Outside.in Head Talks Place Blogs (and More)
First we had Topix aggregating local news and events from thousands of sites. Now we have Outside.in trying to pull off the same idea using hyper-local blogs as a primary source. Steven Johnson co-created the site with John Geraci. He talked with us last week via e-mail about the company's ambitions and where he sees “place blogging” today.
Johnson noted there are “tons of sites” that write with a hyper-local theme. Some sites, like The Gothamist and Curbed, even cover a slew of neighborhoods. But the smaller, neighborhood-focused sites have relatively modest traffic. Without aggregation, it is “certainly a long tail proposition.”
“What we’re trying to do is different” from a news-oriented site like Topix, he says. “Our imagined user is saying: 'I’m sitting right here at this address what are the conversations and events and controversies happening around me right now?' Or: 'I’m thinking about this public school in this new neighborhood: show me all the posts and threads about that school that the local residents have had over the past two years.' ”
Currently, Outside.in is aggregating bloggers, by ZIP code, and has the top 30 cities in its roster. It is aiming to expand to the top 50 cities by the end of November, aided by a team of spotters that look for bloggers in the communities it covers. It also relies on users to submit blogs to be tracked. “We've probably had a hundreds blogs suggested so far,” says Johnson.
But blogs are just the tip of the iceberg. “We’re very much committed to organizing more than just blog content,” he notes. “We’re also submitting links from other sources that have some kind of location-specific content: newspaper articles, reports from local governments, hot threads on chowhound. He also notes that the site is “increasingly reliant on users to do this we’ve had about 1,000 suggested links since we launched.”
As for making money, Johnson says the site currently has some Google ads and that it is “naturally optimized for both local and national advertising.” But making a quick buck is not as much a focus as getting the right content and the getting the word out. The latter he hopes to do via “the usual approaches: word of mouth, publicity, strategic deals with larger sites, perhaps some ad buys for key neighborhoods.”
This Post Has One Comment
Steven’s "long tail" comment seems to presume that we "hyper-local" bloggers are at it to make revenue. At the risk of sounding hopelessly stuck in the early 90’s, I’ll point out that my blog The Multnomah Villager is something that I maintain as a side project and not as a potential career. I agree that this approach relegates one to the 100-hits a week level. I have a few issues with the necessity for "aggregators". While I appreciate any traffic they send my way (especially since I recently added Google Ads – how’s that for invalidating my earlier statement about revenue?), I’m not so sure that the presence of aggregators makes local blogs or content easier to find.
My search performace on Google is enough – why search to find an aggregator when a Google search for the content itself will do? The use of the META ICBM tags helps with my serach performance as well. I really like outside.in’s Google maps integration, and how it change the focus area of the content, but I will wait to see whether or not building additional content links alongside the ’blogs results in something more than a Web 2.0 version of Citysearch. That may not be a bad thing….
And I’m not crazy about sites making ad revenue off of displaying my content, but like I said, I’m not in this for a living, so I’m not getting all hot and bothered about that.