How to Monetize a Niche Local Site

How would you monetize the site was created for locals to discover Baltimore by watching videos of urban businesses, artists, activities, and organizations.

The good people on Hacker News have some ideas:

It’s going to be fairly difficult, but since you asked:

Step 1: Develop a sufficiently large following among Baltimoreans such that getting featured on meaningfully moves the needle for a business.

Step 2: Charge businesses who would not otherwise be featured in for advertising. You will primarily sell this in $X00 chunks via telephone sales reps.

Should you need good telephone sales reps, ask around at local papers. Their telephone sales reps are exactly who you need to make these sales, and they may soon be be urgently in need of jobs. Why? Local papers already operate on this exact model, and they do not appear to be sustainable, due to high costs and cratering revenues.

Local papers have a host of advantages which you will find it difficult to replicate, such as built-in bases of hundreds of thousands of paying subscribers, irrational advertiser preferences involving overpaying for ads which are nearly untrackable and perform poorly, and cult-like brand loyalty which spans generations. Sadly, these advantages are not merely not in your favor, they work against you, because you will have potential advertisers say things like “Why should I pay you money for advertising to 100 people who we know see my ad, when I could instead pay 100 times more to advertise to 200,000 people who won’t see my ad? I’m already spending everything I can afford on advertising.”

There exist other potential business models for local-flavored businesses, but they’d involve you doing something more transactional in nature rather than creating videos, so I kept them out of scope for the moment. For example, one could — hypothetically — use the site as a portfolio for doing promotional videos of local businesses, and then charge them $X00 a pop for short 5 minute clips that they could e.g. upload to Youtube and thereby generate business from. For example, search for [baltimore hair salons] on Youtube — now think of all the folks who probably should be showing up there, but don’t because they can’t figure out how to script, shoot, and host a four minute video showing a nice, professional haircut in a clean environment.

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