Multiple author blogs … Multi-topic blogs … Blog/Web site convergence … these are a few of the emerging blog trends that Darren Rowse recently identified on ProBlogger.net. I agree with him on all counts.
I’d also like to suggest a sixth trend be added to the discussion: Hyperlocal blogging, which I wrote about briefly last month: Local Blogging: Don’t Forget the Local Stuff.
Hyperlocal blogs are also known as city or neighborhood blogs. Typically, these are blogs written by one or more authors who restrict their writing and discussion to a single area, most often the place they call home. Although stats are hard to come by, I believe hyperlocal blogs are growing at a rapid rate in the U.S. — and perhaps all over the world.
Why are Hyperlocal Blogs an Emerging Trend?
For years, blogging has been dominated by early adopters who saw the potential and quickly tried it out. This is how most tools and technologies develop. Tools like Twitter and StumbleUpon are still owned by early adopters; they haven’t reached the general public yet.
But blogs are hitting the mainstream. Businesses of all sizes are aware of the marketing and business potentials of a good company blog. Newspapers and TV stations are starting blogs to stem the tide of dwindling readers and viewers. As Joe Q. Public uses the Internet, he’s much more likely today to come across a blog than he was a few years ago. A recent eMarketer article, Who Blogs Now?, addressed this trend:
Blogging has gone mainstream. What was once a quirky hobby based on sharing intimate details with the world has morphed into something used by major corporations and media outlets.
“It seems like every company has a blog section of its own, and is also interested in what the blogosphere is saying about it,” said Paul Verna, senior analyst at eMarketer.
As blogging trickles down from early adopters through marketing and mass media and now to the general public, it’s inevitable that some “regular people” will be interested enough to jump in the blogging waters and see what it’s like. And what is a 42-year-old mother of three likely to write about? What is a 24-year-old nightshift worker going to write about? It’ll probably be about their lives, their families, their neighbors, and their neighborhoods, towns, or cities.
Successful Hyperlocal Blogs Already Exist
Hyperlocal blogging actually has its own group of early adopters. Gothamist is a blog that’s been covering New York since 2003. There are more than a dozen other city blogs in the Gothamist network, including LAist, Londonist, and even Shanghaiist. Want more? Metroblogging has an even larger network of more than 50 city blogs.
There are also hyperlocal blogs that are thriving outside of these large, established networks. And many of these are aiming at a much smaller slice of the geographic pie. Justin Carder writes about Capitol Hill, a neighborhood in Seattle that can’t be more than about 2 miles in each direction. Not far away, Tracy Record and Patrick Sand have the West Seattle blog, which is more of an authority than Wikipedia (see Google search for [west seattle]).
Finding Hyperlocal Blogs
The Metroblogging and Gothamist networks are good places to start looking for local blogs, and there’s always a Google or Google Blog search for “[cityname] blog” that might point you toward local blogs in your area. Here in the U.S., two popular sites are part of the hyperlocal blogging trend:
- Outside.in aggregates local blog content from a variety of sources and, when it works well, creates pages of city and neighborhood content. (See the Seattle page for a strong example.)
- Placeblogger takes a more traditional approach, acting primarily as a directory for local blogs in the U.S. At the SBMU conference in April, I showed this impressive list of Houston blogs as an example.
Local newspapers are also a good place to find local blogs. The Houston Chronicle, for example, offers chron.Commons, a hub for Houston residents to create blogs, photo galleries, and much more local content.
Whether it’s part of a local blog network or just a guy in Seattle writing about his neighborhood, hyperlocal blogs have arrived and proven they can attract and grow an audience of interested readers. As blogging continues to spread out to a mainstream audience, hyperlocal blogging is a trend that’s bound to grow. If you’re not using a local blog as part of your small business strategy, now’s a good time to start.
Your turn: If you know of a great hyperlocal blog, or maybe another place to find hyperlocal blogs, please share it in the comments!