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October 22, 2004

Finding the Untapped Market

As the readership of this blog marches steadily toward the professed circulation numbers of some lower-middle-market newspapers, I've begun to muse about those publications' exorbitant advertising rates. Even halving their price, just a few ads per week would buy down my desperate need to find more-profitable ways to spend my time. Craig Henry recently posted some interesting thoughts about the market for blogs:

Most people are not regular blog readers. The people who are reading represent the early adopters, the committed partisans, the info-junkies. They are, alas, only a small sliver of the news audience and electorate.

The rate at which blog readership expands will depend more on the actions of current readers than on those of bloggers. As those readers put their personal credibility behind blog content, they increase the blog-audience in ways the best-written post cannot.

One problem, I've concluded, is that the "small sliver" is made even smaller in context. If I were to start a weekly newsmagazine, for example, I wouldn't initially shoot for the global audience; I'd build local support and then seek to jump to other markets. In contrast, the standard blogger seems to build his or her audience nationally first, which means that bloggers are operating — in a way that's relevant to advertisers — on a different scale. A thousandish daily readers would be a sizable audience if they were all from Rhode Island. Dispersed around the world — as cool as that may sound — your cumulative weight is quite a bit less.

In my case, I happen to believe that there's a market in Rhode Island for the type of alternative content that bloggers offer, even without honing it tremendously around "Rhode Island issues." Just having sympathetic local perspective on national issues can be a powerful comfort. Particularly considering personal experience, and that described in the periodic emails that I receive from my fellow citizens, of feeling isolated in this midnight-blue state, the audience will certainly be receptive. The difficulty is in reaching it.

I've been trying to brainstorm creative, cost-efficient advertising methods. The standard ad placements are too expensive, and frankly, I'm not sure how effective they are anyway. Advertising on other blogs, on the other hand, reaches the diluted audience that I'm hoping to focus regionally. I've been considering getting stickers or t-shirts or something similar and handing them out. I'm open to suggestions, if anybody's got them.

(Of course, it'd be helpful if I could find the time [meaning "money"] to spruce up the rest of Timshel Arts. Such goals as artists and bloggers have seem unpleasantly circular: one needs money to set aside the time to take actions that will bring in money that will increase one's time. I guess the silver lining is that things can build organically when once good fortune strikes.)

Posted by Justin Katz at October 22, 2004 8:59 AM
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Comments

Instead of a regional blog, maybe a thematic blog would draw advertisers. I notice many conservative blogs with ads for Ann Coulter's new book. That kind of targeted advertising ought to be efficient---if you can figure out how to get data out of your readership.

Posted by: Ben Bateman at October 22, 2004 6:07 PM

Ben,

Well, I don't intend to change my content all that much, whatever the case. The real question that I'm trying to answer, just now, is how to attract readers here. It seems to me that the local market for my thematic content is untapped and ought to be relatively easy to reach (relative, that is, to the audience for conservative Christian blogs globally, for example).

Posted by: Justin Katz at October 22, 2004 10:31 PM

You've probably thought of most or all of these suggestions, but FWIW, here are some. Feel free to delete this comment in the event you have.

If your parish has a website, ask the web master to add a link. Print flyers to pin up at the bulletin boards at the local supermarkets, libraries, book stores, and computer shops. If they have the URL on a little rip-off tab at the bottom, that would probably help grab people who don't have their pen loaded pocket protector handy. Maybe rent a small booth at a computer show being held at your local(or semi-local) convention center. Or rent a booth at Fall (or whatever) Fest being held at some local church to display/sell your artwork?

Posted by: smmtheory at October 22, 2004 11:44 PM

Graffiti on overpasses works well too.

Posted by: Marty at October 23, 2004 2:55 PM