Blog: Anthony Morrow

Anthony Morrow knows just how much Detroit rocks. He's the editor & publisher of Detour --a music, film and culture blog out of Royal Oak--, the creator of both Metro Times' Blowout, and Detour's Rock City music festivals. Anthony has also shot videos for the White Stripes, Von Bondies, and Specs Howard. That enough street cred for you? He'll be writing about what it takes to start an Internet publication, and keep it going.

Anthony Morrow - Post 3: Make It Work

This past year and a half has been like getting an accelerated Master’s degree in online publishing. If anything has come out of this adventure, it’s having a clear idea of what it takes to build and maintain a successful publication. I’ve outlined the four guiding principles that I’ve culled from our experiences and from researching the most-influential websites out there today.

Know your audience. If you truly know your audience, you can describe in detail what they look like, the places they frequent, what products they use, etc. The worst mistake a business entity can make is not taking the time to learn about your audience and understand their tendencies. Initiate market research however you can. Conduct a survey on your site. Set up a booth at an event and capture audience data through information cards. Network and talk to as many people as you can. Ask the advice of the people who have done what you are aspiring to do. You’ll be surprised how much you can learn by just asking the questions.

Create unique content. This seems like a no-brainer but it’s going to be even more important for sites to develop features that separate themselves from their competition. When you and five other blogs in your city are all covering the same event, how do you rise to the top? What are you doing different?

Convert offline to online. The overall success of any online media source depends primarily on the ability to attract offline visitors to the online product. You need to establish marketing initiatives designed to draw a qualified audience to the site on a regular basis. In a highly competitive market like Detroit, it takes more than putting out flyers at the record store. Being able to produce special events, execute onsite promotions and develop strategic partnerships with the venues and festivals that your target audience frequents are crucial in driving traffic to your site.

Monetize the eyeballs. Not only are all of us online publishers battling a shitty economy, we’re fighting banner blindness, ROI (return on investment) and new competitive threats. The best publications are those that effectively interweave relevant ads into content without putting off the reader. This is a constant challenge that is about to see another big shift as advertisers are making their play for cell phone content. I don’t know about you, but the last thing I want is for my iPhone applications to be overrun with ads for teeth whitening.

Web 2.0 is in full effect. There is no more uncertainty or hesitation from any company in recognizing the web as the next frontier of business development. As trends shift and audiences expect more from their websites, Detour will strive to meet those demands, continually whetting the appetites of the tastemakers by churning out loads of exceptional content and producing a slate of kick-ass events