Why would anyone do it?
There seems to be no money in it. It takes hard work, passion, blood sweat and tears while it involves hours of research.
Yet hyperlocal is growing.
Hyperlocal bloggers need to have certain qualities to succeed, says Glyn Mottershead at Cardiff University. Bloggers need to be obsessive, independent, link lovers, passionate and willing to consider ways of monetising the hyperlocal blog. No-one has quite cracked it yet.
I must admit, going hyperlocal seems a bold call. With no proven revenue model it is difficult to think of many reasons to put so much investment into something that may not give any returns.
There are, however, some promising examples of hyperlocal models in action, providing an invaluable service to their communities.
Take the hyperlocal site Scottish TV
Or the Wales Online website
And Hannah Waldram’s Guardian hyperlocal blog
These blogs and news sites involve the community and readers like never before where guest comments and posts are welcomed.
But for a hyperlocal blog to truly succeed, as in the case of the Cardiff Guardian online blog it takes interaction not only virtual level but being physically present in the communities. Connecting people, informing and giving a voice to the community is the name of the game.
While this is true for news sites, it can be the same for entrepreneurial bloggers and businesses.
To build any business you need customers and to make a business out of writing you need an audience.
In the past businesses sought to attract customers from a local catchment area. The way businesses and newspapers go about interacting with a community is now changing.
Hyperlocal is more of an attitude than a place.
I read an inspiring example in Wales Online this Sunday of a Welsh young man who left the country and set up a bodybuilding site. He is now editor-in chief of the world’s largest health and fitness website.
Anyone with a bright idea and a real passion for sport, music, business, politics or people can base a website around the idea of hyperlocal.
Hyperlocal is, in this sense, a community. It could be sports fans, running enthusiasts or a business community. The real task is to create a useful product, engage and inform a community of people. With the rise of the internet, it has been easier than ever to set up an online business.
This can go a step further. One business has been built around a product, the next level of internet development is approaching frightening lengths to which a business can obtain personal information.
Programmes such as Facebook places, Groupon, foursquare and Gowalla encourage users to check in their preferences and geographical location. Just yesterday GAP announced it was giving away 10,000 pairs of jeans for free for the first people who checked into their store using Facebook Places. If I walk past the store and ‘check in’ with my iphone I can get a free pair of jeans.
There must be a catch?
As businesses are developing their use of RFID chips found in many mobile phones, which can track where people are at a given time.
These can allow users to interact with objects, building and companies in their area even suggesting news stories to people as they interact with an environment. Imagine you are on a bus passing a shopping centre. An iphone application could send you interactive information about what deals are on offer, helping you decide whether to get off the bus and grab a bargain.
This is the future of Hyperlocal.
Openly Local lists many of the hyperlocal sites in the UK on a google map.