Monetizing your small, up-and-coming blog is a time-consuming and challenging process. Riddled with choices along the way, the path to monetization may seem anything but straightforward. But in 2016, many businesses and aspiring entrepreneurs are discovering hyper-local marketing tactics as a means to garnering local support and carving out a niche. While hyper-local marketing is not truly a novel practice, the way in which businesses are going about it has changed. A common misconception is that you must have a particular kind of business in order for hyper-local marketing tactics to make sense. But in truth, global brands have already begun utilizing big data to incorporate different strategies based on audience location. We gathered some actionable tips from Yvonne Condes and Sarah Auerswald of MomsLA, Jessica Woodbury of Don't Mind the Mess, and Cora Harrington of Lingerie Addict at the 2016 BlogHer conference.
Purchase a URL
You want your blog to be known in your town as "the" place to go for a specific topic. For example, a cosmetics blogger from Plainfield, Illinois may want to share her experience and expertise to gain more local opportunities - yet all of her social media followers are from other cities around the world. Purchasing a relevant URL with your town name and topic can create a new opportunity to be heard locally. A perfect example is BlogHer conference participants, MomsLA, a pair of Los Angeles-based moms who created a one-stop-shop for information moms in LA might need - like recreation for kids, discussions on parenting styles and LA neighborhood guides.
Blog for Your Town
While most of the blog posts on MomsLA are aimed at local mothers, you may need to consciously create some hyper-local content if your topic is more general and has a broader audience. Get started with just one or two locally focused posts, selecting keywords that are not too highly competitive. It can dramatically help boost SEO and visibility if your posts tie in details about a locally trending topic. This topic may not be directly related to your usual topic, but by creating engaging content that references it, local readers will realize that they can relate and trust you as a peer. For example, if your website is specifically about coffee, talking about (and linking to) a new restaurant down the street from your favorite coffee shop can spur conversations among your blog's visitors and social media followers.
It will also serve you to focus your networking efforts toward those in your area, even if for a brief period of time. Spend an afternoon browsing through other local bloggers in your industry and reach out to them. You might also want to mention a good idea they have on your blog or social media channels. This may seem counter-intuitive, as these bloggers are somewhat like competitors. But ultimately, branching out to these individuals can mean cross-over traffic, and maybe even quality backlinks to your site. Don't rule out how another blogger might be of service to you.
Create Special Offers
One surefire way to harness a local audience is to give them special treatment. This might include selling local brands at a discounted price or working directly with them to arrange limited-time offers or special giveaways. Google Adwords Express is one simple way to get your offers in front of a local, targeted demographic. In addition, start keeping an eye out for potential brands to partner with, as this can double your audience size with minimal effort. Have your website communicate the fact that you are open to partnerships.
While it may seem like hyper-local marketing is limiting and cuts you off from a world of potential readers, it can actually be more lucrative in the long run. Your demographic immediately becomes clearer and your competition slimmer when you select a specific neighborhood to target.
Thank you for following our "Experts Among Us" series. Stay tuned for the next piece, as we explore creating "snackable" content for holding today's digital attention span. As always, don’t forget to follow eBay Partner Network on social media for more tips and updates, or to leave us a comment or question. Find us on Twitter, Instagram and on Facebook.