Tuesday, May 5, 2009

Trolling Around

Not much inspiration today. So, I decided to troll through some of Sheila's drafts to see what she was working on.

Here's one that caught my eye:

Somebody forwarded Shoz a link to a new online "Lifestyle" website complete with shopping tips and recipes. Prairie Home Living. I could see that Sheila would be interested in a quality local blog. But she wouldn't save it in her Top Secret Activist files. So, I looked through it for a few minutes to see if there was something else there:

-I see a recipe
-Some foxes/wolves
-Local shops, etc
-Cover of "The Blue Zone book"--written by Minnesotan Dan Buettner. I know this book well. I booked him for a nationally-syndicated radio show and he forgot about it!

But the content is pretty thin.

And it's not a blog. Just kind of a non-live website with a bunch of stuff on it. But the tabbing is aggressive. The owner wants to cover a lot of categories and will most likely do so through contributors.

And it's just regular stuff. I'm about to trade it in for www.instapundit.com but wait...

Wait...hmmm....now what have we here?

An interview with a reporter (who--like all reporters--is "pondering" writing a book...) from MinnPost. Snippet:

Q: "Out of all the local news media coverage of the Recount, your column is the most humanizing. Has your coverage of the Recount changed the way you view our judicial system, the election process or politics in general?"

A: "Not really. I’ve always been a fan of government. I’ve covered the Legislature over about a half-dozen sessions when I was at the Star Tribune, following stadium issues. I’ve always been impressed with how hard most legislators work."

"Fan of government?" My God, I've died and gone to heaven. Did somebody actually SAY that outloud. I LOVE It!

Stuff about The Environmental Defense Fund and links to commercials about Global Warming (obviously they didn't get the re-branding memo...)

Now I know why Sheila kept it. This blog is not a "lifestyle" blog -- it's a political blog disguised as a "lifestyle" blog. Nothing that a non-political junkie would pick up on immediately. But anybody with a brain would "get it" after looking around a bit.

And after digging around a little more I notice that the more political articles are much more thorough than the recipes and decorating features (The toy storage cube as a feature? Uh, we know). The quality of the writing and content is better and the featured guests are well thought out (although it's all fluff. No hard-hitting Katie Couric journalism here.)

Hmmm. Do we have a little lefty suburban reporter in disguise? An active DFL-er with easy access to local "movers and shakers?" It's so cute! I MUST know more.

I know that the libs want their "share" of the active SAHM Mommy blogger network. The women who cook, shop, stay home, decorate, etc. What they don't understand is that most of the women interested in lifestyle blogs are usually conservative women. And I just don't know if anybody thinks a local politician is interesting enough to see their "personal side." I don't spend my free time wondering what my Alpharetta City Council people are doing on their Saturdays.

But, since I am such a wonderful, giving person...I wanted to offer some unsolicited advice to the author of this new website (whoever you are). Here it is:

-Say what the blog is. I would suggest a slight re-positioning that adds a tag line to your name- "Prairie Home Living...A Lifestyle Blog for the Progressive EP Woman." If that's what you want to be. But if you are serious about filling up all those pages via a contributors network of like-minded people, you may want to really think about the tag line. I'm available for consulting on that but you'd have to pay me.

-I would seriously reconsider limiting your audience to Eden Prairie. I looked at your ad rates and--while they are reasonable--you won't be able to make any real money off a site with such a limited reach. And, your advertisers will go away if they don't get traffic. Even if they are only paying you $90.

-Focus on reach. Even with 1 million hits a month, selling any major ads is difficult. It is all about unique visitors. Even if you get 100 loyal readers who hit your blog 100 times a day, advertisers want 1,000,000 readers who hit your site every day...not matter who they are, where they come from, or how often they come back. Can you get these numbers with such a narrow target?

-Small lifestyle sites can become huge if you have a unique voice and allow the reader to be a voyeur into your world. Note that http://www.thepioneerwoman.com/ was approached by Walmart for sponsorship. But her site is incredible. But we see life through her eyes. We feel like we know her. She is our friend and we trust her. We want a piece--just a piece--of her romantic lifestyle. Even if it is for 10 minutes between changing diapers and unloading groceries.

-To that end, you can't just be a lifestyle site. But you know this. You know that it's not enough. You are a site that has a political agenda. I don't need to see an article about Global Warming to know that--I could tell when I saw the feature about "Making Your Own Flour." That's fine. But say so. Be honest about who you are, what your angle is and make everything on your blog support that positioning. Your recipes. Decorating. Fashion. For example, your fashion should be aimed at your target audience--liberal women. This will help your advertising. Since liberal women like to wear expensive glasses, you could approach a high-end local optical stores. Eventually, maybe you could get Keen sandals to be a sponsor! The possibilities are endless!

Well, I hope that I haven't overstepped by hijacking Sheila's back-up topics. And before you ask yourselves or dare ask me via the comments who the hell I think I am throwing in my opinion, know that I feel entitled to give advice because I am a consumer of this type of information.

That being said, if you are just doing the blog for fun, please disregard the above. It's none of my business anyways and I don't even live in the state!

Now I must go. I burned Jon's birthday cake. A little less blogging a little more baking.


Bob Dole said...


Bob Dole read Prairie Home Living and Bod Dole wants to puke.

Jay Weiner (the fan of government) was a long time beat writer for the StarTribune Sports Department. MinnPost is a on-line rag run by a bunch of Strib rejects. It's mostly about politics, so Jay has to pretend he gives a damn.

In the current edition of PHL, there is a story that is anti-airport and two fluff pieces on Eden Prairie liberals: Former Mayor Nancy Tyra-Lukens and City Councilman Ron Case. The Case story also has an anti-airport dig.

Sheila was probably just as disgusted as Bob Dole and waiting to give PHL a proper introduction to her readers. Bob Dole thinks that Prairie Home Living is a stupid name.

Sheila said...

Sheila will post more on this when she recovers. Very interesting to find out more about the different people featured. Quite transparent, really.