It’s hard to believe some online news startups started as blogs.  What factors or characteristics turn daily postings into a successful news startup like Rafat Ali’s paidContent and Josh Marshall and Michael Arrington’s Talking Points Memo?  What is considered successful?

It’s about content that encourages audiences to become engaged and participate in the conversation or share it with others.  The reason so many blogs have found success is because they’ve tapped into a market that was ignored (local media), or they took a new approach to something that already existed.  For example, there are so many fashion blogs out there, but the ones that stand out are the ones that go beyond covering New York Fashion Week or celebrity style.  The Sartorialist and All The Pretty Birds mixes street style with photography, and The Man Repeller has an interesting angle, featuring fashion that men find weird or hideous.

As far as news startups, the Voice of San Diego provides its readers with more in-depth reports of local coverage as well as serial narratives on issues affecting the community.  But it’s more than just good, interesting content.  The audience has to be involved either through posting comments or sharing links on their Facebook and Twitter pages.  I have found so many interesting blogs just by seeing links on social media sites.  Of all the blogs I’ve mentioned so far, none of them were successful overnight.  I think the most important thing is having a passion for what you’re putting out there for the public and realizing that there will be moments of failure.

In terms of success, it can be argued that it comes down to content, loyal readers, and financial stability.  I would agree with those, but I think innovation or redefining what’s already out there are key components also.  It really depends on what you set out to do and how successful you expect to become.  It starts with your own goals, and if you reach those, then that’s also considered a success.  Picking a niche and being one of the primary sources readers go to for that information is probably one of the most important concepts.  Advertisers will invest in something that is getting a lot of hits or page views for exposure to their products.  The possibilities are endless thanks to digital innovation and the improvement of online advertising, and it can all start with great posts.

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Comments
  1. The Talking Points Memo site has quite a story in and of itself. I had a chance to hear the owner speak at a conference a few years ago. Your comments about the start-ups involving a blog are great. I REALLY appreciate you bringing in the Voice of San Diego. Everyone in the class needs to write a blog piece about their assigned news start-up from our first day of class.

  2. Kristy Shaulis says:

    Michelle,
    I loved your viewpoint here. I think the key to making a blog, or any form of journalism really, become successful is being able to convince people to join the conversation. Newspapers have done that, but in a way that is quickly becoming irrelevant. With the web though, that conversation is not only becoming faster but also more realistic and with a quicker and more interesting response rate. Along with other factors you pointed out, that’s one of the more unique advantages the web platform has over traditional media. Great post!

  3. Katie Wood says:

    Great points made here! I have to say that audience is key when it comes to startup blogs. It’s makes me think of cliche “if you build it they will come.” While audience is key, you have to have quality content. If the content is good, then people will share it and the following will grow.

    I love that you point out that “it’s more than just good, interesting content. The audience has to be involved either through posting comments or sharing links on their Facebook and Twitter pages. I have found so many interesting blogs just by seeing links on social media sites.”

    I totally agree. Great post!

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