5 Web Sites You Must Bookmark for Hyperlocal Content
But the rest of us struggle at times. On our four hyperlocal blogs, Cari and I sometimes go 2-3 weeks between posts simply because there’s not always a lot of material that fits what we’re doing. If this sounds familiar to you, here’s a suggestion for five types of web sites you must bookmark and visit on a regular basis to get potential blog content.
1. Schools & School District web sites
There’s a good chance that many of your readers have kids. And even the folks who don’t — you hope they’re smart enough to realize that school-related news still affects them because it affects the overall community, it affects home values in the neighborhood, etc. You really can’t go wrong writing about school-related stuff on a local blog.
Check out your local district web site and the local school sites. Look for News pages that can be bookmarked. Look for newsletters to subscribe to. Look for a Calendar or Events page for information about upcoming school board meetings or student theater productions. All of this makes terrific local blog content.
2. Government web sites
This is something that does impact all your readers. No matter how old, how long they’ve lived in town, etc. … government decisions impact us all.
Look for the same kinds of News and Events pages I mentioned above in the Schools section, and newsletters to sign up for. But also look for financial documents and other official publications that can be read or downloaded, then written about. Look for information about public works projects — street closures and parks are things that affect a lot of people. Bookmark the county health department web site and the emergency services department, too. Look for election information when it’s that time of year. Perhaps most of all, look for a Links page to learn about other city and civic-related web sites you should be reading to keep up on local news.
3. Event Facility & Ticketing web sites
Everyone likes to know about events that are happening in your city. Many of the most successful posts we’ve written on our local blogs are posts that promote local events. (This is especially true because the “official” pages for these events are often very poorly built and have no SEO to help them rank well on Google, Yahoo, etc.)
Bookmark web sites for your local convention center or trade show facility and look for their events calendar. Bookmark the web sites for your local sports facilities and theatrical venues. Bookmark the Ticketmaster web site for your closest arenas and/or stadiums, and pay attention to the upcoming events. All of this is excellent blog material.
4. Local Media & Local Blog web sites
I should hope this is a no-brainer. I’ve said before that, once you start a local blog, you’re now a local journalist. And it’s perfectly normal to follow what other journalists are reporting in your town.
Look for RSS feeds and/or newsletters you can subscribe to so that the local news comes to you more often than you need to go find it. If possible, try to develop relationships with your fellow writers and reporters. You may not have much luck with the traditional media, but working together with other bloggers is a great way to network and get new ideas for local blog content.
5. Social Media web sites
My previous post, How to Use Twitter to Find Local Blog Content, shows how we’ve used Twitter for finding local blog content. I’m sure you can do the same on Facebook, and maybe other sites, too. These are great sites to meet other locals, hear what they’re writing and talking about, and potentially get content ideas to write about.
But I’m not only talking about written content here. You should also visit the Groups page on Flickr and do a search for your hometown. I’m betting you’ll find at least one, if not several groups where local residents are sharing photos and having discussions. This can be a great way to source photos that can add a strong visual element to your blog posts — as long as the local photographers are licensing their photos through Creative Commons. YouTube doesn’t have local groups, but you can do keyword searches to find local videos … never know, you might something funny, cool, unique, or newsworthy. And most YouTube users allow their videos to embedded on other sites.
What Did I Miss?
Over to you: What other types of local web sites are great for getting content and content ideas? What would you add to this list? Comments are open.