How can we encourage local bloggers?
February 20, 2008 12:15 PM   Subscribe

We live in a small town with vibrant arts and music scene. How do we get locals who are passionate about their particular scenes (fine art/punk rock/hiking/environmental activism/whatever) to blog about them on a regular basis?

I am the editor of an alternative newsweekly in a small city in Canada. For a long time we've wanted to make blog hosting available (especially to people in underrepresented scenes), but because we're small we don't have money to pay to pay them. Even though we're a widely-read, successful paper, we're in a small town and can't get the advertising revenue to be as big as we'd like -- which means we can't cover everything we like. So, really, we want to inspire bloggers/podcasters to be covering what we can't. How can we do it?
posted by stokast to Media & Arts (10 answers total) 4 users marked this as a favorite
Selflinking is bad, but my advice is to find people who like to write in that/those scenes. These may not be the same as those who are passionate about the scene. In fact, I think it would be better to find good writers who are a little dispassionate so that every post isn't punctuated by "IMPEACH THE RETHUGLICANT'S"

Put it this way, blogs are (or can be) the online version of zines.
posted by rhizome at 12:20 PM on February 20, 2008

If the money isn't there, maybe bribery? I'm sure you guys get all manner of swag -- movie passes, concert tickets, etc. -- that could be passed along to the bloggers.
posted by kittens for breakfast at 12:22 PM on February 20, 2008

Call them up and say "We're thinking of starting a group arts blog with about 10 of the local arts leaders as bloggers. We can't pay, but we can offer [?? editorial control to promote whatever events you think are great?? Free tickets occasionally to local events?? something else]. Would you be interested? Do you know anyone in the scene who might be, and who could do a good job? The commitment would be to post at least one item a week [or whatever]."

Make it so it's not a huge time commitment for any one person.
Make it super-easy technologically, for people who might be older or less blog-savvy.
posted by LobsterMitten at 12:22 PM on February 20, 2008

I work with a smaller community Cit Journalism site and we're always dealing with this problem.

Essentially, the only thing that you can repay them with is publicity. Use your website/paper to highlight quality (failing that, quantity) writing, take pictures of the blogger, mention their name a lot. Ego stroking can go a long ways and don't forget to dangle the "This Could Be You!" carrot for new people while doing the former.
posted by unixrat at 12:25 PM on February 20, 2008

Also, you're going to need to clear some things up with your superiors (namely, EIC and Publisher). Will the postings be content-restricted in any way? No curse words? No badmouthing companies who advertise in the paper? These questions need to be asked in advance so that you don't lose credibility by having to periodically restrict your contributors based on complaints or whim.
posted by rhizome at 12:27 PM on February 20, 2008

Year-end prizes.
posted by Ironmouth at 12:35 PM on February 20, 2008

Seems like along with the artists and musicians that typically are part of these "scenes," there also are aspiring writers. Maybe give young writers the opportunity to blog about the scene, just for the opportunity to get published. They may not be as immersed in the scene as the musicians and artists themselves, but I think you'd generate some interest.

And along the same lines, is there a local college with which you could form some kind of partnership? If there is a journalism program, you may find a professor willing to give extra credit to a student who can blog for you all.

Just some ideas...
posted by Ruby Doomsday at 12:44 PM on February 20, 2008

Maybe you could pay just a tiny bit, more of an honorarium, for a certain output (10 articles per year? $20 for a post? A donation somewhere?). You'll get an entirely better level of work, and professionalism, if you put your contributors in the position of "professional", even if it's just starting-out-for-beans professional.
posted by amtho at 3:28 PM on February 20, 2008

I would recommend some PR by actually having people talk blend in with the scene and finding those who write and might be interested in writing. Because you don't have a budget to pay them to write for you, you can try to offer other things in return, some kind of reward system.
posted by mrbloo at 10:01 PM on February 20, 2008

How do we get locals who are passionate about their particular scenes (fine art/punk rock/hiking/environmental activism/whatever) to blog about them on a regular basis?

I would like to second what LobsterMitten said: "Make it super-easy technologically, for people who might be older or less blog-savvy."

I have a sort-of-parallel experience in my community with trying to bring people online to share information. And I found that I couldn't presume any level of technology awareness. The idea that Joe Q. Public right here in SmallTown, Texas could have his own blog, and it didn't have to be political muckraking or celebrity gossip, was a huge hurdle for some folks. "Anyone familiar with WordPress, Movable Type or other similar CMS?" was met with blank stares and the chirping of crickets.

If you could start a community blog on your own site with multi-users (think of the [City] formats), and offer a training class on how to post, you might find that the bloggers are out there if you can just help get them started. Then once it took off, you could help them launch their own independent projects, if that was the goal.

I don't think that any sort of monetary reward or payment is necessary. There are people out there who will write about their passions sheerly for the sake of spreading the word, and the bragging rights that come from being "an arts blogger for The So-and-So Weekly." You just have to find those people. The offer of credibility is lure enough, especially when you figure the vast majority of the internet's bloggers aren't seeing a dime from their work anyway.
posted by pineapple at 12:10 PM on February 21, 2008

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