Hyper-Local Blogging

12 Feb

We talked to Tom Focoloro, a professional hyper-local blogger from St. Louis who focuses on the news of Capitol Hill, Seattle and the Seattle bicycling community in two hyper-local blogs. This meeting was one of the most memorable for me mostly because of his willingness to talk about how making a living off of hyper-local blogging has effected his personal life. The biggest lessons it taught me were:
1. The barriers to entry for hyper-local journalism are almost zero
2. Maintaining a good blog is insanely time-consuming
3. You must either learn to enjoy finding advertisers or learn to enjoy poverty.

Tom is very passionate about his job – passionate enough to take a massive cut in pay to do what he loves. While his talk convinced me not to try making a living in hyper-local blogging, it showed me that it is at least possible. It also showed me that when creating a media property, one must closely examine their ideal audience to determine if it’s profitable. I highly doubt that KansasCityBikeBlog.com would do well in my home town. Less obvious was the story he told about a friend who created a high-quality crime blog that failed even though it got thousands of page-views. The problem was that no advertisers wanted their ads next to depressing local crime stories. It showed the importance of thinking through all aspects of your business before you invest time and money into the idea.

The visit also reinforced the importance of gaining a reputation through consistency and fostering relationships with sources. Hearing Tom talk about how much faster and easier it is to write about biking and local events now that he is a well-connected expert in the subject reminded me of hearing the founders of Geek Wire talk about the importance of their previous reporting careers with the P-I for the current growth of their start-up. I wish Tom the best of luck.

-Joseph Simmons


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