In my local community, there are a couple dozen women with blogs. Many of us are design bloggers of some sort — graphic designers and artists and fashion bloggers — and while we all met via the Internet, we’re all deeply invested in our real life neighborhoods. Over the past six months, we’ve started getting together monthly, for cocktails and dinner, and slowly but surely our meet-and-greet evenings are evolving into something more serious and business-oriented.
Five years ago, ad networks were the Next Big Thing; bloggers could make money off their sites by joining an ad network. Blogs were clustered together by topic and served with relevant ads; beyond the ability to exclude certain types of ads (for example, anything that conflicted with the blogger’s religious or political beliefs), the bloggers had no control over what showed up on their sites. There was a small window of time where the bloggers with ads on their sites made a nice lump of money — but as the market became more saturated, the revenues dropped off. These days, it seems like everyone is carrying ads and no one is making any money.
It’s time for a change.
I believe the next Next Big Thing in terms of blog advertising will be hyperlocal networks composed of bloggers who all live in the same city and who focus on partnering with local businesses, or with national brands looking to create a presence in a specific city. Big blogs may have readers all over the world, but there are some terrific small blogs that are read primarily by people who live in the same place as the blogger — and those blogs are a gold mine for brands and businesses looking to reach local consumers.
My friends and I are still strategizing ways to partner with local brands, but we’re confident that we can create a network that will benefit both the bloggers and the businesses. By shifting our focus away from the Internet at large and back to our local community, we can leverage our skills in a way that will benefit everyone involved — the bloggers, the brands and — most of all — our neighborhood. It’s a win-win.
Photo by Rex Barret/Glass Eye Studios