Archives » December 15th, 2006

December 15, 2006

Kitty Cat Dance

Because it’s Friday:

Placeblogs Sell Out

I guess this is the ultimate goal: a local newspaper buying an independently-run community site. I guess that’s one of only three possible endgames for a site like that: sell it, keep it running independently forever, or be forced to shut it down at some point. And it seems like the only one with any money behind it.

Of course, that assumes that making money is your end goal. #2 is a perfectly viable option for most local sites and placeblogs, and it’s probably the plan most of them are running with at the moment. Keep a day job, work on the site in your spare time, and get spare change with Google Ads. Not a “business plan”, exactly, but good enough apparently for hundreds of sites out there. And I guess there’s always a #4: grow the site into a self-sustaining business of its own, and compete with the local paper. That’s the Weblogs, Inc. model, but I think it mostly worked out for them because they were able to have a hit right out of the box with Engadget. And they’re not doing local anyway, so it’s hardly the same situation. They have a widespread national and international audience, able to bring in page views in the seven digits. Starting a local site kind of narrows your reach a bit, making it really hard to get the kind of ad volume needed to sustain a business, even an online one.

So #1 is probably more likely, and even then you’ve got to grow to be a powerful force in the community and make yourself attractive to the newspaper. You’ve got to be at a point where the paper couldn’t just start a similar site of their own and outpace you in six weeks. Fresno Famous, the site that was sold, seemed to be there. It was probably cheaper and easier for the newspaper just to buy it than to try to compete. Around Carson, on the other hand, could be snuffed out in a matter of days if the Nevada Appeal ever got their shit together. I guess I’m just lucky they haven’t yet.

Not that I’m looking for an exit, it’s just that I’m not going to live in Carson City forever. So naturally I’ve got to wonder what will happen to the site after I’m gone.