The Pros and Cons of Writing Local

Image by bluecinderella

Last week my girl Fajr/Stylish Thought wrote a post, Small Town, Big Blog: 5 Ways to Show Local Love for IFB, and her timing couldn't have been more appropriate.  For many weeks I have been thinking about the role of your local market when writing for your blog.

 

Back in December, I posted a survey on my own site. (Side note: surveys are a great way to gauge interest, especially if you bounce around in subjects like I do.  I may have a passing interest in making something a series– and if my readers have no interest in it, it helps me know where NOT to focus my time.)  One of the most surprising results I found where that my readers were equally split on reading content about New Orleans fashion & fashion events.

 

I believe there are cities and regions that a blogger can cover from a local perspective– such as New York City, Los Angeles, London, or Paris, that would break through barriers a local focus would have.  These cities have such a global reach and impact that local blogging becomes global blogging.   But what about the rest of us?  Is it a benefit or a hindrance to focus on content on our hometowns?

 

Pros of Local Coverage:

  • Most importantly– fresh, unique content.  If you live in an area with fewer bloggers, you won't have as many people posting similar content!
  • Similarly to the first point, you're carving out your own unique niche as well.
  • Easier to find local advertising and build regional relationships. (via Birdonthestreet)
  • Depending on the market, you could have less competition: for covering events, gaining access to events, being the go-to gal for the region. (via Birdonthestreet)
  • The opportunity to connect with other bloggers locally and build a network.  While it's great to have online bloggers to connect with and have for support, it's even more amazing to have local blogger friends.  I love grabbing coffee with my lady bloggers for time to vent!

 

Cons of Local Coverage:

  • Too targeted & too specific–readers may feel alienated reading about events and designers that are inaccessible to them.
  • Difficulties in growing your audience– are you providing broad enough coverage to engage a non-local reader?  Several bloggers I know expressed concern about this!  Are you going to be okay with having a narrower, but perhaps more engaged & invested audience?
  • It can become a lot of work to continually network with those local to you– it may build insincere relationships to keep in the loop.  You may find that less dedicate bloggers are invited to events due to the amount they can network versus you. (via milkglassheart)
  • Local popularity can overpower your content– as you attend more and more local events, they may expect or demand coverage.  This could impact your natural editorial flow.  (via Stylesmith)

 

While I haven't discontinued writing about local stores and events on my site, it has made me reconsider the time and resources needed to do so– so that I only pursue it if it's something I'm incredibly excited about.

 

Have you written about content related to your city?  How have your readers responded to it?  Have you found any pros or cons that haven't been mentioned above?

 

 

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21 Responses

  1. Amy (Australasia Dreaming)

    As a blogger from the North of England, I do love finding other bloggers who write about my local area. It’s really interesting to gain their perspective, and, coming from such a small geographical area, even if we’re a couple of cities apart, we’re still very close to each other. And, you’re right: blogger friends are THE BEST.

    But, as I’m emigrating to Australia in July, building up this kind of local focus seems a bit ridiculous: pretty soon, I’ll be living 14 000 miles away from where I currently write about, and both really sad and really annoying…

    So yes… it is a bit of a dilemma!

    (On the plus side, I’ve come across literally no Canberra-based bloggers. I have my niche for next year sorted, ha!)

    Reply
  2. Aquila

    This article is right in line with some of my thoughts these past few weeks as well. If you post general fashion or beauty advice, you’re competing with experts, non-experts, EVERYONE. However, if you post local content mixed in with articles that anyone can enjoy, I think you can develop the most engaged/large audience in the end. It’s all about a balance.

    Reply
  3. Christy

    I’ve found that being a super niche blog, southern fashion with a focus on New Orleans, has been both a help and a hindrance.

    On one side I’ve made some great connections locally and get asked for my “expert opinion” quite often which is flattering in that people trust my advice and think that I know the subject matter and/or area well. I was already knowledgeable about the retail climate in New Orleans beforehand and the blog is really just a dumping ground for the information residing in my brain. 🙂

    The downside is that it has been hard landing many readers outside of my range, the southern United States. In order to keep true to my vision I only try to connect to bloggers on a local and regional level- granted that is a really large area of coverage but it can be extremely limiting in terms of gaining loyal followers.

    I sort of digressed but overall I’ve been pleased covering local events and at the very least I’ve certainly had fun with it.

    Reply
  4. Camille

    Interesting how I’m attending several exhibitions and shows in Japan Fashion Week. Fortunately I really love the designers I’m planning to see. Tokyo is a fashion capital in its own right. Everyone has their own unique sense of style. Although, I have to admit I have difficulties in reaching a wider audience. I hope they will find it as interesting as I do.

    Reply
  5. Allie

    I never admitted where I lived until last year – I wanted to keep it general so my posts would appeal to anyone, regardless of where they lived. However you can’t help but have a local flair to what you wear, where you go, what you care about. I decided to admit I am from DC and started writing occasionally about local events. It has really helped me get to know my town better and network with other bloggers and businesses. I haven’t received any flack from it, but I still make my blog’s primary mission to give style advice to any woman, regardless of where she lives. 🙂

    Reply
  6. Madeleine Gallay

    Ah, I love everything LibertyLondonGirl writes and she includes many little shop stories from her hoe area as well as on the road. I think we’ve gone so global and everything is accessible so it makes tons of sense.

    I’m as comfortable ordering anywhere in the world online now as walking down the street to a small indie boutique.

    Good pieces transcend the little hometown label, I think.

    Reply
    • Tracy @ Ascending Butterfly

      @Madeleine Well Said! I agree QUOTE:

      “Good pieces transcend the little hometown label, I think”

      Your followers are there for your voice, your perspective, your experiences, cover events you feel passionate about! When the true you shines through, the rest will follow!

