December 02, 2002

City Blogs

John Hiler has come up with one of the coolest, most bad-ass blog business ideas I've seen to date. Tagged, "City Blogs," John has combined city guides and blogs into one. John's inspiration came about after he moved to New York and was in search of local events. Searching through traditional city guides left John feeling like he was missing something. There was no personal perspective from people who were interested in the same thing he was interested in. John explains more:

What I really wanted was someone to find the most interesting events and tell me which ones to go to. I wanted that someone to be an expert in their field. And I wanted that someone to cover niche categories that just weren't in the local event listings: jazz jam sessions in the Village, kickboxing matches in Queens, or Haitian dance classes near Union Square.

In short, I wanted a local events blog. And so, was born.
This is very Gonzo. And I think it further exemplifies the power of the first person perspective in new media.

Shane Bowman and Chris Willis at Hypergene Media Blog add some good ideas on how to make City Blogs work:

Get collaborative: Hiler will need a cartel expert bloggers that he can depend upon to really make this work. He should consider making each blog — cinema, books, talks, etc. — run by about 3-5 bloggers. In a city like New York, there's now way any one person can effectively cover a given scene. Hiler should also consider dedicating a blogger to fact-checking, which is critical to events guides.

Allow comments: Currently the NYC blogs do not allow for comments. It doesn't matter how expert you are on any niche scene, there's always room for others thoughts, tips and opinions.

Provide listing feeds: Since you probably won't have a decent marketing budget, you'll want to use all the viral tools in the box. RSS feeds will allow other blogs and sites showcase your event recommendations on their sites. (We never really understood why the excellent Corante blogs, such as Blogging News and Idea Flow don't have RSS feeds. What's up John?)

Make the content open source: As noted in a previous post, you could increase the exposure of your content, by allowing others to repurpose and distribute the content.

Personality needs a face: None of the blogs on this site are currently designed so that it is clearly apparent who the author is. For example, on the cinema blog, there is nothing to suggest that John Hiler is the author. The items just say, posted by John. Personality, as Hiler suggests, is critical to the success of this blog. But personality needs an explicit face. Put more information about the blogger in the "About this Blog" section.
The surface is just being scratched here, and if John can bring in some solid traffic I can't think of a way he couldn't make some cash off this blog idea.

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