HelloMetro Continues to Grow its Hyperlocal Network
by Matt McGee on Jun 28, 2010 in Industry
We tend to talk a lot about what AOL is doing with Patch, about big media’s interest in hyperlocal (e.g., CNN, MSNBC, New York Times, The Guardian, Seattle Times, etc., etc.), about small-town papers going hyperlocal … and yet we barely talk about what HelloMetro.com is doing.
What is HelloMetro?
HelloMetro is building a network of hyperlocal web sites that currently covers 1,500 cities, 35,000 neighborhoods, and 50,000 zip codes. There are currently about 1,100 web sites in the network, covering big cities like HelloAtlanta.com and smaller towns like HelloRichland.com in my backyard.
In early 2009, the company started hiring local writers (HelloMetro uses the term “journalist”) to create new content across this network. The company says it currently has more than 2,500 local and exclusive articles, and its network gets more than six million visitors per month. (You can look at both sites above to compare a site with a local writer and one without.)
What are they doing now?
According to a news release last week, HelloMetro is going international — it’s hired writers in Canada, Scotland, Ireland, and Australia. The news release also says that the company now has 40 content writers with a “professional literary background” who write dozens of “new and exclusive” articles every week.
HelloMetro President/Founder Clark Scott emphasizes in the news release that the company isn’t a local content factory.
“We do not employ free blogs, create cheap content treadmill, or try to coax journalists into writing for pennies a paragraph,” Scott said. “Our goal is to ensure that every exclusive article published by HelloMetro provides enriching, valuable, professionally produced information about that city – from a uniquely local perspective.”
The news release says that HelloMetro pays its writers “a substantial per-story rate,” but doesn’t offer any more detail. A little research online, though, leads you to a copy of a HelloMetro job listing in Google’s cache. It says that HelloMetro pays $50 per article. No one’s going to retire on that wage, but it could make for nice spending money for a motivated local writer.
The main idea here is to point out that not all of the movement and energy in the hyperlocal news/blogging/content space is coming from the Big Players — something I feel guilty of focusing on. All of us down on the ground tend to perk up our ears when we hear about another big newspaper starting a hyperlocal project, or about CNN investing in the space. This industry that we love has a lot more branches on its tree than we may realize, which means a lot more competition out there for readers, advertisers, and attention.