      Reply
  7. Leslie

    For my beauty blog, UNMADE, I mainly post about products and services that anyone in the U.S. can obtain to appeal to a wider audience. However, I do occasionally spotlight local events I am personally interested in. You can’t expect locals to support your causes/events if you don’t do the same, but I don’t post about events I wouldn’t attend myself. Appealing to local readers is a very easy way to get new subscribers. It’s all about balance.

    For my food blog, NOLA Eats, it’s definitely a localized blog, but New Orleans garners so much interest for the restaurant scene that my Twitter followers and Facebook “fans” are from all over. It could be the topic, though, as food is universally loved.

    Reply
  8. A

    I’m facing a similar issue however I find that if you balance your site with local and national content you can avoid getting stuck in some of the ruts that local bloggers face. My site covers national fashion news but also talks about Atlanta based designers and artists that I know through contacts I’ve made as a fashion writer in ATL-although I’m NOLA born, had to throw that in for the New Orleans bloggers. I also make use of the fact that a few of my writers have lived/do live in other places-from NOLA to Philly to Chicago and NYC-and make use of their connections there as well.

    It has been taking a second to integrate all of the local content we’ve been working on but eventually what I hope to end up with is a blog that has all of the intimacy and personality of a local site that can effectively hang with the national experts.

    Hope this helps! Oh and to all of the NOLA bloggers on here add me as a pal. I may live in ATL, with no intention of moving home, but I miss my city and the locals that give it its unique flavor.

    Reply
  9. Teri

    I think it’s just a good idea to have a variety when doing a strictly fashion inspired blog. I agree with Aquila, you are competing with lesser known blogs as well as very popular blogs, and everyone in between. If you throw in some antidotes about your city, it can only make your blog more interesting and stand out. I don’t think you have to strictly cater to your area, but people from outside your area want to know about places they’ve never been. I think it’s a mistake not show your environment. I know it’s more work, but it makes for more interesting posts, and more well-rounded blog.

    Reply
  10. Mikelle S

    I’ve only lately begun to do more local things and the way I work it in is that I cover national/international runways and editorials and such but I love to cover local events… I don’t really cover national events because I can’t really give my “insider” opinion when I don’t really have one so I do sort of events locally and cover national/international fashion.
    Also I make sure to seek out people in the local industry who do work that is of the national/international quality and spotlight them as well.

    Reply
  11. Casee Marie

    I loved this post, and it came at a great time for me. I’ve recently moved to a new city where there’s a budding fashion scene and not many fashion bloggers (that I know of), but the industry here is very self-contained. Where I think it might surprise and perhaps entertain people to know about it part of me thinks it’s not ideal to get involved because there may not be a big capacity for fashion bloggers yet. There’s definitely a lot to consider, so this helped a lot!

    Reply
  12. lisa

    I think the issue of whether to write local or not fits into the wider issue of not blogging yourself into a corner, i.e. making the focus of your blog so narrow that you feel restricted or stuck. If you only blog local and you become known as a “local blogger,” you can feel restricted and it gets harder to transcend those boundaries because you risk losing your readership.

    The mandate of my blog has always been “fashion and anything else that catches my fancy” which gives me a lot of room to work with. Nonetheless, there’s still a lot of Vancouver-centric content that might alienate readers who don’t care. What works best in my experience is mixing up those posts with ones about things readers are more likely to know or be able to access.

    Reply
  13. Diana

    I run what turns into an international blog – plus size clothing from everywhere Google page translator will translate. That said, I am trying to add more elements unique to my locale because people otherwise just assume I’m in New York/LA – awkward, and I get a bit defensive about the view of my Twin Cities home as flyover. Also because there’s a considerable market of plus size women in my immediate area who just don’t know about the site, or that there are places nearby waiting to serve them.

    Reply
  14. Fajr | Stylish Thought

    Great post Ashe! Writing local definitely has its pros/cons, but if you add local coverage as just one fragment of your blog I think it’s easy to avoid the pitfalls of becoming “The local blog”.

    Reply
  15. Bernard Patacsil

    most of my readers are not from Vancouver and they’re more scattered around Canada and in the United States. So, when I post something about designers here in Vancouver, they are not really that interested because it doesn’t affect them in any way… or at least the designer that i feature on my blog is not well known for them to care.

    Reply
  16. FashionGeeksta

    I live in Maracaibo witch is the second city of Venezuela, is definitely not a capital of Fashion but I really believe that there is a way to make your readers interested on the content even if is not on their area.
    Maybe they way you tell the story of the event or if you are talking about a new brand or designer, even for the good pictures you could catch the attention of your non local readers :].

    Reply
  17. Marusya V

    @Amy there are actually quite few bloggers in Canberra and some of them quite strong!
    @Madeleine absolutely agree – good piece is good regardless it’s location.
    In general, don’t think writing purely locally will be beneficial for The blog. Majority wants to know what is out there, beyond their home town. Unless the event is really interesting no point in covering it just because it happened on your city – that will bore all readers as local as international. I’m hailing from Sydney but my readers are from all around the world: Canada, USA, UK, Russia, etc. We have great relationships, enjoying each other news, sharing opinions, supporting each other. There is no way I’d trade the whole wide world for localized attention!

    Reply
  18. Erica

    I have been trying to figure this out for myself as well. Many local shops have websites too, so their products are available to everyone! My blog, Pretty In the City, Annapolis, because of its’ name has to cover the local scene, but I am a little concerned when I see followers from Texas and other parts of the country and I think about how to keep the content relevant to them too! Great article, thank you!

    Reply