element of being a newshound in all of that.
The old saying tells us that everyone can be anonymous on the Internet, and that anonymity often allows bloggers/commenters/web users the freedom to stretch the truth. I don’t think you have that luxury with a local blog. Your readers will be your neighbors. They’ll often be as familiar with what you’re writing about as you are. You don’t have the luxury of pretending to be something you’re not, or making up content that tells a good local story … but isn’t quite true.
Hyperlocalblogging is still in its infancy. Blogging itself took years to go mainstream, and in most cases it’ll take local blogs a while to gain widespread respect and trust. You’ll need to promote your hyperlocal blog, and you’ll need to be patient as it grows.