recent studies have shown that more people are consuming information online, there is something to be said for the printed word. And at the local level, at least, some publishers are finding a thriving market for printed information, especially when it has a strong tie-in with an online community. We came across an interesting case study from web-to-print service provider ZetaPrints about a small New Zealand blog called The Flying Pickle that had found success with an offline edition.Even though
According to the case study, The Flying Pickle had been able to find a major local audience and boost advertising revenue by organizing its best posts each week into a print edition that it delivered via post directly to the homes of local residents. At a cost of about $200 to set up and $7 per month to host, creating the online presence for the local blog wasn't difficult, but getting people to read it is another story.
"There are literally millions of blogs, but only a few get any readership. Trying to attract the local population to your blog may be a very difficult task. Trying to make them participate is even harder," writes ZetaPrints, who believe that the print edition was a key to success for the Flying Pickle. Each week the blog selects its best posts and prepares them in a A5-sized, newsletter that it then places in letterboxes in the three local communities it targets. The total population for the area the blog serves is about 6,500.
Very quickly, the blog saw participation grow to about 6% of the local population and comments on the posts increased. Initially, the blog drafted volunteers from its core audience to help distribute the newsletter, but they have since switched to paid, professional distribution.
How could a local blog in such a tiny community do so well in face of stiff competition from established local newspapers? ZetaPrints thinks the key has been the print edition. Though they don't specifically speculate on why that is, it may be that having an actual, tangible product encourages people to contribute. And keeping it hyper-local makes it more manageable and may make people more comfortable voicing their opinions -- everyone is an expert about the neighborhood they live in.
Studies last year indicated that local ad spending would jump by as much as 48% in 2008. Indeed the Flying Pickle has been able to sell advertising in their print edition (it doesn't allow advertising on the web site). Perhaps more local or niche blogs should look to print to help grow their audience.