How Blogs Grew Up, Ate Newsweek and Set Sights on the Rest of the Media

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Explore:  Blogs Media

If you think blogs are only written and read by bored, unemployed college grads obsessed with vegan recipes or classic rock, you haven’t been paying attention.

CQ Roll Call, publisher of the ultimate inside-the-beltway Washington, D.C., newspaper, just launched five new political blogs anchored by its well-connected editorial staff. Vegan recipes? Hardly. Political staff writer David Drucker will kick off his GOP leadership blog with a Q&A with House Majority Speaker John Boehner.

Savvy leaders are tapping into every aspect of the increasingly digitized media. We’ve touched on the benefits of commenting on blogs. The blogs themselves are a rapidly growing platform for thought leadership, and the writers behind them can be highly influential.

Now more than ever, media outlets are hungry for digital ad revenue, which brought in more than $17 billion in the first half of 2012, according to the Interactive Advertising Bureau. Editors know they must attract as much web traffic as possible to get more revenue. To accomplish this, they’ve picked well-known niche bloggers to build audience loyalty with edgy, inquisitive perspective.

Slate has been using its blogs to compete with media behemoths like CNN and the New York Times. To bulk up its audience numbers, the online news magazine added bloggers like Matt Yglesias, a well-known ThinkProgress writer covering economic policy, and Phil Plait, a former NASA astronomer and popular science writer. The result: Slate hit the monumental mark of 10 million unique visitors per month. The Daily Beast, a blog-driven website started by former New Yorker editor Tina Brown, has outlived the print edition of Newsweek, the glossy newsweekly it merged with in 2010. The ailing magazine published its last print issue in December.

The business world has embraced blogs, too. Inspired by the success of business-blogging websites like TechCrunch and Business Insider, Forbes Media turned to bloggers to add content to its website. Now there are as many or more stories published at Forbes.com by outside bloggers than by the company’s full-time staff. Contributor Rick Ungar has amassed millions of hits on his stories about the economy and politics and become a regular on the magazine’s “Forbes on Fox” TV show. Some other contributors at Forbes have even included chief executives, money managers and the like. The Forbes.com audience has been clocking in at 16 million views per month, dwarfing the audience of Forbes magazine.

Because these bloggers often cover niche topics and command a large fan base within their respective realm, engaging with them is a smart way to reach an expansive and targeted audience. Sure, some will remain preoccupied with classic vinyl albums or vegan recipes. But if you’re in business, politics, or the law it may only be a matter of time before an influential blogger takes an interest in you and your work and amasses a significant audience that shares his or her fascination.